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This is one of the most-saved, read, and shared stories on Pocket.

Recommendations from Pocket Users

Guillaume VENDÉ

Shared June 30, 2016

Pourquoi Elon Musk pense que nous sommes des simulations virtuelles... Focus sur les possibles futurs...

Thomas Knoll

Shared January 11, 2017

High Castle

Nishan Pantha

Shared February 2, 2017

do watch the movie "the 13th floor"

Nukeador

Shared February 28, 2017

#mindblow

Matt Sager

Shared December 26, 2016

Aagh The Matrix!

Aarón García del Real Lozano

Shared February 23, 2017

¿Y si somos los Sims con los que los humanos del futuro están experimentando? 🤔

Burak Eldem

Shared August 1, 2017

"Bir simulasyonda yaşıyor olabilir miyiz?" Soru çok klasik ama yazı fazlasıyla dikkate değer.

Fred Muya

Shared February 11, 2017

Interesting thought

Joe Fletcher

Shared July 11, 2016

Game changer!

Sandeep C Kannikanti

Shared January 11, 2017

The coolest part of all of this: It helps us ground fascinating conversations

Will King

Shared February 17, 2017

"Perhaps our overlords are still asking the same thing. Perhaps they’re running these ancestor simulations, hoping one of us finds out first."

Thomas Eriksson

Shared July 12, 2016

Nu förstår jag äntligen hur det hänger ihop. Typ.

Wouter De Smet

Shared December 28, 2016

Are we living in a computer simulation? Food for thought •

Samarth Jajoo

Shared July 30, 2017

Oh no we are in a simulation. and even in that we are insignifant. Where are we on the significance number line?

Lindsey Jones

Shared March 27, 2018

that's it I'm going off the grid

jens

Shared July 4, 2016

Fascinating :)

Aleksey Razbakov

Shared January 23, 2017

Matrix is back!

Elon Musk thinks it's almost certain that we are living in a computer simulation.

In short, we are characters in an advanced version of The Sims — so advanced that it creates, well, us.

Does anyone of you share the same idea?

Godiva Golding

Shared January 2, 2018

Good (4/5)
Click bait title
Alternative "Philosophical argument that humans are living in a simulated world: amazing and thought provoking"

Alexis Sukrieh

Shared August 4, 2017

Fascinating posthuman philosophy

Patrick T Hoffman

Shared December 24, 2016

everything that makes us human is physical processes.

Rafael Freitas

Shared September 8, 2017

Quite possibly true.

Fabio

Shared June 27, 2018

Best headache ever

Carlos Vega

Shared December 17, 2016

And that brings up the fascinating question of where base-reality humans come from — the ones not in a simulation.

Camilo Luna

Shared February 5, 2017

Mindblowing!

If we can simulate human worlds, then presumably future humans will run simulations of their ancestors — us!

Sourabh Nandwana

Shared September 25, 2017

You need determination more than knowledge and money to do anything. Every lock has its key and will is the map to find it.
#Startup

Rox De Leon

Shared January 5, 2017

Elon Musk read so much about the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 😂

Andreia Mariana Fernandes

Shared January 28, 2018

Black Mirror S04

Daniele Parenti

Shared January 15, 2017

Still can't follow why Musk thinks it's nearly certain we're in a simulation but the argument is definitely entertaining. I'm more on the 'why would they run simulations of ancestors?' side of the argument

Leandro Ribeiro

Shared March 10, 2017

ah ah ah..

James Stevens

Shared March 22, 2017

"In short, we are characters in an advanced version of The Sims — so advanced that it creates, well, us."

"In short, we are characters in an advanced version of The Sims — so advanced that it creates, well, us."

Kim

Shared December 17, 2016

I love this thought provoking, reality questioning stuff <3

Karen E Lund

Shared December 23, 2016

This reminds me of the theory, popular a few decades ago, that ancient humans learned astonomy, pyramid building, etc., from aliens. Yes, it's possible, but it does nothing to explain where the aliens (or the programmers of a computer simulation) came from or learned to do what they did. Worse, it erects a historical and intellectual boundary that seems impossible to cross in looking for human origins.

Kevin Kestler

Shared December 28, 2016

There's a reason Elon Musk and his brother talked about this so much that they had to ban it from the hot tub.

Kevin Cocchi

Shared February 6, 2017

:0

Jennifer Villalobos

Shared February 18, 2018

thank you for sharing...prospecting the future is needed. if you can't imagine the impossible then you are working on the wrong things

Professor XYZ

Shared June 9, 2018

What do you think? Are we living in a simulation?

Alpha Lim

Shared August 20, 2018

You thought you had a handle on reality...

Yacine ACHIAKH

Shared February 2, 2017

Wanna get mind-fucked?

Gonçalo Pereira

Shared December 23, 2016

Interesting thoughts for 2017 😶

anosh Tariq

Shared January 12, 2017

We've tricked our minds into thinking that pixels are real.

