by Shelly Fagan
September 22, 2019

from Medium Website

Photo by Sabine Peters on Unsplash



If reality is a computer simulation, how does that work?

In 2003, Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrum proposed that the universe may be a simulated reality - an enormous game of Sims.


This virtual universe may have been created by our future generations who wanted to time travel to the past but eliminate the inherent paradoxes.


In this scenario, you could kill your great grandfather and not destroy your own chance to be born.

Bostrum suggested that if a civilization developed advanced technology that could create such a virtual world, the inhabitants would probably create multiple copies.

If our descendants managed to achieve this, Bostrum argued, then the odds were that you are one of many copies living in a simulation rather than the base reality.


Statistically speaking, if there are 10,000 simulated universes where copies of you exist, the chances of your consciousness being the original would be 1 in 10,000.

In other words, if copies were made, and the odds are you are not the original.




A Universal Web of Simulated Realities

Think of it as a vast Internet where each individual page represents one possible reality simulating the past. Or, this world may have been designed based on nothing more than someone's imagination.

Infinite universes may exist where every possible choice can play out. Your consciousness may be experiencing an existence like a choose-your-own-adventure book.

Another possibility may be that we are willing participants, opting to immerse ourselves in the experience by forgetting our true nature. We may suspend our understanding of reality to accept a limited view of the universe.

It should be noted that some other scientists reject this theory.




Do We Have Free Will?

The ancestor simulation hypothesis falls apart when it comes to consciousness.


If we are merely props in our descendant's playground, and our actions are predetermined, then there is no need for us to have free will. It would serve no purpose to grant the inhabitants any sort of agency if they are not free to make choices.


It would require vast amounts of computing power for an unusable feature - and one that would likely disrupt the simulation.

The exception would be if consciousness was granted to those intended to experience the simulated reality and the main character had limited free will.

In other words, this universe was designed for your experience alone and therefore, only you are conscious inside your virtual world.

You have some ability to make decisions and move about with some limitations...




If We are Living in a Giant Computer Game, what would that Look Like?



A simulated reality might function something like the above image.


Your consciousness exists in a vast sea of potential. It would be much like an individual sitting in a living room deciding to play a game.

Your consciousness has any number of adventures to choose from, and many possible experiences. Until a game is chosen, it is only a "potential" reality, just like a book on your bookshelf has the potential to be read. It exists much like a wave form.


As we experience it inside the simulation, it becomes "particle-like" and "real." Our physical form is like our avatar inside the game.


We have freedom of movement if we hit the major checkpoints such as,

marriage, career, children, etc.,

...much like a video game requires players reach certain locations or achieve goals before moving forward.


We are limited by the constraints of the adventure, we cannot defy the built-in laws.

While others share the same construct, they are non-player characters in your game, you are an NPC in their experience. Your universe was designed for you, only you are conscious in your reality, but everyone's adventure plays out in the shared space.

Our stories may overlap, but they are independent, separate, and distinct.

Reality is purely subjective to each player.


Our mind is where our reality is created.


We simulate the physical world inside our brains using our perception of the world.

The only difference is that in this reality, we are conscious (or we have simulated consciousness) and we are unaware we are in a simulation or the vast expanse of potential.

Even if everything is simulation, the world "out there" seems real to us (read below article)...





What is "Real"?
by Shelly Fagan
September 11, 2019
Medium Website



Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

You are out of touch with what is reality.

We think everything we experience is "real." We believe something exists when we can touch or see it like nature, technology, and other people.


In this view, reality is shared. It is an environment we move through which is separate and distinct from us. Experiences which have the potential to change our definition of reality must be validated by others.


If we see a flaming meteor streaking across the night sky, invariably we will turn to others and ask,

"Did you see that...?"

Not only are we calling attention to something unusual, but we want outside verification of what we experienced.

Can someone else validate our reality, please?



Objective Reality



Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

If others agree with our view, that consensus makes it fact.

