“Philosophers as far back as Plato millennia ago speculated that what we see may not be real at all. With the advent of computers, the idea took on new life… Is it possible that the world is just a computer simulation?” 1
The accelerated development of computer technology suggests that they could quickly become millions of times more powerful. What might computers with that kind of power and speed be capable of producing? Right now, “Harvard’s Odyssey supercomputer can simulate 14 billion years in only a few months.” 2
Click play to hear a brain balancing audio enhancement as you read.
It’s reasonable to imagine that future programmers could create an elaborate artificial, simulated world that might look and feel much like this one, which we call reality. Why would someone do this? Well, it would be a tantalizing idea and someone, at some point, might bow to temptation. We could be living inside the result of their choice.
Another theory posits that we are living inside an experiment, designed to yield vital information to the experimenters. For instance, “they” could be testing various challenges they are facing themselves, running beta tests with a model (us, in a simulated environment) to see what solutions we come up with and then assessing how well those strategies might work in their world. After all, this is a common procedure: start with a hypothesis, test it in a controlled environment, adjust for success and, when proven, migrate it to the real world.
As we survey the world scene, it’s fair to suggest that we might be involved in a test for humanity relative to… humanity! Can we become fully human? Can we learn to care for each other, regardless of our differences, or will we descend into tribal conflicts over theological differences, wealth, ethnic distinctions, politics, etc.?
Of course, we can’t prove (or disprove) any of this speculation, but we can determine — with our own choices — what kind of personal world we create. Why not be kind to each other? Do we need some sort of reward for that? Why not learn to be like the God(s), programmers, or accident that made us? And how would we become like them? They create. So do we. But our creating is different, it’s disconnected from the whole, it’s artificial, and it wreaks environmental havoc. Aspirations to be more faithful to our creator would require us to create the way they do, in harmony with the entire eco-system.
“So if computers and their data progress enough, could a functional human be created using the genome sequence inside a computer? And if you can build one being, mightn’t you build a whole world of them?
”Scientists speculate that someone may have already done that and created our world. To determine whether we’re living in a simulation, researchers are undertaking serious investigations—by examining the math that makes up our universe.
“Even if computers get vastly more powerful, the universe might seem much too complex to fit in one. Each of the seven billion people currently alive is complex enough to rival any computer imaginable. And we’re an infinitesimal part of a vast universe, which contains billions of galaxies besides ours. It would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to take into account that many variables.
“But a simulated world needn’t be anywhere as complex as it seems. A convincing simulation would need just a few detailed key figures and then a great many barely sketched secondary players. Think of games like those in the Grand Theft Auto series. They contain hundreds of people, but you only interact with a few. Life could be very much like that—you have yourself, and you have your close family and friends, but everyone you pass on the street? They’re not real. They have few thoughts and no emotions. They’re little more than set dressing.” 3
Does all this conjecture strike you as blatantly heartless? There’s a lot of thinking going on here and not much feeling. Of course, there’s the rub for artificial intelligence… “it” doesn’t feel. But can we be sure that our feeling capacity is not also just a program? Why would we imagine that our ability to feel proves we are more than a program? Couldn’t what we call emotion also be programmed in?
Thinking such thoughts endangers whatever conceptual bedrock we sit on, it threatens our security in “knowing.” And how we long to know, to feel that there is something solid about life. This conversation throws many balls up in the air. But that’s healthy, if only because this can stimulate thinking outside the box and stir us to seize the moments of our life with more gusto, because every game — real or simulated — and reality itself, does come to an end at some point. So far no one has gotten out of this one alive. The real question might not be, is there life after death but is there life before death?
Click Below to Download a Free High-Tech Meditation® Program