BCC’s Ronan introduced me to the work of Nick Bostrom, an Oxford Philosopher. He writes and thinks on technology and ethics issues. He has a fascinating line of reasoning. He argues that quite possibly we are living in a simulation, like The Matrix.
1 Almost all civilizations at our level of development become extinct before becoming technologically mature.
2 The fraction of technologically mature civilizations that are interested in creating ancestor simulations is almost zero.
3 You are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
Ancestor simulations are similar to our video games but highly advanced and based upon future technology. The characters in current computer games are becoming more and more detailed. The more detailed you can make the action of that game’s characters, the more real the game. Imagine a time in the future where these character agents are so detailed that they are essentially instantiations of agents rather than just representations. Almost certainly, as computers continue to advance, this will become more possible. He is suggesting in number 3, that probabilistically, if civilizations have existed in time far into the past, than certainly technology has advanced to the point of being able to run these kinds of highly advanced agent-based simulations. If so, then your probability of being the ‘player’ is very low (He sees the simulationists as scientists, who are trying to discover facts of the universe with these computer simulations, but we all know they would most likely be gamers).
So today’s thought experiment is this. Given that you can’t tell if anyone is real or a simulation (whatever we might mean by ‘real’), how would it change your perception of yourself if you found out that indeed you were the background player of a massive game. Fodder for an elaborate version of SimEarth.
(Or is this just a description of what it means for a spirit to be ‘in’ a body.)