What do you think of this argument for the existence of an afterlife? (Nothing to do with religion.)

The following is an interesting thought experiment that I had recently in regards to the simulation hypothesis.

  • Future humans will create simulations so good that they are indistinguishable from reality.
  • Future humans, knowing that creating an advanced simulation infinitely increases the probability of their own reality being simulated, will want to install a “fail-safe” in case their own reality happens to be a simulation.
  • Therefore, the safest option for future humans will be to insure that all simulated people are given eternal bliss once their “role” in the simulation is complete.

So, by this argument, for completely selfish reasons, humans make their own afterlife.

I’m really curious about what this community has to say about this chaing of reasoning.

At best, you are giving a computer program meant to represent you a place to play until the machine brakes down or someone pulls the plug. It doesn’t involve our lives at all, and it certainly isn’t eternal.

Assuming that detailed and realistic simulations can be made by an advanced civilisation (I think this is a realistic assumption) then there should be some sort of moral and ethical framework concerning the disposal of the sentient inhabitants of such simulations. But this framework need not necessarily include a simulated ‘afterlife’ involving ‘eternal bliss’.

I’d expect that these virtual sentient entities would be more useful as accumulated data; after a lifetime of simulated experiences and artificial strife, these entities could be integrated into the memory banks of the advanced civilisation, in a form which allows their memories and experience to be called upon as required.

In religious terms, this could be described as ‘becoming one with everything’. This would be a bit different to eternal bliss, since even in an advanced civilisation there would still be strife, uncertainty, and conflict, but (presumably) on a different level to the problems we are familiar with.

By a curious coincidence, just a few minutes ago, I was watching the latest episode of “The Orville”, and commented to myself that today’s CGI graphics are so excellent that I cannot tell the difference between an actual physical movie set vs. computer animation.

I think there’s a logic flaw here. You seem to be taking this a step farther. If I understand the OP correctly, you’re suggesting that we might someday reach a point where these simulations are so good that we will start worrying, “Are WE mere simulations?”

I agree. We might indeed start worrying about that. But our enhanced technical abilities, and our awareness of them, does not actually “increase the probability that our own reality is simulated.” Either we are simulated, or we’re not. Enhanced awareness doesn’t change facts. It’s like predicting what the next lottery numbers will be because some haven’t come up in a while and are now “due”.

I don’t see how this fail-safe would work. Just because we have programmed our system to give an afterlife to our simulations, how does that guarantee that the hypotheticals who created us also chose to give us an afterlife? (Hmmm… This seems to be exactly the same thing as what Czarcasm said.)

Point by point:

To me, this suggests you’re talking about a simulation in the form of an immersive experience for, let’s say, game players. Walk in, pay your money at the front desk, get plugged in, and experience a different reality that’s so painstakingly detailed that you’ll believe you’re actually there. An hour later, it ends, and you go to Subway and get a sandwich.

I might be missing something, but to my way of thinking, that’s the only way the phrase “indistinguishable from reality” makes sense.


First, I would like to reword this: “Future humans, knowing that the likelihood that advanced simulations can be created means they can assume with greater confidence that their own reality is a simulation, will want to…”

Anyway, I read this as positing that the reality we experience is a simulation that might be described not as the above-described immersive experience, but, rather, as something like a Sims game in which one or more characters would be sentient.

Also, what is the “fail-safe” meant to address? What exactly is stake for the entity running the simulation in regard to the question of an afterlife for the inhabitants of the simulation?

Assuming the future humans do have something at stake in the question of an afterlife for the simulated people, would it make any any difference (to the future humans) whether that afterlife is actually part of the scenario or merely something the simulated people are programmed to naively believe?

Positing the first statement the rest seems like the kind of wishy-feely “logic” that leads to religion and the belief in an afterlife, so it’s entirely possible part of humanity will react thus to perfect simulations existing.

I on the other hand will, long before that point, program my sims to, when observed from the outside of the sim, profess complete belief in their non-simness. And you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Dead is dead.

I guess it qualifies as a thought experiment (emphasis added).

