Numbers Suggest Reality Might Not be so Real

When the film The Matrix first broke box office records in 1999, it was considered a novel and unique idea.  But philosophers for centuries have been grappling with the idea that all of reality could be nothing more than a simulation or an illusion.  And now as computers continue to grow more advanced we’re faced with a future that suggests one day our own reality could be replaced by a computer generated illusion as our minds are transferred into a more digital format.  And yet there are those who suggest this shift already happened centuries ago.  Furthermore, they suggest they have proof.

If all of life were a computer simulation and all of our minds were simply streams of data spinning through a vortex of equations and ones and zeroes, there are a number of things that would have to be readily apparent to us – assuming the “real” reality were anything like this one.  For one, there would have to be rules and “laws” of physics that couldn’t be broken otherwise they would exceed the parameters of the program itself.  There would have to be constant reminders that our perceived reality was the real one.  And this theoretical “Matrix” would have to confound peoples’ understanding of technology to the point where a computer simulated reality was unlikely.  If it were to become too likely, it would risk ruining the illusion.

So take the following into consideration.  If we built a computer simulated reality and computer technology continued to improve to the point where computer simulated realities were the norm, then the consciousness of each individual within the simulation – though artificially generated – would believe theirs to be the one true reality.  In fact, they may give little to no thought of any other possibility.  And as the number of computers running simulations of the past continued to increase, these consciousnesses would flourish and be studied for a period.  After that, the simulations would gradually increase as the number of computers running them increased.  Currently there are approximately one billion computers in use in the world.  This is based on a study by Gartner, Inc.

The theory that eventually the numbers will support computer simulated reality as being more ubiquitous than our current “real” reality was proposed by Hans Morovec and later Nick Bostrum.  According to these theories, reality may never reach a sufficient level of technology where all computers are simulations of the one true reality, and even if it does these facsimiles of reality simulating software would be but a shadow of what would eventually be possible.  However, outside of these computers as time ticked on into infinity, the number of “real” realities versus “simulated” realities would quickly be outnumbered, leaving a question to everyone living – is any of this real if the statistical likelihood is so low?