Monday, April 15, 2024

The Simulation Argument

Written By Radhika Soni (Grade 9)

Is reality even real? Or has life as we know it just been programmed?

Visualize a civilization. This civilization is constantly growing and advancing, to the point where they have such advanced technology, that they can simulate characters who have free will. These characters would be able to do what they wish, and never be the wiser that they do not exist and are only made of a string of code. Everything around them would be so well fabricated, that they would never learn the truth of their existence: that they live in a simulation, and nothing around them, including themselves, is real. So, the question is,

How do we know that we haven’t been simulated?

Maybe there’s a civilization so technologically advanced, that they can create an entire world with billions of ‘living beings’, and we are just the creations of their supercomputers and genius minds. The virtual reality is so realistic that we do not even realize that everything we are experiencing could be programmed.

This could be possible, but only if:

  1. Technology able to simulate consciousness exists: simulation or no simulation, every one of us is aware and conscious. We know that we are alive, living on a planet, and we each have our own intricately detailed lives. We have till now not been able to virtually mimic a being of consciousness (that kind of technology is extremely advanced), but who knows if someone out there has been successful in making it?
  2. Technology will continue to advance: evolution should continue, to the point where this kind of powerful technology exists to be able to simulate entire worlds. There should still be someone around to be able to do this, so their world must not be demolished by war, asteroids, climate change or life-ending disaster of some sort.
  3. These civilizations don’t destroy themselves: if these civilizations destroy themselves (climate change, nuclear wars, mass extinction) before any sort of complex technology is made, there is no possibility of us being in a simulation because the computer to handle that many operations to create a simulated reality does not exist.
  4. Advanced civilizations want to create simulations: we may not know the reason why, but the advanced civilization has to have a reason to simulate entire worlds. But because we are at a lower state of advancement, we could not possibly guess why they would want to do that, but they must have a good reason to, to keep the possibility of us being simulated.
  5. If this is a simulation, then there are likely thousands: if we are, in fact, a simulation, then who’s to say there aren’t more than just ours? This advanced civilization who owns the brilliant technology to this virtual reality could be running many simulations parallelly for whatever reason. The chances of us being in a simulation when there are thousands are much higher than us being a real civilization.

But this hypothesis is based on assumptions that we can’t prove or disprove at the moment. Just because this may be a simulated reality doesn’t make life as we know it any different. For us, this is our real world. Don’t try to smash your TV to see what the simulation could do, because, simulation or not, this life is real, for us, and you’ll still get into trouble.

The simulation hypothesis doesn’t make life any less mysterious, terrifying or strange. We still grow, change, learn, and live our life. We still live on a wonderful planet which is the most real thing for us, and we should enjoy it while we can. 

Featured Image Courtesy – ST Engineering

Radhika Soni
Radhika Soni
I'm an avid reader and enjoy writing. I love seeing and learning new things, be it the mysteries of the universe, a new piece of literature, or beautiful works of art. I also like theatre and playing the piano.


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