Suppose we were to make a perfect computer simulation of our own world (granted, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle prevents this so consider it to be mostly, and not exactly, like our world). The inhabitants are so like us that they do the exact same thing: they, too, make a simulation of their own world thus creating a plethora/infinity of simulated worlds within simulated worlds (Thus they create a simulation, which creates a new simulation and so on). We would have no way of knowing which is real and which is not.

The sheer number of simulations within simulations means there is an extremely high chance we are in a simulated world. Therefore, refraining from creating simulated worlds means we don't open up a plethora of simulated worlds within simulated worlds. Therefore, our odds of being in a simulated world are heavily decreased because the probability of us being in the real world is (our world{1} / no simulated worlds+our own {1+0}).

Of course this implies that if we were to create a simulation of ourselves, turning it off would likely mean that our simulation controller would turn *us *off too therefore deleting our universe.

My question: Are there any flaws in the above reasoning? If not, that's a valid answer too by the way- do tell me if this breaks the rules, I can't say I'm sure.

  • Before the question is closed for being too similar to numerous others on this topic let me ask you this: What is the material difference between "simulation" and "reality"? Why do we want to be real? – christo183 Dec 28 '18 at 14:48
  • i would edit the question into being clearer but i don't want to spoil your fun... i don't think that making something that suggests we are in a simulation is the same as making our world a simulation. is that what you meant, it's currently ambiguous? – confused Dec 28 '18 at 14:49
  • simulation hypothesis wikipedia page unless you mean what i suggested – confused Dec 28 '18 at 14:57
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    Can you explain how we make a video game characters that's self-aware? If you can't, then the premise of your question fails. – user4894 Dec 28 '18 at 18:56
  • Firstly, this is hypothetical technology. And secondly, being in a simulation doesn't mean you are a video game character. – yolo Dec 28 '18 at 20:57

People in the fields of history, archaeology and other human studies frequently need to judge between different theories in order to proceed with their work. Some metrics that distinguish a good theory from a bad theory are:

  • Is it plausible? (I.e. could it happen?)
  • Is it less ad-hoc? (I.e. is it free of extra complications?)
  • Does it have the greatest explanatory scope? (I.e. does it explain many things?)
  • Does it have the greatest explanatory power? (I.e. does it explain things well?)

The situation you described results in two competing theories: first, that our being a simulation is more likely (much more likely) than our not being a simulation, resulting in strange risks such as that we are in danger of disappearing if we unplug computers. The second theory is the ordinary theory, that simulations are simulations and reality is reality and ne'er the twain shall meet.

I think that you have mistaken probability for a good argument in favor of the simulation-simulation theory. Probability is only relevant for theories that are also plausible, and less ad-hoc... and the simulation-simulation theory isn't really plausible (because of the inversion of cause and effect) and it's more ad-hoc than the ordinary theory.


The line of reasoning you're following is essentially the same as Professor Nick Bostrom's notorious "Simulation Theory," and while it's implausible to many, it has successfully convinced people from Elon Musk to the Bank of America.

If we do become able to create fully realistic, immersive simulations, then it will indeed become much harder to justify our belief in the primacy of our own reality, to the same extent that the simulation is convincing. As of now, we still live in a world where there might be some as yet undiscovered reason that we cannot create simulations on the order necessary to duplicate our own world. That wouldn't entirely rule out our being some other reality's simulation, but it would weaken the argument that it's not only possible but likely.

(BTW, I'll soon be starting a book-length series on this very topic on Partially Examined Life.)

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