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.
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.