Is it possible that we are not real and don't even know it?


#21

Got it, right, can’t believe I missed that. Makes sense.

Still though, there’s way too many variables to be confident in anything so specific about this whole discussion, making it potentially-fun-but-probably-not-useful. It definitely isn’t clear that everyone with hardware that can support a simulation would be subject to (or subject themselves to) an ethics committee. Maybe the physics of the simulating universe allows error-free computers with arbitrarily high speed. Maybe they allow hypercomputation/super-recursive algorithms/halting oracles/whatever. If that is the case we might not be a formal research project with massive funding, we might be some script kiddie goofing around on his (its?) phone. Maybe we’re the first draft of a class project that wasn’t supposed to get run, at all, and someone typed the wrong command into the UI. Maybe our creator went to jail for torture and mass murder. Maybe it’s a historical simulation by people in our actual future, and copies of actual humans’ actual experiences don’t count as additional suffering by our descendants’ moral calculus. Maybe someone with unbounded computing power is just running every possible program in parallel for fun. Just for some off-of-the-top-of-my-head possibilities.


#22

“Five untestable assumptions”??

I just want a “yes or no answer”, OK?


#23

First, so what? If string theory doesn’t have practical applications does that mean it isn’t worth the cycles some people spend on it?

Secondly, you don’t have much of an imagination. If our reality is a simulation then you can start to think about the substrate that simulation is built on. It may contain limits that we can probe. There may be weaknesses in it that let us peek out of our container or alter it entirely. Even if we can’t alter anything, surely gaining knowledge by itself is some reward.


#24

This is a corrupt and rehashed version of Nick Bostroms argument. The original presents a very simple and logical “yes” or “no” answer based on a few basic premises. This article literally adds nothing to the topic.


#25

Their hypothesis is nonsense. I’m sure you can poke a few holes I haven’t even thought of.

It really is an untestable hypothesis, and simply boils down to faith. It’s amazing to me how many sci-fi tropes are treated as articles of faith. FTL, frozen brains, disembodied personalities, the Matrix. Good solid reasons why they’re not even remotely possible, but every nerd has an unshakeable faith they will absolutely be real some day.

The whole question boils down to solipsism and the “other people” problem. No, you can’t prove that anything is real. But you can’t get much done without a few assumptions.


#26

To bad these physics professors didn’t post their experiment proposal in the Boing Boing comment section. You could have saved Dr. Savage and Dr. Beane a lot of trouble.


#27

Can anyone name ONE thing that would actually change for them if they knew for a fact that we were living in a simulation?


#28

“No answer,” then.

@Boundegar: AFAICT from your list, only FTL actually has “Good solid reasons why they’re not even remotely possible.”

My brain exists, therefore it is physically possible for a static record of its structure to exist. Physics may be computable, in which case simulations of conscious entities in virtual environments are possible. Possibility is different than likelihood, but much easier to determine. And yes, I too get annoyed by some of the things my fellow nerds sometimes take as articles of faith, but I’m also equally annoyed by other things that seem almost inevitable to me that they often don’t consider plausible.


#29

I’m obviously real. But the rest of you are simulations.

Sorry.


#30

This reality, real or created, contains Swedish Fish, so I am good with it.

image

Even this picture of possibly simulated candy fishes is making me happy.


#31

For some reason, the typical movie producer thinks the audience is as stupid as the typical movie producer.


#32

I could be blaming someone else for my horrible life instead of myself.


#33

I’m fairly sure that none of us are real.

As we’re all discrete entities, I’m sure we have been declared as integers.


#34

Isn’t this just a techno version of berkleyan idealism?


#35

I ask this in all seriousness.

Why would that matter?

Even if reality isnt “real” in some dorm room black light poster sort of way. Why would it matter. We all have to deal with the every day ins and outs of existing, even if that existence doesn’t technically match our assumptions.

You can keep going on about “what if the tables not really a table? maaaaan.” whatever it is it does a good job of holding my breakfast up.

BTW: my breakfasts not really a breakfast. Man.

It’s more like French toast at 8pm. Eating before 11am jacks up my belly.


#36

Meh. Don’t care. All of you poor sops are mere figments of my imagination. I am the only being that exists in my universe, and it is only my perversion that keeps it from being paradise.

IOW, it’s my world, and you are not even really here. Prove me wrong.

(I hate this sort of navel gazing. It can’t be disproven; therefore, it is not useful.)


#37

There’s too much tedious mundane minutiae of everyday life for it to be an effective simulation, IMO.

I judge my reality by the lack of eventfulness, interrupted by occasional moments of heightened eventfulness.

Now whether this is the darkest timeline, or if I’ve passed through a thinny, or something, that is yet to be determined…


#38

Well, that or nothin’s real but hey, who am I to say :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#39

That is how economics work! Because humans are so confused by their own abilities in symbolic representation, there is this hope that if they can convert reality into a symbol, and then manipulate the symbol, they can somehow actually get something for nothing in the world at large. I think it honestly explains like more than 95% of human activity. Religion, politics, finance - can all be reduced to this (IMO dubious) principle. It is an artefact/flaw of the human mind.

We are real, but most of our institutions aspire to the impossible.


#40

This one is called “Trumpenstein”.