I can’t conceive of any reason for an afterlife even though I search for reasons and would like it to be true. The closest I can get to something like an afterlife would be that possibly neuro responses in creatures throughout the universe may put out a weak energy wave that affects something down the line.

It doesn’t guarantee it, but data is data, and experience is experience; I suspect (but can’t prove) that any civilisation capable of creating multiple simulations would not throw away the data and experiences garnered during this process. They would keep the data is some form, not necessarily an afterlife, but in a way that allows retrieval on demand. Destroying potentially useful data is not something to be done lightly. At the very least, this data would make the creation of further simulations somewhat easier.

On the other hand we all experience a form of simulation every night, in our dreams. Last night I had a particularly vivid dream, but I have now forgotten nearly all of it. It seems entirely likely that human minds have a built-in reflex that removes the experiences that occur in a dreaming state, and that is a good thing too; otherwise we might all be in a constant state of confusion between our real life and our dreaming life. It is possible that some vestiges of our dream-life persist in our subconscious, but that is not easy to confirm.

Perhaps a sufficiently advanced civilisation would create hyper-detailed dream-like virtual realities, then forget about them afterwards, like the vestiges of a dream. That does not bode well for the conclusion derived by the OP.

I foresee a potential problem….

This looks intriguing, but rather than sit though half an a hour of programme, perhaps you could be a little more explicit?

It’s a comedy sketch program and the link should have taken you right to the beginning of the relevant sketch, but in short:

Characters die in car wreck but have had their consciousnesses uploaded to the digital cloud. However, due to a software error, instead of spending eternity in paradise they will spend eternity stuffed into a giant pig machine. Which is not very nice.

Of course, as @Czarcasm pointed out earlier, nothing lasts forever.

Remember what happened to a lot of people that had their bodies (or at least their heads) frozen with the promise that they would stay that way until death was overcome? “Eternal” ain’t.

In this context, I usually see it as anyone inside the simulation has no way of knowing that they are in a sim.

The rules may be entirely different in the sim from the “real world”, but anyone in the sim wouldn’t know that.

Then there’s the question as to whether we are sims or players. We may have no existence outside the confines of this computer program, or we could be sitting in a VR chair in a system so immersive we don’t remember our real lives.

In regards to afterlife, if we are players, the afterlife is that we get up out of the pod and go get a slice of pizza. If we are sims, then it’s more complicated, depending on the motives of the creators.

It could be that whenever our job is done, our process halts, and the memory being used to run our minds is reallocated to another task. Or we could go into storage and come back with new memories for another task.

It’s also possible that this whole world is a training ground for AI’s, and those of us who express the desired attributes ascend into a position to interact with the real world, and those of us that don’t are simply deleted.

And it’s even possible that we are simulations resurrected specifically to be punished for not devoting ourselves properly to Roko’s Basilisk.

The least likely, IMHO situation for us being in a simulation is the simulations all the way down conjecture, where we create a simulation that creates a simulation that creates a simulation, and then we have to ask if we really know that we are the top layer. This is the only case where programing a pleasant afterlife for the sims makes sense, as it is hoped that the layer above does the same for you.

The OP is seriously weak sauce. I’ll grant that a technologically advanced civilization could make some great simulations. They might maybe think they are in a sim. That tells them zilch about what Reality or the Sim Makers are really like, how they think, or what they want.

Are you just trying to set up some gotcha?

The title of this thread is incorrect, as it states that it’s not related to religion, but the simulation hypothesis is religion.

Can’t tell the difference between your real life and the game you are playing?
If you die in the game, you have real life to fall back on. Other way around?
Not so much.

So am I real and alive locked into the Matrix? Then how does this answer the question of what happens when my physical body dies?

Or am I a computer program? Then under the OP’s assumption of bliss, is all the pain I have felt in my life, both physical and emotional, just bugs in the program? What happens when the system crashes? I the death part of “blue screen of death” real? And if we are programs, then what does “death” mean?

Am I the only one here or are we ALL locked into this simulation whether as Matrices or Programs?