"Yes, I saw that flaming rock flying overhead," therefore, it happened, and it is real.

If enough people agree, it becomes unassailable truth.

Facts are what is meant by "objective" reality. It means something exists independent of our opinions on the matter. It is unbiased and not subject to interpretation. It just is.

This causes a great deal of problems when not everyone agrees.



Reality and Religion



Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

If everyone in the town believes the meteor is a sign of God's favor, then we accept that as true.


It moves from a subjective belief based on faith and becomes our objective reality. We don't acknowledge the possibility for error or allow for ambiguity.

We "know" we have the ultimate truth. We remain steadfast in our position that we are right because everyone else agrees.

One lone voice says it is a space rock from the outer edges of the solar system and has nothing to do with God or signs from the heavens.


Their scientific view will be labeled dangerous, kooky, and ultimately, they will be silenced. Usually, this comes in extreme forms of censure or even death.

This dynamic occurs not because the scientist is wrong, but because they went against the popular view of the world.



Reality is a Numbers Game



Photo by Paul Bergmeir on Unsplash

There is power in numbers, even if everyone is wrong.

If you side with the scientist, you risk being labeled mentally ill, incarcerated and forcibly medicated. This diagnosis may result in all sorts of problems for an individual to move through society.


Popular opinion has the power to destroy your future. Ironically, it might be said one would have to be crazy to speak up considering the potential consequences.

As one example, many philosophers reject the notion of solipsism, that is the belief that one cannot know anything outside one's own mind.


Basically, the assertion is that reality is wholly subjective and therefore, nothing matters.

Metaphysical solipsism is the idea that everything outside of the self is an illusion, and that reality exists only for the individual. The trouble with this notion is that some believe this excuses people from ethical behavior, ignoring the possibility that we may personally benefit from our good actions toward others.


In turn, this opens the door to moral relativism as one's experience is the only thing that is real.

Because of this, the philosophy is largely rejected in academic circles. It is often ridiculed.

Mental health professionals view this sort of personal philosophy as a pathology, calling it "Solipsism Syndrome" - although it is not yet officially recognized as a disorder.

In the future, your belief that you cannot know anything to be real outside yourself, and that your observation is the only objective reality, could result in you being labeled mentally ill.


You risk losing your rights to move freely in society, to hold certain jobs, or to live without being forcibly medicated.



Life Does Not Happen to You



Photo by Monica Silva on Unsplash

Despite what philosophers and psychologists say, your reality is unique to you and your perception is purely subjective.


We don't acknowledge that another's perception might be different than our own because it challenges our consensus-building view of the universe.

Reality isn't a shared external environment you are moving through along with everyone else, but this is how we expect it to work.

According to the MIT Technology Review, an experiment by physicists from Heriot-Watt University demonstrated two people can observe the same event and see two different things happen.


Both observers would be correct.

While some will argue phenomenon at the quantum level is largely irrelevant to the operation of day-to-day existence, it demonstrates how we selectively choose what information we incorporate into our version of reality.

We don't reject it because we feel it is invalid, but because it challenges our reality and requires that we reexamine our worldview. It is easier to accept our erroneous views than to make allowances for an evolving reality.



You Do Not Recognize Your View of Reality is Wrong



Photo by Stella Jacob on Unsplash

According to George Mobus, Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington, the answer is simple.


In his paper, A Theory of Sapience: Using Systems Science to Understand the Nature of Wisdom and the Mind, he demonstrates that most people frequently do not even recognize their own mistakes, let alone be able to learn from them.

Whether you acknowledge your flawed perceptions or not, what you experience is unique to you. It evolves over your life and it will die at your death.


Others don't agree with your view of the universe because they perceive a separate reality. Someone else may experience something completely different. Both can be correct and still not reach an agreement regarding what is real.


Yet both will argue when challenged because they need assurances that they are right.

While you and others may share many of the elements of your reality, this does not make your view of the universe objective. It simply means you agree in your subjective view of the world.