Brandon Dorr

Shared February 13, 2017

Quick summary of simulation theory

A I

Shared March 2, 2017

"...Perhaps they’re running these ancestor simulations, hoping one of us finds out first."

anosh Tariq

Shared March 19, 2017

"I understand the instinct to treat the idea as absurd, and to ignore people who suggest these things. It’s what happens when you challenge the common beliefs about reality, kind of like Aristarchus of Samos, who first thought the Earth wasn't at the center of the universe — almost 2,000 years before Galileo."

Michael Williams

Shared August 18, 2017

Provocative take. It's like AI and The Matrix in a mashup.

Melanie

Shared October 16, 2017

Here's hoping we're not the the Matrix.

maekyo io

Shared April 14, 2018

i’ve never even seriously thought of this perspective

Colin Pieters

Shared January 20, 2017

We are reminded, time and again, that what we see and what we know are quite limited.

Hooi San Ng

Shared January 24, 2018

Guys, we are living in a Black Mirror episode.

Josh von Schaumburg

Shared July 1, 2016

Are we in a simulation!?

Cameron Kleiman

Shared July 1, 2016

hey! I love these Vox cartoons! and Elon musk!

Jan B

Shared July 14, 2016

Hm

Fabian Schwendenwein

Shared December 24, 2016

Such an interesting peace dismantling Musk's thesis that we are living in a modern-day computer simulation.
Admittedly, it really seems surreal at first, however it turns out you can actually make sense out of it as you proceed reading... Give it a read!

If we are in a simulation, then there exists some higher-level being — albeit very different from an all-powerful, benevolent one. But that being is us, or a future version of us.

Gene Q

Shared December 25, 2016

Are we living in a video game? #mindblowing

Luca Fauciglietti

Shared January 14, 2017

Everything is fake basically.

Gatis Narvaiss

Shared May 18, 2017

Perhaps our overlords are still asking the same thing. Perhaps they’re running these ancestor simulations, hoping one of us finds out first.

Cedric Jehan

Shared October 29, 2017

Nous vivons dans une simulation, comme les Sims. Pour comprendre il faut lire ça 👇.

Louis Ziegler

Shared June 7, 2018

faszinierend 🙈🙊


This cartoon explains why Elon Musk thinks we’re characters in a computer simulation. He might be right.
By Alvin Chang on June 23, 2016 9:20 am

Elon Musk thinks it's almost certain that we are living in a computer simulation.

In short, we are characters in an advanced version of The Sims — so advanced that it creates, well, us.


I understand the instinct to treat the idea as absurd, and to ignore people who suggest these things. It’s what happens when you challenge the common beliefs about reality, kind of like Aristarchus of Samos, who first thought the Earth wasn't at the center of the universe — almost 2,000 years before Galileo.


But these ideas push us to think more rigorously about what we accept as reality. We are reminded, time and again, that what we see and what we know are quite limited. And we have to devise increasingly clever experiments to see more of the unseen.


This cartoon is about laying down the logic of the simulation argument.

Understand it first, and then dismiss it — or, better yet, don't. It doesn't argue that we are necessarily in a simulation. It just says it's one of three possibilities for the future of humanity.

Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote the definitive paper on this, so we're essentially walking through his piece.

Let's go back 40 years!
In the early 1970s, the most advanced game was Pong — two rectangles and a circle, bouncing around.


Fast-forward to 2000, and we have The Sims — animated characters that interact with each other, with objects, and with their own feelings.


Now we have 3D headsets, like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. You are the character, and your body can interact with the simulated world. We've tricked our minds into thinking that pixels are real.


With modern computing, we're also able to forecast weather and simulate how chemicals in our body work, among many other complex things. We’ve come a long way in a short time.


So let's fast-forward 10,000 years!

We went from Pong to headsets that transport our minds into fantasy worlds — in just 40 years. So even if our speed of technological advancement slows down, in 10,000 years we should be able to run simulations of ourselves. (That is, if we're alive, of course. But more on that later.)

It's not just that the graphics will be better or the mechanics will be better. No, it's that we'll be able to simulate the individual synapses in the human brain, much like The Sims kept track of how hungry your character was.


We can simulate these things because, according to scientific evidence, everything that makes us human is physical processes. Presumably we will understand all of it in 10,000 years and then recreate these processes in a computer simulation, much like how we can recreate the way a ball bounces.

So in 10,000 years, computers could simulate the entire world.


(This dome is only a representation of these simulations, which would occur computationally — not inside domes. But it’s a great visual, right?)

And how do we get the computing power for this? Bostrom says we can send tiny robots to other planets, which will self-duplicate and turn the planet into a huge computer.


So if we can build world simulators, we’ll probably simulate our past selves
If we can simulate human worlds, then presumably future humans will run simulations of their ancestors — us!

And because simulating the entire mental history of humans would cost a tiny fraction of future humans' resources, they'll run it again and again — maybe millions or billions of times:


But what if the people in the simulations create their own simulation?

If we've run billions of ancestor simulations, surely a lot of them would reach the stage when they can create their own simulations.


But if we are creating billions of simulated, conscious humans inside a computer — and they have the same capabilities as us — then that means our consciousness is no different from that of our simulated humans.

