Are we living in a computer simulation? I don’t know. Probably.

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Javier Zarracina/Vox

Why this computer scientist thinks reality might be a video game.

Are we living in a computer simulation?

The question seems absurd. Yet there are plenty of smart people who are convinced that this is not only possible but perhaps likely.

In an influential paper that laid out the theory, the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom showed that at least one of three possibilities is true: 1) All human-like civilizations in the universe go extinct before they develop the technological capacity to create simulated realities; 2) if any civilizations do reach this phase of technological maturity, none of them will bother to run simulations; or 3) advanced civilizations would have the ability to create many, many simulations, and that means there are far more simulated worlds than non-simulated ones.

We can’t know for sure which of these is the case, Bostrom concludes, but they’re all possible — and the third option might even be the most probable outcome. It’s a difficult argument to wrap your head around, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

Rizwan Virk, a computer scientist and video game designer, published a 2019 book, The Simulation Hypothesis,



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