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A physicist rejects the idea that we live in a sim world

Dartmouth College physicist Marcelo Glazer insists that is the reality we live in Not simulation by advanced aliens or other intelligence – and that the fact that they are is not important. As a summary of his article in IAI News explains,

The idea that we live in a simulation has become commonplace. Elon Musk, for example, believes that we are almost certainly living in a simulation. But the simulation hypothesis runs into intractable problems, and is ultimately an excuse for us not to settle for our real moral failings…

Marcelo GlazerReality is not a simulation and why it matters IAI News (January 4, 2023)

The idea of ​​”mimicking” may seem far-fetched but it’s more common than some might expect. Science broadcaster Neil deGrasse Tyson, driverless car entrepreneur Elon Musk, and former astronomer Royal Martin Rees have all aired the idea. Philosopher of consciousness David Chalmers argues that we cannot prove that we are not living in a simulation.

First, Glazer agrees with Chalmers that, from a philosophical perspective, a simulated universe is not demonstrably wrong. The claim that the average cat has six legs, for example, could easily be falsified—and we don’t need philosophy to do so. But how do we show that Tyson, Musk and Reese are wrong?

Gleiser traces the history of the modern simulated universe to a paper by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, “Do We Live in a Simulation?” (2003) Gleiser sums up the argument: “Bostrom’s point is that if our species survives the transition to a new, posthuman stage, the ‘new us’ will have unimaginable computational powers, and running a realistic simulation would be a given. Of course, for the time being we are going to be like characters in highly advanced Sims, convinced that we have autonomy when, in fact, we are puppets in the hands of the game players.”

Among those looking for intelligent life beyond Earth is also the planetarium hypothesis, where advanced aliens, rather than our descendants, are supposed to be our simulators. in the universe today, Matt Williams notes, To break it down, this hypothesis states that the reason we don’t see aliens is because humanity is in a simulation, and aliens are running it! into the depths of space and we listen.” (August 27, 2020)

Some hope for experiments that will provide evidence for the simulation:

More realistically, physicists have proposed experiments that could yield evidence of a simulation of our world. For example, some have questioned whether the world is inherently “fluid,” or if, on the smallest scale, it might consist of discrete “pieces” a bit like pixels in a digital image. If we decide that the world is “divided” in this way, it may be evidence that it was created artificially. A team of American and German physicists has argued that precise measurements of cosmic rays could provide an answer.

Dan Falk, “Do we live in a simulated world? That’s what scientists say.” in NBC News (July 6, 2019)

Physicist Melvin Fobson suggests looking for glitches in the simulation:

The late physicist John Barrow argued that simulations would introduce minor arithmetic errors that the programmer would need to fix in order for it to continue. He suggested that we might experience such a fix as contradictory experimental results suddenly appearing, such as the variable constants of nature. So monitoring the values ​​of these constants is another option.

Melvin FobsonHow to test if we live in a computer simulation Conversation (November 21, 2022)

Yes, it all seems far-fetched. However, disbelief is not in itself an argument against it. Gleiser offers a more philosophical reason for skepticism: how do we know our simulators aren’t being emulated by previous ones, in an infinite stepping back in time? In theology, God—who is supernatural—is assumed to be the first cause by definition, which prevents this problem. But the proposed non-theistic universe simulation does not have that option. And by the way, in the absence of the first simulator, theorists would have big logical problems with an infinite universe in the past anyway.

Gleiser fears that taking the sim world seriously means abandoning the concept of free will only when we need it:

The simulation argument messes with our self-esteem, assuming that we have no free will, and that we are just dummies deceived into thinking we are independent beings, free to make choices. Thinking this means giving up our sense of autonomy: after all, if it’s all one big game we can’t control, why bother? What difference could my actions or sense of purpose make? “Let the world go to hell as it is now. We can’t change it anyway.

Marcelo GlazerReality is not a simulation and why it matters IAI News (January 4, 2023)

But the embarrassing problem is that we either have free will or we don’t. The hotly debated question does not depend on whether we live in a simple world. After all, we could be cyborg in a casual universe where free will is an illusory concept. Alternatively, we could live in a universe created by a very powerful supernatural being who did not grant us free will. In any of these cases though it is obvious How do we even know about free will.

Free will seems like one of those things we wouldn’t know about if we didn’t have it. This may be one of the strongest arguments against the Sim hypothesis.

You may also like to read: How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?

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