Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, August 17, 2007

Are We Real? Martin Rees Explores Simulation Hypothesis

Ever since I read the hypothesis that we might be living inside a simulation, the possibility has intrigued me. Not so much that it has affected the way I live in any way, but as an interesting thought-experiment; for example, what might glitches in the software look like?

In this very cool video, Martin Rees, an esteemed British cosmologist, explores this hypothesis, first postulated by Nick Bostrom. It's a five-part, one-hour Channel Four production. Check it out below.

The other parts can be found here.

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Jeff said...

Will have to watch this over the weekend. Sounds rather matrix-esque, but this is what I meant when I was thinking about how I would actually find out that a/the singularity had happened. What if it already has? Then yes implication is that our universe at some fundamental level is a simularcum. This just seems to be a post-modern way of expressing or re-expressing a lot of old ideas though. I mean - isn't it turtles all the way down... ?

Bob Mottram said...

I don't think these ideas originally came from Bostrom. They're things which philosophers and gurus have thought about for centuries. I remember when I was a teenager at school over 20 years ago having conversations with friends which were exactly along these lines - is what we're experiencing real? Why are the constants of physics and chemistry the way they are and not some completely different numbers? Are there multiple universes, or universes within universes? and so on.

I think what's happening here is that the idea of the life we experience being a sub-universe (a simulation within a larger universe) is far more comprehensible and believable to most people now than it was a couple of decades ago, since you can play a computer game or something like Second Life and imagine that if these things were just a few orders of magnitude more complex they'd be mirror images of the kind of world that we assume is the "real" one.