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According to Professor Nick Bostrom of Oxford University:

...at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

Given the fact that we could potentially be the directors of our own mini-universe, in video games like the Sims how do we know if its inhabitants are self aware? If they aren't currently self aware, at which point would we be able theoretically to say that they could wonder about their own existence?

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Hi Cayetano and welcome to Philosophy. You might be interested in Brian Weatherson's response to the Simulation Argument [PDF]. He directly references The Sims and, I think, answers your question. I'm not sure how constructive the question is, however, since there are just so many factors to consider. One could argue that any instantiation of of an object that has access to it's self reference is self aware. But that's probably not what you mean by the term. –  Jon Ericson Dec 17 '12 at 23:04
    
Hi Jon, I used to do some web design and coding and I would often wonder if by running a PHP script where the object can do something like object->count[X] made it aware or somehow virtually alive during that period when it was running. –  Cayetano Gonçalves Dec 17 '12 at 23:18
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This sentence is self-aware then. –  artm Dec 18 '12 at 7:55
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"Given the fact that we could potentially be the directors of our own mini-universe, in video games like the Sims how do we know if its inhabitants are self aware? If they aren't currently self aware, at which point would we be able theoretically to say that they could wonder about their own existence?"

You first need to define "self aware", and the quality of your Sim. Why could any future civilization not apply a "Turing Test", and a "mirror test", a measure of self-awareness, to a Sim? This question reminds me of the classic "brain in a vat" problem:

Why must the referents of our terms be accessible to us in experience? One cannot, for example, have experience of other people's private states of consciousness; does this imply that one cannot meaningfully ascribe mental states to others? (Wikipedia)

Someone might argue that if there is no empirical evidence to appeal to in order to establish whether we are, or there are, brains in a computer model of the world that can simulate human conscience, then the hypothesis is metaphysical. Many philosophers would maintain that such metaphysical possibilities do not amount to pragmatic cases of doubt: At present, it is physically impossible to make a computer model of the world that can simulate human cognition and replicate the qualitative phenomenology of a human conscience. Nevertheless, one should hesitate before making possibility claims when it comes to future technology. As films like the Matrix and even the Truman Show indicate, the idea of living in a simulated world indistinguishable from the real one is likely to continue to fascinate the human mind.

References
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Wikipedia

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