That means we could be characters in a simulation

In fact, if there are zillions of conscious humans, and far fewer humans living in "base" reality, it's almost likely we are in a simulation right now, as you read this story.


But another possibility: We kill each other before then
The other possibility is that humans go extinct before we reach that stage.

Maybe it's global warming. Maybe it's killer pandas. But Bostrom says the most "natural" interpretation is that we develop a technology that is misused — like self-replicating nanobots that are essentially a mechanical bacteria, which end up killing all life on the planet.

And another possibility: Future humans just don't want to run ancestor simulations
This could be because they find it unethical, since they would have to make conscious simulated humans go through the suffering of, well, life — especially life before their innovations.

Or it’s possible that future humans don't have any desire to run ancestor simulations, because they're more concerned with advancing for pleasure.

So the simulation argument is: One of these things must be true
That means we’ll end up using technology for pleasure and we don't even care about simulating ancestors, we’ll end up killing ourselves, or we’re living in a simulation.

Musk thinks it's almost certain we're in a simulation. Bostrom believes there is about a 20 percent chance that we're in a simulation, but thinks it is subjective.

But both believe one of these three possibilities will happen.

The coolest part of all of this: It helps us ground fascinating conversations, even about the metaphysical
There's a reason Elon Musk and his brother talked about this so much that they had to ban it from the hot tub.

Bostrom, in the introduction to his paper, wrote something beautiful about this argument:

Apart from the interest this thesis may hold for those who are engaged in futuristic speculation, there are also more purely theoretical rewards. The argument provides a stimulus for formulating some methodological and metaphysical questions, and it suggests naturalistic analogies to certain traditional religious conceptions, which some may find amusing or thought-provoking.
If we are in a simulation, then there exists some higher-level being — albeit very different from an all-powerful, benevolent one. But that being is us, or a future version of us.

And that brings up the fascinating question of where base-reality humans come from — the ones not in a simulation.

Perhaps our overlords are still asking the same thing. Perhaps they’re running these ancestor simulations, hoping one of us finds out first.

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Dionne Schouwstra

Shared October 12, 2018

Meta to the max!

Brandon

Shared September 8, 2016

"We are reminded, time and again, that what we see and what we know are quite limited"

Neelansh Mathur

Shared December 18, 2016

Dammit. "My whole life was a lie..." :P

Camille Marie

Shared January 27, 2017

We went from Pong to headsets that transport our minds into fantasy worlds — in just 40 years. So even if our speed of technological advancement slows down, in 10,000 years we should be able to run simulations of ourselves. (That is, if we're alive, of course. But more on that later.)

Camille Marie

Shared January 27, 2017

Apart from the interest this thesis may hold for those who are engaged in futuristic speculation, there are also more purely theoretical rewards. The argument provides a stimulus for formulating some methodological and metaphysical questions, and it suggests naturalistic analogies to certain traditional religious conceptions, which some may find amusing or thought-provoking.

Jestin VanScoyoc

Shared February 23, 2017

...dude...

Roberto R

Shared February 26, 2017

everything that makes us human is physical processes. Presumably we will understand all of it in 10,000 years and then recreate these processes in a computer simulation, much like how we can recreate the way a ball bounces.

Sean Garvey

Shared March 11, 2017

Not saying I agree but am saying worth reading. and I don't cosign alot of stuff, ESPECIALLY regarding writing.

Elizabeth Myburgh

Shared April 16, 2017

Interesting!

Anthony Xu

Shared May 1, 2017

Life has progressed for many years, and we can only imagine what can happen. If it comes to worse we will know whether we live in a simulation or not. 🤔

stanw1201

Shared May 30, 2017

Trippy

Christopher Weisheit

Shared August 1, 2017

Interessant

BottledLemonadeNews

Shared September 9, 2017

Whoa....WHAT?!??

Nurizzati Rohim

Shared September 19, 2017

MIND-BLOWN.

Cristiano Costa

Shared November 27, 2017

Sim? Não? Faz alguma diferença na vida prática no presente? Fará alguma diferença na vida prática do futuro?

hamid jafari

Shared December 5, 2017

sooooo right

according to scientific evidence, everything that makes us human is physical processes

Prabin Parajuli

Shared January 10, 2018

Made me think twice !! 🤔🤔

Prabin Parajuli

Shared January 21, 2018

It is possible. I believe our knowledge is very limited and it is naive to think we are the smartest living in this entire Universe.

Libby Saunders

Shared March 22, 2018

Great persuasive story without making it BORING

Kaj van der Geest

Shared May 23, 2018

Well this is interesting.

Ace

Shared August 2, 2018

this is fucking crazy, made me feel sorry for wasting my potential😅😅

Alessandro Gadaleta

Shared October 13, 2018

Better than a Sci-fi movie!

Alessandro Gadaleta

Shared October 13, 2018

Better than a sci-fi movie!

Abhimanyu Sharma

Shared January 23, 2017

A mind boggling argument. Worth a discussion!

Ili Duka

Shared April 25, 2017

why we could be in a simulation