[ExI] Do We Live in a Simulation? Chances Are about 50–50

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 24 11:37:55 UTC 2020

I remember when this was a favorite topic of the list!

"Gauging whether or not we dwell inside someone else’s computer may come
down to advanced AI research—or measurements at the frontiers of cosmology"

"...Ever since Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford wrote a seminal
paper about the simulation argument in 2003
philosophers, physicists, technologists and, yes, comedians have been
grappling with the idea of our reality being a simulacrum. Some have tried
to identify ways in which we can discern if we are simulated beings. Others
have attempted to calculate the chance of us being virtual entities. Now a
new analysis shows that the odds that we are living in base reality—meaning
an existence that is not simulated—are pretty much even. But the study also
demonstrates that if humans were to ever develop the ability to simulate
conscious beings, the chances would overwhelmingly tilt in favor of us,
too, being virtual denizens inside someone else’s computer. (A caveat to
that conclusion is that there is little agreement about what the term
“consciousness” means, let alone how one might go about simulating it.)

In 2003 Bostrom imagined a technologically adept civilization that
possesses immense computing power and needs a fraction of that power to
simulate new realities with conscious beings in them. Given this scenario,
his simulation argument showed that at least one proposition in the
following trilemma must be true: First, humans almost always go extinct
before reaching the simulation-savvy stage. Second, even if humans make it
to that stage, they are unlikely to be interested in simulating their own
ancestral past. And third, the probability that we are living in a
simulation is close to one."
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