Technologists on the Simulation Hypothesis
Celebrity technologists and scientists acknowledge the Simulation Hypothesis. We may be living in a world computed by superhumanity to emulate its evolutionary history.
"The strongest argument for us being in a simulation probably is the following. Forty years ago we had pong. Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were. Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it's getting better every year. Soon we'll have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let's imagine it's 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale. So given that we're clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we're in base reality is one in billions. Tell me what's wrong with that argument. Is there a flaw in that argument?
"Arguably we should hope that that's true, because if civilization stops advancing, that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilization. So maybe we should be hopeful this is a simulation, because otherwise we are going to create simulations indistinguishable from reality or civilization ceases to exist. We're unlikely to go into some multimillion-year stasis.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
"I want to get the likelihood that you think we are in a simulation. Ten percent chance? Twenty percent? ...
"I think the likelihood may be very high. And my evidence for it is just it’s a thought experiment, and it’s simple. ... I just think when I look at what we measure to be our own intelligence, and we tend to think highly of it, getting back to Jim’s point, there’s a certain hubris just even in how we think about our relationship to the world. And that’s understandable perhaps, even in the search for intelligent life in the universe. It comes with the assumption that we’ll find life that also thinks we are intelligent. Well, if we look at other life forms on earth with whom we have DNA in common, there is none that we would rank ever in the history of the fossil record, or life thriving today, that we would rank with us and our level of intelligence. So, given our definitions, we’re the only intelligent species there ever was because we have poetry and philosophy and music and art. And then I thought to myself, well, if the chimpanzee has 98-whatever percent identical DNA to us — pick any animal. It doesn’t matter. Dogs, it doesn’t matter. Mammals have very close DNA to us. They cannot do trigonometry. Some people can’t do trigonometry. Certainly not these animals. So, if they cannot do trigonometry, and they have such close genetic identity to us, let’s take that same gap and put it beyond us and find some life form that is that much beyond us that we are beyond the dog or the chimp. What would we look like to them? We would be drooling, blithering idiots in their presence. The smartest chimp can do maybe some sign language and stack boxes and reach a banana, put up an umbrella, like our toddlers can do. Our toddlers do that. So, maybe the smartest human — bring Stephen Hawking forward in front of this other species, and they’re chuckling because they’ll say, oh, this happens to be the smartest human because he’s slightly smarter than the rest because he can do astrophysics calculations in his head, like little Timmy over here. Oh, you’re back from preschool? Oh, you’ve just composed a symphony. That’s so — let’s put it on the refrigerator door. We just derived all the principles of — oh, that’s cute. And so that is not a stretch to think about. And if that’s the case, it is easy for me to imagine that everything in our lives is just the creation of some other entity for their entertainment. It is easy for me to think that. So, whatever the likelihood is: zero percent, 1 percent, 17, 42, no answer, I’m saying the day we learn that it is true I will be the only one in the room saying I’m not surprised."