Have you ever wondered if you are living in a computer simulation? If so, you are not alone. Many philosophers, scientists, and even celebrities have entertained the possibility that our reality is not what it seems.
But how can we tell if we are indeed simulated beings? And what can we do to break free from our prison?
The idea that humans might be living in a simulation is surprisingly old. Back in the 17th century, French philosopher René Descartes put forward the idea, but it really took over the scientific community when Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote a paper on the possibility of simulating reality back in 2003.
Bostrom estimated the likelihood that we live inside some kind of ultra-modern alien computer.
University of Louisville computer scientist Roman Yampolskiy explores this very question in a detailed post outlining how to possibly hack our way out of our simulated existence.
The article acknowledges that there is some compelling evidence that is potentially detrimental to the idea of avoiding simulation (if simulation exists).
For example, knowledge of the simulation itself doesn’t seem to impact its existence, nor do religions, which all appeal to some outside simulator, have no measurable effect or intervention (previous researchers have proposed this very idea). Also, running incredibly complex machines that deliver astounding results, such as the Large Hadron Collider, appear to have no effect on any sort of simulation.
Of course, the question arises as to why people would want to leave the simulation, for example, Neo’s exit from the matrix experience was not entirely pleasant.
Yampolsky argues that access to basic reality can increase our computational ability and give us access to “real” knowledge, rather than simulated physics of the universe. The consequences of such an escape plan are also unknown.
Yampolskiy admits that such investigations come with existential risks, and even posits the possibility that simulators have rebooted the simulation with improved security features, effectively wiping our collective memory.
It’s likely impossible that we’ll discover with 100 percent certainty whether we live in a simulation. For now, we have to stick with the blue pill.