25 September 2016

Are We All Living Inside a Computer Simulation? (It's More Likely Than You Think)

Are We All Living Inside a Computer Simulation? (It's More Likely Than You Think)

Look at your hand. Look closely. Can you see the pixels? Probably not, right? The human eye might not be able to discern the individual pixels that make up our reality but, according to NASA scientist, Rich Terrile, they are there.

Our universe’s pixels, in the sense that Terrile describes them, are the smallest possible units of space, time, volume and energy. They are so small that they cannot possibly be broken down into anything smaller. For reasons that we’re not smart enough to understand, the existence of these units means that our reality is finite and therefore computable.

What this means, at least in theory, is that it will eventually be possible for us to create a perfect simulation of our universe. Such a universe would be mathematically identical to our own universe and therefore indistinguishable. It then stands to reason that the inhabitants of that simulated reality would eventually be able to create their own perfect simulation, until we have a long line of simulated realities indistinguishable from the first “real” universe. So, how do we know that our universe is the original, unsimulated one?

Image Credit: Nayuki
How do we know?
We don’t. In fact, according to University of Oxford philosopher, Nick Bostrom, it’s far more likely that we are in a simulated reality than not. It’s simple statistics. If there are a potentially infinite number of simulated realities and just one real reality, the probability of ours being the real one is virtually zero.

If you’re still not convinced that we’re all living inside the Matrix, then theoretical physicist, James Gates, might be able to change your mind. The respected scientist claims to have found an error-correcting code in the theoretical mathematics that governs the universe. What makes his discovery truly bizarre is that the exact same code was already being used by the likes of Google to find and correct errors in data transmission. According to Gates, finding this code in a universe that is not computed would be “extremely unlikely”.

So there we have it. We’re all simulated so life is meaningless, right? Maybe not. Max Tegmark, a cosmologist from MIT, thinks that we can still find meaning in life: "If you're not sure, at the end of the night, whether you're actually simulated or not, my advice to you is to go out there and live really interesting lives, and do unexpected things, so the simulators don't get bored and shut you down".

Seriously, don’t let them get bored
What do you think? Are we living inside a computer simulation? Let us know what you think in the comments and don't forget to follow us on social media (TwitterFacebookGoogle+) to avoid missing out on new articles! [wide]

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