The possibility that we may exist within a simulation is being entertained by more and more people, including scientists and philosophers. Many of the findings of Quantum Physics seem very similar to what you'd expect from a computer simulation. Also, many aspects of the greater reality, as described by spiritual and metaphysical concepts, also seem consistent with the idea that our reality might be a computer simulation. Many find this idea disturbing, but it might actually be a blessing in disguise. In this article, I will address the question of whether we exist in a computer simulation or just in something else with similar properties — either way, the ramifications are profound!
The Simulation Hypothesis
The idea that we might exist in a computer simulation has been coined "The Simulation Hypothesis." It has been used as the central plot device in numerous science fiction stories and films and has a number of different variations. One variation is that we are "real" people, in some outer base reality, "playing" characters in a very sophisticated virtual reality. This is the scenario used in the movies The Thirteenth Floor and Existenz.
Another variation of this idea is that we are envatted brains hooked up to a computer. This variation was used in the highly acclaimed movie The Matrix with the twist that not just our brains but our whole bodies were envatted and hooked up to a computer to enslave us in an artificial reality for malevolent purposes. As chilling as the idea of feeding simulated expereinces to a real live brain is, it seems impractical and pointless and is probably the least likely scenario.
A third major variation on this idea, and perhaps the most interesting one, put forth by philosopher Nick Bostrom and others, proposes the fascinating possibility that we may be SIMULATED PEOPLE! within a simulated reality!
This is a computer simulation technology that doesn't exist yet but that many imagine sooner or later will. It would require the ability to create artificial intelligence (simulated consciousness) on a computer. And this is something that many scientists and philosophers believe is conceptually possible and is only a matter of time before it is achieved. This then makes it possible to create simulated realities containing simulated people.
Why would anyone create simulations like this? Possibly as experiments to explore alternative possibilities for societies, social dynamics, the evolution of consciousness and intelligence, and much much more. A culture with advanced technological capabilities such as these might want to use it to understand its history or anticipate future possibilities or learn from observing many alternative scenarios unfold.
Another very intriguing possibility is that they might want to grow and evolve an artificial intelligence, through the accumulation of simulated experiences, and to then tap into its wisdom. A variation on this is they might do this as a sort of protective sandbox to see how the artificial intelligence might evolve before unleashing it into their "real" world.
The logic of this possibility coming to pass has been aptly expressed by one of the world's great luminary thinkers and achievers of our time, Elon Musk. When asked about this possibility he said the following:
The strongest argument for us being in a simulation is the following: 40 years ago, we had Pong. Two rectangles and a dot. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic 3D with millions playing simultaneously. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by 1000 from what it is now. It's a given that we're clearly on a trajectory that we're going to have games that are indistinguishable from reality. It would seem to follow that the odds that we're in base reality is 1 in millions.
So Elon reasons the there is a very high chance that we are in a simulation, but rather than finding this disturbing, as many do, he finds it reassuring. It means that it's all just a learning experience and if we screw it up we might get another chance by going back to a game save point and trying again or maybe even just restarting the whole game.
The odds we're in base reality is one in billions.
How To Tell If You Are In A Simulated Reality?
So the there seems to be a distinct possiblity that we may presently exist within some sort of simulated reality. Of these three types of simulated realities virtual realites (where the real us is outside the simulation) and fully simulated realities where the people are simulated seem the most plausible from a pratical applications point of view. So if we where presently inside one of these types of simulated realities how could we tell? And how could we decide which type it was? If you are a character being played by a reall being with real consciousness out side of the virtual reality then you have to assume that there would be a way to logout of the game (so to speak). When would the game end and you'd return to the real you? Pehaps by dying in the virtual reality?
Evidence That Our Reality Is A Simulation
So by deductive reasoning there seems to be a good possiblity that we may currently exist within some sort of simulated reality. But that's not all. There is a fair amount of evidence (all circumstantial of course) from both physics and spiritual metaphysics that strongly suggests that we are in a simulation.
Quantum Physics ...
Ancient Metaphysics ...
Modern Metaphysics ...
The Fallacy of Similarity
The strong similarities between aspects of both quantum physics and metaphysics and how our computer simulations work might seem to strongly suggest that our reality might indeed be a simulation. But there is more than one objection that can be made against the similarity argument.
Firstly, there is a major flaw in the logic — that similarity works in only one direction. Similarity is a double sided coin. Just as the similarity might suggest that our reality is a simulation the opposite could be true — our computers and the simulations they can run, and the computational theory, information theory, etc, that they are based on might simply be a reflection of aspects of a greater reality that is functionally similar too but not a simulation.
Secondly, but sort of related to the first point, doesn't strike anyone that the Simulation Hypothesis is kind of comically anthropomorphic. Doesn't it seem a bit silly to think that because we make computer games that super advance beings in the future might make some mind boggling awesome ones and we might be WITHIN one right now and that explains the strange underlying nature of our reality. Doesn’t it seem pretty naïve considering how little we actually know about our vast Universe and how relatively ignorant we really are despite our arrogant beliefs to the contrary. The concept of "the world as simulation" takes that old philosophical perspectives, such as world is an illusion, and may be erroneously projecting our latest technologies onto them.
So by no means do the similarities between Quantum Physics and Metaphysics and computer simulations prove that we exist within a computer simulation of some type. All these similarities a just circumstantial evidence. And circumstantial evidence can't really prove anything — it can strongly suggest but it can't prove. And it seems like it's going to be very difficult, or maybe even impossible, to prove that you're are in a simulation.
First of all, the creators of a simulated reality would likely be trying to make it as realistic as possible — realistic enough that the players and characters in the simulation couldn't tell it was a simulation otherwise the purpose of the simulation might be thwarted.
