A recent article by Philip Ball bears the title “We might live in a computer program, but it may not matter.” I will take that farther. I say it is very probable that we live inside a computer program, and it matters. Sort of.
First off: why double down on an idea that is already extreme enough to make a good number of heads explode?
I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details of the arguments for a simulated universe; there are many well-written articles available on the subject (link to pixelation, Musk, Kurzweil, etc). For those readers for whom this is a new idea, the main points are:
- Our own ability to create digital versions of reality is growing stronger at an exponential rate;
- If this continues, simulation will become for all practical purposes identical with reality;
- It will become possible to create simulated characters with such sophistication that they may become self-aware;
- Therefore, it is possible that a far more advanced civilization than ours has already achieved this;
- Thus it follows that we could possibly be the characters in such a simulation;
- There are features of our universe that indicate a digital structure.
Now, how do we get from possible in theory to probably true?
Artificial intelligence has wonderful potential for solving problems. It also has terrifying potential to exterminate its creators. (link) What would be the best way to failsafe an artificial intelligence?
Create it inside a virtual universe identical to the real one; it has no knowledge of the real universe but acts as if it were experiencing the real world.