Mapping the world's opinions

argument top image

Are we living in a simulation? Show more Show less

Ever since The Matrix was released in 1999, many have questioned the parameters of the world we know and experience. Though the movie was a worldwide phenomenon that sparked up this debate, the philosophical underpinnings and implications of this potential reality give it new meaning in a modern, technologically advanced world where everything seems possible.

Yes, we are living in a simulation. Show more Show less

Many observers of this "Matrix" claim believe this phenomenon actually exists, and that our reality is simply a simulated, technologically fabricated universe. As humans, we merely experience the world as it was meant to be, unaware of the reality outside our reach.
< Previous (2 of 3 Positions) Next >

Many prominent physicists and scientific theorists are seriously considering testing for evidence.

The scientific community, in tandem with the philosophical community, has begun looking into the possibility of testing the simulation theory in the world. This confirms the potential legitimacy of the theory and why it should be seriously considered within mainstream scientific study.
< Previous (2 of 2 Arguments) Next >

Context

The Argument

Nick Bostrom and Rizwan Virk (leading scientific and philosophic voices behind the idea that humans live in a simulation) both provide compelling arguments for their colleagues not to dismiss the simulation theory entirely. “If we are living in a simulation, then the cosmos that we are observing is just a tiny piece of the totality of physical existence,” Bostrom observes in a 2003 paper.[1] A NASA scientist, Rich Terrile, also welcomes this idea, but states that there is a possibility of humans being simulated by a higher being of technological superiority, even ourselves in the distant future. Terrile readily accepts the theory's parallels with the Book of Genesis in the Bible, unbothered by the religious undertones and connotations within the idea. The simulation theory essentially dictates that a force out of our immediate manipulation or control is turning the cogs of reality, and we exist within an artificially created cyber-network. Though variations within the theory emerge, the basic principle that humans do not live in the reality as we know it is consistent throughout its recent prominence in philosophical and scientific theory. To some, the theory is so compelling that scientists and researchers are close to testing it in the field. They claim they would need to discover if the universe on the smallest scale was "smooth" or "pixelated", possibly finding evidence for an artificially created reality through the measurement of cosmic rays.[2] The theory's credibility and possibility are gaining traction as more and more of the scientific community takes notice.

Counter arguments

Physicist Lisa Randall heartily rejects the idea that the simulation theory could ever be real. Randall, and many scientists like her, believe that the whole purpose of science is to build upon what we already know from the physical laws of the universe, which this particular theory does not.[3] Casting aside all that we know to play into The Matrix and the purely hypothetical idea that everything we do is controlled by other beings completely wipes away any of our prior knowledge about how reality and space-time works. Additionally, simply because some scientists say that the theory could possibly be true does not equate to widespread scientific consensus at any level. To make the long jump from scientists looking to test a hypothesis out in the field to the actuality and truth in the theory is entirely illogical and contrary to the scientific method.

Framing

Premises

[P1] A philosophical or scientific theory can be seen as credible, even possible, if the scientific community takes it seriously enough to conduct fieldwork and experiments to test the hypothesis. [P2] Prominent scientists and philosophers believe the simulation theory to possess serious credibility - enough to collect data and research to test the hypothesis and confirm the potentiality of its implications in the world. [P3] Therefore, it is possible that we live in a simulation.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Conducting fieldwork on a hypothesis does not automatically make that theory credible or real. It is simply a starting point to the long and arduous scientific process. [Rejecting P2] Very few scientists believe this theory to be remotely a possibility within the universe, and the fact that they want to conduct experiments about it does not equate to its legitimacy. [Rejecting P3] The previous premises do not lead to the possibility of the simulation theory.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/are-we-living-simulated-universe-here-s-what-scientists-say-ncna1026916
  3. https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/podcasts/2016-isaac-asimov-memorial-debate-is-the-universe-a-simulation

Explore related arguments

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 27 May 2020 at 04:30 UTC