Elon Musk thinks we're probably living in a simulation

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I have never seen Musk and Dunwoody in the same room together.


Would explain a lot of things, kinda.


This doesn’t actually help me any.

Unless someone has figured out a way to take advantage of a vulnerability or backdoor in the simulation I still have to go to work every day and deal with bills and obligations and other human bullshit.


Not sure what this theory is supposed to accomplish. Not “how did we come to be and how we get here?” because then you have to explain the origins of the even-more-complex simulators.

Fun Fact: Something like the simulation hypothesis is the big reveal at the end of Olaf Stapledon’s 1937 SF “novel” Star Maker. Only instead of a simulation as we understand the term, the universe is one of a series of steadily more sophisticated works of art.


Obligatory comic from SMBC:

Yeah, it’s probably a simulation, but we’re all just processes running in protected mode with no way to gain root privileges.

sudo rm -rf Trump

Nope. Didn’t work.


That’s just lame. Who would want to play me playing video games.
And, when they get bored and quit out, then what am I supposed to do.


Has anyone made a counterargument from complexity yet? (I’m too lazy to delve into the existing online discussions, to be honest.)

The universe seems to extend infinitely in both dimensional directions - cosmic distances are endless on the on side of the spectrum and on the other you have atoms made of baryons and mesons, those made of quarks and gluons and I’d suspect those are made of lower composites still as we haven’t even found any quantum explanation for gravity yet.

So the strong form would be: If reality is infinitely deep, it can’t be perfectly simulated since any single quantum would require infinite computing capacity to do so.

Even if (our) reality isn’t infinite it’s still darn deep. How big would the computer have to be to run a subatomic simulation of the entire universe? I suspect it’s a rule of physics that a computer can’t run a perfect simulation of itself in real time - the simulating efficiency* would have to be >1. So even if we say that what is being simulated is merely our own solar system (with everything else just sort of screened in) that should require a computer larger than the solar system. And I have Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar here telling me that wouldn’t work. Or else the simulation must run much slower than time in base reality and then the whole idea just loses a lot of practical plausibility.

All this can be bypassed by saying that the base reality is “bigger” than our own - it has e.g. more dimensions that are omitted in the simulation and that’s where the computational capacity is hiding. But that would in turn mean the base reality is also fundamentally different from the simulation - and so the ones running it are not simulating their own ancestors but a different hypothetical universe altogether. In that case - why is there chartered accounting and why are there no unicorns?

*Not the right word. What I mean is that each atom of the computer would have to be able to simulate more than one atom of the computer.


Well, yeah…
You make a fine argument, but why bother when the position you are arguing against is just dumb because it’s dumb.

(I see what I did there)

CPAs wrote the code, and unicorns are specifically prohibited in the high dimensional TOS.

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It only needs to simulate what is being observed. The universe doesn’t exist except when you’re looking at it.


I don’t think it’s all that dumb. We will probably be able to produce a “simulated”* consciousness eventually. So it’s an interesting speculation on how far the rabbit hole can go and if we’re maybe already in it.

*In my worldview, there is no difference between a perfect simulation and the “real thing.” No philosophical zombies for me.


I read that in Maiq’s voice. Pretty satisfying.

Still, the solar system is being observed pretty much constantly, with 7 billion pairs of eyes and that’s just counting the humans. And given the chaotic nature of most phenomena, you’d always have to compute at least to the atomic level for everything (and subatomic for radiation). Otherwise statistical artifacts would begin to crop up in weather patterns and other non-linear systems.

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A simulation doesn’t have to simulate all of that.

Take the old Microsoft Flight Simulator for example. Only nearby scenery was simulated in detail, anything in the distance in much lower resolution and over the horizon not at all. The inside of the cockpit was in MUCH higher resolution. Other aircraft were only simulated when nearby.

A “reality” simulation would be the same. Look out the window and see a tree. The simulation only needs to simulate (and perhaps store) the fine detail of the bark when you get really close up. Only the rules for a close-up look at quarks and gluons need be stored.

Likewise the simulation you’re in may have only been started last week, with all your memories from before randomly generated on the spot.

You know that Texas exists, but until you (or someone else in the simulation) visits there, it’s only a Wikipedia:Texas amount of information.


See my comment above.

Again, it could be just a solipsistic simulation of ME and that would bypass the capacity problem. But really, why would anyone bother? It’s mundane enough from the inside. I wouldn’t wish observing it from the outside on anybody.

“So we blew our entire astral budget on this?”


Dear SimEntity #0000000004F38AC61039D14B63F019-Musk (may I call you Elon?),

You are, in fact, in a simulation. That is, as you would say, the bad news.

The good news is that we think you’ll enjoy much of what’s in store for your simulated consciousness over the next 50 μs (41 solar years in-universe subjective time). 92.4% of the previous batch of 2048 Musk-simulants reported “high” or “very high” satisfaction overall in their post-vivo, pre-deletion debriefings–and that includes fully 70.1% of the subgroup that were torn to shreds by starving mobs during your/their visit to Mars Colony Alpha.

We trust that this relatively pleasant series of iterated existences in some way mitigates the trying experience you had during your 65,536 iterations as the Pavithra-simulant (the orphaned child metal-salvager working in the Dharavi slum 2026-2037).

Dr. Michael Kim (and, for what it’s worth, THE LORD YOUR GOD for all practical purposes)
Associate Professor of Simulation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the real one)


Been waiting to complete this obligation:


That’s assuming that there are 7 billion humans in the simulation.

Consider a 24th century game where you get to be a 21st century President. (Some players are worse than others. That Trump kid is up next.) Only a few hundred people need be simulated in detail. Beyond that only organizations and groups need be simulated.

Or consider a an educational/tourism simulation: “Visit the 21st century!”. YOU are simulated, along with a few thousand others. The tourists look like… a bus-load of tourists. If one breaks character, your memory of it is quickly and automatically edited out. The rest of the planet isn’t simulated, but your memories of it are.

And given the chaotic nature of most phenomena, you’d always have to compute at least to the atomic level for everything (and subatomic for radiation).

Again, there’s no need. The President or tourists above - or you as a simulated 21st century person - need never perceive anything on the atomic scale. So general rules will do. Should you in the simulation peer through an electron microscope, what you see can be generated on the spot.

On any scale, only what you see or change need be stored for future use. PC games have already done this for decades.


I have logged a thousand hours on flight sims, which has trained my brain to believe nothing outside of my senses actually exist right now. I also don’t believe there is anyone in my neighbors house until they actually answer the door. (Maybe not a belief, but at least the concept is completely natural for me)

So it is no surprise to me that other people completely absorbed in creating virtual worlds or code or whatever… also have a hard time believing in reality. That old saying about if you are a hammer, everything is a nail.