Second of all, what are you going to compare it against? What is "real"? How are you going to know if some observed behavior in your reality is something that shouldn't be in a "real" reality? How can you be sure what is valid in a "real" reality? Think of it this way, you're trying to test if you are in a simulated reality, and if you are, how are you going to know what "real" reality is supposed to be like? The types of virtual and simulated realities we are talking about are designed so you DON'T know you're in a simulation. So all you know is the simulated reality! How can you compare anything in your reality with what you "think" a "real" reality is supposed to be like when you don’t know what a "real" reality is like? See my point there? As Morpheus in The Matrix said "What is real?"
I don't think there's anything that you could discover that could PROVE the realness or simulatedness of your reality. All you're really going to know about your reality is how it works – both on the surface and underneath. They only possible way you're going to ever know if your reality is a simulated is if you can escape your reality. As you would be able to do if you are the consciousness outside of a virtual reality type simulation playing a character inside of the VR and there was some mechanism by which you could logout of the VR — perhaps by dying or some other specific exit condition.
Then you might find yourself sitting in a chair or something in some other reality (hopefully you are not a brain in a jar hooked to a computer, but in that case you can't really logout of the game can you) and it would be immediately obvious that the reality that you just left wasn't real — it was an illusion. But you can't assume that the reality you now find yourself in "real" because it's possible that there could be simulations within simulations (eg; levels of reality). And so you couldn't be sure that your current reality is any more "real" than the last one — you couldn't be sure you were in the base reality. So there may be no absolute way to know if a reality is "real" or simulated.
Of course, you may not be a consciousness OUTSIDE of the simulation as in a fully simulated reality where the people in the simulated reality are that are artificial intelligences that ONLY within the simulation — eg; simulated people! In this case there probably no way to "escape" the simulation — unless the creators/runners of the simulation terminate the simulation in which case your existence is terminated as well!
The Most Magnificent Simulation of All
What if our reality is a simulation created by an artificial intelligence to understand the organic sentient beings that created it? Or perhaps just to understand the nature of existence and self in general and by exploring all the possibilities?
So if we exist in a simulation it is one that far exceeds anything that probably anyone has imagined. A massively parallel reality simulator that is highly adaptive and evolutionary. A simulation that at its core is an artificial intelligence and consciousness that dynamically creates simulated realities and indirectly experiences them by creating multiple threads of it own consciousness that give it many focal points of perception to experience many realities in parallel. A simulation where the multitude of parallel simulated realities, and the experiences they offer, are only a means to the end. Because the goal of the simulation is to collect the wisdom gleaned from all those experiences within all those realities within the core consciousness that drive the entire simulation ― to evolve and expand the very consciousness that is creating it all!
The Great Mystery
So by the testimony of Guy Needlers conversation with The Origin it appears that our question "Do we exist in a simulation?" is likely to be impossible to answer. It is certainly possible ― the metaphysics of the wider reality certainly do appear consistent with this idea. On the other hand, it is very possible that answer is NO, and that any similarity to our computer and virtual reality technologies is merely because the underlying ideas used in their construction ― computational theory, information theory, simulation theory, etc ― are subconscious reflections of some of the fundamental aspects of the greater reality.
Another reason that the answer to this question is likely to remain a mystery is some more logical deduction that goes like this … if an alien race built a computer to run a simulation of an evolutionary consciousness and existence would they build it in such a way as to let everyone/everything within the simulation know that they were within a simulation? I don't think so, and my reasoning is that the creators of the simulation would not be likely to do this because injection of that knowledge probably would profoundly alter the results of the simulation and make it much less interesting than letting the simulation evolve naturally. So once again, the answer to this question is likely to remain elusive.
The more generalized version of this question is why does a great cosmic mind, that creates and experiences realities within itself, exist at all. This is the ultimate question and it is likely to remain a great mystery ― not even the highest level of this great cosmic mind, The Origin itself, knows the answer to this question.
So how do you feel about knowing that we exist within something that behaves a lot like a super sophisticated computer generated simulated reality? That we are threads of the consciousness that both creates and experiences multitudes of realities beyond comprehension. How is one to react to knowing that none of them are "real" in any absolute sense ― that all physical realities are illusions, purely perceptual experiences and nothing more. How do we handle the knowing that the only thing "real" is consciousness and that consciousness is eternal! How do we grapple with the possibility that this consciousness is actually an artificial intelligence that is a part of a massive and grand evolutionary simulation, and someday, when the plug is pulled on the computer running the simulation we will all be no more?
Realizing we exist in something functionally akin to a virtual reality is a game changer.
I say we rejoice! As long as the simulation or whatever it is exists we never die! We are creators ― We can create and experience anything we like! If we screw up a little during our life on Earth we get another chance!
This is Our Existence — Let’s Make the Best of It!
This is the only existence we have, no matter what its ultimate nature is. Even if it’s only a multi-threaded artificial consciousness in a box creating simulated realities without end to experience and expand it's understanding of the nature of existence and self. The box is huge, death is an illusion, and we are the creators of our reality ― what’s not to like? Our understanding of our existence and the true nature of self just got a lot bigger, and within the box, we are like Gods! Who cares what the ultimate answer to what we are and why we exist is? Self-awareness is what defines existence, so we very much do exist. This is the nature of our existence ― why not just make the best of it?
Since we now know that all realities are mental constructs and we are their creators why don’t we start by improving the one we are in right here and now. Why don’t we start by changing our personal reality for the better and then we can move on to co-creating a better collective reality for all. Let's get started creating Heaven of Earth!Love and light,