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Are We Characters of a Mere Video Game?


In 2001, Nick Bostrom a professor of Philosophy at Oxford University published a paper "ARE YOU LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION?". In his paper, he claimed that we humans might be a part of a Video Game designed by what he calls post humans.


Many other scholars agree with this theory and have extended their support to it. To an extent, almost all religions also claim the same thing. Most religions claim that this universe is created by a Deity/God with certain rules set in place which is the basic theme of Bostrom's theory as well. Even a very famous movie "Matrix" is also based on the similar concept.


So let us talk about the research paper in more detail, I will also try to briefly cover other researches/papers published on similar lines.

Bostrom's Theory


If we look at the past 50 years of evolution of technology say in video games, the progress is beyond imagination. We started with arcade games some fifty years back and now within 50 years, we have games based on the virtual reality concept. Nick Bostrom based his theory on this very fact.


He argues that in the next 100 or say 1000 years, technology will make huge much progress in the field of computing power. This could even make it workable to replicate the human brain and create virtual humans. He also argues that at one stage we would reach a point where the Virtual humans might out crowd the actual humans. This would be because creating virtual humans would need running a piece of code only. This is what he calls the Posthuman stage and we might be what he calls Virtual humans.


He also compares Earth's evolution with Universe's evolution. He mentions that Earth is roughly 3.4bn yrs old whereas the Universe is approximately 13.4bn yrs old. It is likely that in the past some civilisations might already have reached the super-advanced technology levels. In that case, we humans are only part of their simulations. Fascinating isn't it?

1970 Arcade game

1970 Arcade game

Virtual gaming

Virtual gaming

What the Paper Suggests?



According to Nick Bostrom, there are three possibilities of future human existence 1. Humans will become extinct before reaching the Posthuman stage

2. Humanity would reach the Posthuman stage but would not want to run simulations

3. Humanity would reach the Posthuman stage and they would run simulations. Simulations here means a virtual environment created using some lines of codes.

The third possibility is what he focuses on primarily.As per him, there is a 20% chance for the third possibility to happen. If in future we can create our simulations there is a high possibility that we are already part of someone else's simulation.


Why Would Someone Do It

The obvious question here arises is, why would someone want to run the simulations or to create virtual humans in the first place? Bostrom gives three reasons for the same

1. To understand the past and the journey of human existence.

2. To conduct experiments let's say by introducing the Coronavirus in the world and how would the humans react and adapt to it.

3. For entertainment per se just like we play video games for our entertainment.

Supporters Of the Bostrom's Theory



A computer scientist, Rizwan Virk in his book "The Simulation Hypothesis" explains the details of Bostrom's theory in a modern way. He refers to the Post Human stage as "Simulation point". In his explanation, he uses fundamental principle of Quantum physics.


As per Quantum physics, everything can be divided into bits of information. To explain this, he uses the example of a 3D printer which uses bits of information to print 3D objects.


He also lays out the 10 stages of technological development that any civilisation goes through. As per him, currently with virtual reality being an actual thing we are at the 5th stage of technological development.
Very famous Elon Musk, also in one of his interviews supported this argument. He mentioned that there is a high probability that we are living in a simulation.


Conclusion


No one can surely claim that we are living in a simulation or a video game. But one thing is sure, the thought itself of it is very fascinating and scary as well at the same time. Wonder if someday you wake up in the morning and realise that your entire life is fiction, how cool it would be.


Well, don't expect anything to happen anytime sooner since as per Rizwan Virk we are only at the 5th stage of technology evolution. Yet one thing is for sure real and a fact that Hollywood movies are way ahead of their time..Lol!!


Hope you liked this article, do let me know your views in the comments.

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