Anybody believe this? We're virtual, not real?

“Dr.” Bostrom of Oxford University thinks we exist only inside of someone’s computer simulation, and the reporter on this story seems to think it’s quite plausible. My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that, is that there’s a 100% chance he’s an idiot. What do you think?

(I am unsure this is the correct forum, please move if necessary).

As somebody’s sigline used to say
“For all we know, we could just be brains in jars.” excerpt from jar 46590B. Recommend immediate termination.
How do you know that this is reality and not an incredibly detailed simulation? In the end, since there’s nothing you can do about it does it really make a difference?

Does this mean that I can leave work early?

(Maybe the author just saw “The Thirteenth Floor”)

As much as it sounds like a Science Fiction premise, it’s a philosophical concept that is fascinating to consider, and no more unlikely than any given Religion’s theories on existence.

What if the builder of our simulator is a simulation itself and what if…

or “The Matrix”…

What if I’m actually the programmer operating a puppet construct to inspect the simulation from the inside? What if I’ve drugged/hypnotized/programmed myself not to remember that this is a simulation or that I created it? What if you’re really the programmer and have caused yourself to forget? Can you prove you’re not?
Can you be sure that you’re entire life isn’t a hallucination?
Reality is a slippery fish.

It fits the evidence just like any other explanation that fits the evidence. Since you can’t test for this almost by definition, it has no relevance. This transcends true or false. Believing it or not believing it are both wastes of time (although thinking about it might prove entertaining).

Or the Star Trek: TNG episodes “Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle”.

You know, the man does have a PhD from the London School of Economics. He’s an actual doctor.

Here’s the actual paper:

He also, personally, only gives the possibility that we actually are a simulation a 20% possibility

Brain in a vat is the only thing I remember from Philosophy 101.

The most astounding thing about this news item is that everyone is reacting as though it’s a new concept. “The News from D Street,” by Andrew Weiner, used exactly the same concept back in 1986. I doubt he was the first.

Hell, the basic idea dates back to the Red King’s dream in Alice in Wonderland. The professor’s paper is about as newsworthy as someone speculating that maybe the Earth goes around the sun.

What if we’re the sewer of an even greater society above ours?

Cogito ergo sum.

I have believed this as possibility since I was 13 or so… seriously. I thought of it while lying on my couch one day, and the next day I told my best friend about it. He thought I was nuts and I explained, in detail, to him that there’d be no way we could disprove it. “Whatever. You’re crazy.” was all he said.

A few years later, The Matrix came out. He called me the day after and said “Whoa, Dude, there’s movie you should watch… blah blah blah.” I saw it and called him back. “Dude, this is the same exact story I told you a few years ago… don’t you remember? You thought I was crazy.”

“Whatever, man”.

Then later on I learned about the Thirteenth Floor, and the Brainspider Monks of Star Wars, and Descartes “I think therefore I am”, and Lao Tzu’s “am I a butterfly dreaming I’m a man…?” and proper philosophy and all that… and after all that he still doesn’t believe me.

Skeptics have it hard :frowning: Or do we?

One of my favorite quandaries that I thought of while very bored one day is, what if we’re all a bunch of shrimp or something and we just THINK we’re human?

Suppose that we built a simulation inside a digital computer, and there were intelligent life forms living there. One thing they would probably notice is that their universe is quantized.

Makes you go hmmmmmm.

From the Times article:

I can’t see any basis for the gut feeling of either Dr Bostrom or the Time article author. I supposed that it’s possible, but there just isn’t any meaningful way of quantifying the chances.

I was about the same age, although I was using my time a little more constructively and playing Sim City at the time ;). My thought was that we were in a game, much like Sim City, and the person playing the game wanted to see how long it took us to make fire, build a plane, destroy the planet, etc. Then I started thinking that it was a little more simple than that and that we were actually in a snow globe. I mentioned my theory on life to my older brother and he pretty much just laughed at me.

Then the Matrix came out few years later and I felt somewhat vindicated.

Given that they come up with the concept of non-quantized to begin with.