If only we were stuck in beta.
If the past 12 months have you feeling like you’re stuck in the beta version of some giant, buggy simulation, we’re right there with you, what with the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and depending on which side of the fence you sit, the US and UK elections.
But despite what Elon Musk says, the barrage of weirdness we’ve been experiencing lately is just the way of the Universe, says Harvard theoretical physicist Lisa Randall, who once described the probability that we’re living in a giant video game of the future as “effectively zero“.
human species to extinct before ‘posthuman’ stage
If you’re unfamiliar with the simulation hypothesis, it’s based on a 2003 paper by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford, who argued that at least one of the following propositions must be true:
– The human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage;
– Any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
– We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
What is ‘posthuman’ stage
That ‘posthuman’ stage Bostrom is talking about refers to the probability that at some point in the future, our technology would be so advanced, a single computer could simulate the entire mental history of humankind, using less than one-millionth of its processing power for 1 second.
Now imagine that a posthuman civilization in the distant future manages to build a massive network of these ‘ancestor-simulations’, into which we could upload replicas of the minds of our ancestors to play out their lives in a giant computer program.
Assuming these minds had a ‘consciousness’ – something that scientists have been considering recently – they would realistically demand something akin to human rights so they weren’t some kind of robotic slave race. But that’s starting to sound a whole lot like us…
And that sounds a whole lot more scientific to us.
What about you? What do you think, are we living in a gigantic computer program?
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