Simulation Theory: We’re Really Here

Has anybody watched the Joe Rogan/Elon Musk Podcast?

He discusses in pretty deep detail an Origins Theory that I have never considered before. He believes that it is nearly a 100% sure thing that we are part of an advanced computer simulation. The Simulation idea goes something like this:

Advanced Beings far far superior to us have sent out computer code that simulates their past(s) to learn from them in the same way that we learn from the simulations that we create on earth. Somewhere in the relative past, some sort of immensely powerful Beings wanted to experiment with the universe and we are part of that experiment.

At first glance, this idea sounds absolutely insane, however, the more I think about it/study it, I don’t think it is as crazy as it sounds. Here’s how I think it has some compelling arguments:

1) Ask Musk discusses, humans have the ability to create with limited bandwidth, limited by brain chemistry. Our neurons can only fire to so fast, and so our computation speed is limited. Computers don’t have this problem, because they can make decisions at basically the speed of light. Whatever created us would have to have nearly unlimited bandwidth- advanced super-human beings would meet this requirement easily.

2) Our advancements in neural networks/artificial intelligence is impressive to the point that we can now begin to comprehend a computer that functions much like human can. Musk discusses how all businesses in the modern world are “cybernetic collectives” where humans and machines form the entire economy. In his view, we’re already connected- just not physically. It is no longer science fiction to imagine a computer that is smart enough to make another computer.

3) Stories of origins are inherently a theological ideas, and so it is interesting to ponder what kind of implications Simulation explains how we got DNA, which is essentially a set of 1s and 0s that tell us how to build our biological systems. That’s really powerful. In addition, the other constants of the universe would would have been defined as well by these advanced beings.

With the speed that computers can operate, and the massive-perfect memories that they can create to make decisions off of, tech leaders are legit terrified of what these things can do. Such powerful creations are feared to be advanced enough to create their own simulations to constantly improve itself.

I really really itched to research what the great Christian minds think about this, but I put off the urge to try to think through this myself. With a little more thought, I do have a few philosophical objections to this idea.

1) The simulations that we know of are limited by their own internal reference points that are defined by superior, more capable agents. It doesn’t seem logically possible for those in a simulation to be aware that they were in one. In other words, because simulations are only representations, it makes no sense that the representation could “figure out” that it wasn’t *really* what it was representing.

Imagine the Sims characters figuring out on their own that they weren’t real, and that they were just a series of 1s and 0s. How about a series of 1s and 0s on your TV screen figuring out that it in fact was not Shrek the Ogre and only a video data stream?

I don’t see any good reason to think that we’d be able to figure out that we were simulated beings. If we ever did, it would seem to be that we stumbled upon correctness. That is hardly a rational position.

2) The problem of the first cause still applies in the case of Advanced Beings/ Simulation Theory. This of course is subverted in the Christian apologetic by making distinction between existing contingently vs by necessity. There would have to be a model to explain why Advanced Beings exist by necessity. The counter-objection to this point would most likely be something along the lines of questioning the very Laws of Nature as we know it. It could go something like, “well, perhaps our reality was just developed with specific laws and constants, but why would all of reality have to be? Such a question begs the question that reality is bigger than what we know and would also be unable to be rationally affirmed, since the presupposed logic used in the question depends upon our own reality. It is a dangerous game to question the Laws of Nature- once this is done, rationale is gone with the wind.

In conclusion, I don’t think the Simulation Theory is as crazy as it sounds, given the trajectory of how quickly our technology is moving today. However, there seem to be at least a few philosophical problems with the idea.

Let me know what you guys think.

-P

2 thoughts on “Simulation Theory: We’re Really Here”

  1. Hi, many thanks for this post (and your comment below the related post on my blog). The criticality of this theory is that it is non-falsifiable. So even if anyone could find an argument why such a computer simulation could never work, the supporters of this theory could make the imagined computer a little bit faster and powerful. The theory also supposed that technical development and evolution are linear, “ever improving” processes, which is doubtful, as unsuspected events avail (see my example of volcanic disasters in my blog) and as resources are limited – Musk should realize this if he would look at concentrations of Cobalt (needed for the batteries of eCars) on the planet: at one point you hit the ceiling. Musk is definitely a prominent entrepreneur – but is he a believable philosopher?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Clemens, thanks for the reply!! Sorry I am so late seeing this. Yeah, I agree that the main problem with the idea is that it can’t ever be proven false. All you have to do is just keep pushing back the goal posts to make it seem true. I agree, and think we need to be careful about giving pop-sci figures philosophical weight.

      Like

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