Are We Just A Computer Simulation?

This article got me to thinking about this.

Are we just a complicated computer simulation? How plausible is that possibility? In this article, Neil Degrasse Tyson says it’s 50-50. Really? Is joking? Or at least just speaking abstractly?

Also as I said in another message board, if we are, our creator is a jerk. War, famine, disease, poverty. I usually don’t support corporal punishment. But if it’s some little punk ass kid that’s responsible, I hope his parents beat the crap out of him. I’m serious.

Thoughts? :slight_smile:

Two answers:

  1. No.

  2. If answer #1 is wrong, it doesn’t matter, because if there’s no way to detect an anomaly in the simulation, it makes absolutely no difference to what “reality” is.

So actually, there’s just one practical answer: No.

Consider how far our simulations have come since we started using computers. Imagine how far they’ll go in the next million years or so.

Given world enough and time, simulations will become indistinguishable from reality. So are we in reality or are we in a simulation of reality?

Who knows.

I like to think that we are in a simulation. But not one where we’re just data. No, I want to live my life, die of some horribly painful disease, then wake up as a young “man” again with all my real friends around me in the gaming chamber laughing about how they really got me good that time.

If there were ever a time for Occam’s Razor, it would be this.



Have you heard of the God-has-abandoned-us hypothesis? Now think about Tron. Maybe whoever created the supposed simulation had no intention of creating us. They might not even be aware that we exist.


The notion that we’re a computer simulation is just a high-tech version of solipsism, the notion that everyone except you yourself is a product of your imagination (and that everything you think is real is only inside your head).

As already pointed out, it could be true but we can’t ever know it, and we can’t live our lives differently in any meaningful way by considering it to be true. So it is expedient to assume that there is a real world external to ourself and that we live in it and interact with it, and that it isn’t an illusion.

I remember a Doctor Who episode addressing this. (The universe was bad at selecting random numbers. I note that dice roll pretty randomly in real life, which they couldn’t do if we were in a simulation.)

Also, funnily enough, StarCraft: Blizzard (map) | StarCraft Wiki | Fandom

As soon as I saw this thread, I immediately knew who the OP is. :roll_eyes:

Answer: YOU may be.

If we were in a computer simulation there would be a fundamental pixel size like the plank length and we wouldn’t bother to render things until they were observed like in quantum mechanics.* …oh wait.

*I know know, both of those aren’t really true, exactly.

It’s like free will. Absolutely everybody in the world acts as if they have free will (including people who think they have instructions from god floating through their heads) and no evidence exists that their macroscopic actions are determined. That includes determined by being in a simulation. Therefore there is no meaning to a computer acting as god any more than there is to a religious god acting as god or any other type of creator that humans have dreamed up. It can’t be proved or falsified or distinguished from any other hypothesis. It’s a total waste of time and energy.

Questions like this presuppose that there’s any distinction between something being “real” and something being a “simulation”. Even setting aside the question of detecting such a distinction, how would one even define it?

If we were in a sim, I don’t think you could necessarily blame this on our creators. It could be that they just started the program with all possible outcomes and turned it on to see what would happen. We basically did all these things to ourselves.

Also, I’m with @wolfpup , whether we are or aren’t in a sim is irrelevant. But I will not say we are undoubtedly NOT in a sim. Maybe not photons in a computer, but a sim of some sort? Maybe.

I wrote a paper in some college class on this. I argued you cannot simulate a biological mind. The argument was something like… You can simulate the magnetic field created by a moving electron but you need an actual moving electron to create a magnetic field.

Yes! And I finally have pro

Some people are compelled by the laws of nature to believe in free will, while others freely choose to disbelieve in it.

Can’t we simulate magnetic fields in the abstract? Who is to say, with the right knowledge, that magnetic fields could not be emulated in the abstract?


Oh come on, name me three video games that are all sweetness&light. The vast majority of them would be absolute horror shows if we experienced them as “real”. That’s just how entertainment works.

The fact that the world around us isn’t Grand Theft Auto is probably the best argument that we’re not a simulation.

That, or the Real World is so boring that we’re their equivalent of Grand Theft Auto.

I wish I could find the reference, but it’s kind of neat: if we’re a simulation, then the people simulating us probably are a simulation, and the people we’re simulating are probably running a simulation of their own, and so we’re pretty much all identical, and thus no one can turn off the simulation because doing so at any level means turning off you own reality.

Sabine Hossenfelder, a well-credentialed physicist, and my favorite pop-science writer/blogger, explains the problem with the simulation hypothesis very clearly. It’s pseudoscience.