In increasing numbers, more and more scientists are beginning to question whether or not we are living in a simulated reality, and in turn, are discovering new rationale that suggests that we indeed are.
In a recent episode of "Closer To Truth", show host Robert Lawrence Kuhn discussed the question with a number of scientists that are well versed on the subject, and each of them see indications that we may very well be living in a constructed reality, simulated in a computer.
Science fiction writer David Brin Points out that the concept of a simulated reality has been present throughout human history, from philosophers such as Plato, through fundamental concepts in many of the world’s religions. And example he cites is the Chinese parable of the Emperor, dreaming that he is a butterfly that is dreaming he is an emperor.
Philosopher and director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, Nick Bostrom, presents what he calls his "simulation argument", where, assuming other intelligent civilizations exist, one of these three arguments must be true: 1) All civilizations become extinct before becoming technologically mature; 2) All technologically mature civilizations lose interest in creating simulations; 3) Humanity is literally living in a computer simulation. Basically, for us to not be living in a computer simulation, civilizations always either destroy themselves before reaching the technological capability to simulate reality, or they have to have absolutely no interest in doing so to begin with.
Futurist and computer scientist Ray Kurzweil likens the universe as we see it to being intrinsically composed entirely of information, meaning a precise simulation would be indistinguishable from an actual reality. He says that the most fundamental aspect of the universe is information, that seems to be being calculated in some fashion, and thus, as Kurzweil puts it, "the universe is a computer."
Co-founder of MIT’s AI laboratory and cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky says that if we are living in a simulated reality, there’s the possibility that one might be able to find mistakes in the programming, akin to rounding-off errors, or intrinsic patterns in reality, that might give away the game, so to speak.
UK Astronomer Royal Martin Rees points to computer simulations that are already being employed by scientists to simulate large-scale systems. "We can’t do experiments on stars and galaxies," he explains, "but we can have a virtual universe in our computer, and calculate what happens if you crash galaxies together, evolve stars, etc. So, because we can simulate some cosmic features in a gross sense, we have to ask, ‘As computers become vastly more powerful, what more could we simulate?’"
"It’s not crazy to believe that some time in the far future," Rees continues, "there could be computers which could simulate a fairly large fraction of a world." Of which begs the question: are we actually in what we would consider a future date, but living in a world that simulates the conditions of the early 20th century?