Is this life real or a simulation? – Matthew R Francis – Aeon

Our species is not going to last forever. One way or another, humanity will vanish from the Universe, but before it does, it might summon together sufficient computing power to emulate human experience, in all of its rich detail. Some philosophers and physicists have begun to wonder if we’re already there. Maybe we are in a computer simulation, and the reality we experience is just part of the program.

via Is this life real or a simulation? – Matthew R Francis – Aeon.

Matthew Francis gives a good summation of the simulation hypothesis and the attempts of some scientists to determine if we are, in fact, living in a simulation.

I tend to be skeptical of attempts to show this, and Francis provides a good summation of why:

The difficulty with probing into the cosmos-as-simulation is finding the right scientific questions to ask: the ones that lead to testable consequences. In a hypothetical simulated Universe where the program manager can step in and fix problems in real time, we might not be able to distinguish between a real cosmos and an emulated one.

And that’s the rub.  If we live in a simulation, then we might be programmed to simply overlook anything that shows a fault in the simulation.  Even if we do find something, we can never know whether or not it’s a result of the simulation, or simply the universe not working as we expected.

I agree with Francis’s conclusion.  We probably don’t live in a simulation, but if we do, it doesn’t really change much of anything.

7 thoughts on “Is this life real or a simulation? – Matthew R Francis – Aeon

  1. A strain of current thinking is we’re in a holographic universe; a 3D projection onto a 2D universe. This doesn’t mean a Matrix-like world, rather the way we perceive reality.


    1. Do you mean the concept developed by Hooft and Susskind, usually called the Holographic principle? I agree, it’s a different concept than the simulation hypothesis. I haven’t heard anyone argue that the Holographic reality in their hypothesis is created by any intelligence. If I recall, they ponder that our universe could be on the event horizon of a black hole.

      Taking it further, other physicists (whose names escape me), thought that maybe our universe was the event horizon of a four dimensional universe. The question is, if we’re the event horizon of a black hole in a four dimensional universe, is that universe the event horizon of a black hole in a five dimensional universe…loop until exhaustion, turtles all the way down, etc.


  2. When it came to press, The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot was one of my very favorite stories and I still refer to it occasionally. A work The cellular universe: A new cosmological model based on the holographic principle by Hassan Azari looks interesting as well. However, these are entertainment I think, not science. Until science may determine the source for consciousness, I think we are stuck with science that may only describe without entire accuracy, the basic laws of physics and our cosmos. Long ago, in 1930, I believe it was, even Einstein noted resignation while entertaining and conversing with Rabindranath Tagore. If science is the religion that one may choose, then knowing is limited to only the subjective reality of the universe. It is real enough. I hope it is enough for purpose and I think it is for most of us. The genuine person need not concern themselves with what ego finding is right or wrong. God provides what is necessary for fulfillment and in this evolution, I find there is not any right or wrong. Certainly, I too enjoy preferences.


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