One of the on-going discussions amongst high-profile thinkers, physicists and philosophers is whether or not we are living within a simulation.


If you, me, everyone and everything are actually elements or characters within a giant computer game, we would not necessarily know it – according to this theory. This might sound similar to the plot behind “The Matrix,” but it is also legitimate scientific hypothesis. The University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom developed a popular argument for the simulation hypothesis back in 2003. Here is the abstract from his paper:

This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

If you wish to delve deeper, take a look here.

What are your thoughts?

  • It’s nonsense. The probabilities would only show we were “likely” to be in a simulation if the only possible choices for reality were “Computer Simulated Reality” or “The One Actual Reality”. But as we’ve seen in other thought experiments, there is an infinity of other untestable possibilities too. The mathematical argument that Bostrom makes completely breaks down under this dueling list of infinities. Therefore, there is no overwhelming possibility for any of these alternative explanations for our existence. We are still left with the parsimony of Occam’s razor, and the evidence in front of us, that reality is best considered simply as it appears.

    I wrote more about this here: http://www.evphil.com/blog/response-to-thought-experiment-51-living-in-a-vat