Is the World a Computer Simulation?

Believe it or not, there was a scholarly paper published on this very subject nearly a decade ago by a Dr. Nick Bostrom.  In it, the author lays out statistical reasons that would indicate that it is somewhat probable that the world we inhabit is a computer simulation.  This would seem to make sense on a number of levels, both scientifically and philosophically.   For instance, the faster-than-light connections that are exhibited between pair-coupled particles (which Einstein referred to as "spooky") would be explicable if the Universe was a holographic simulation.

From a moral sense, how to explain the cruelty and arbitrariness we witness in the world?  How can an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Infinitely loving and compassionate God exist in a world where we number our global wars?   And children are stricken with cancer, AIDS, Hodgkin's disease and are killed in droves by accidents, both man-made and naturally-occurring.  How can this be justified?  If we are indeed a computer simulation, then the pain we suffer is artificial and perhaps we (by we I mean humanity in a collective sense) are being used as simulucra to solve some problem.  Time may drag by for us, but to the designer of the simulation who is looking to solve the problem our entire history (until problem solution when the simulation ends) might pass by in just a few CPU clock ticks.   

If the world is a simulation by aliens, then we have yet another possible explanation for the apparent cruelty of the world.  These aliens might just be letting the computer run its own simulations of every possible biosphere given a particular set of physical laws.  They may have absolutely no emotions and have no idea about the concept of suffering.  Or, they are not mammals and have a completely different or limited set of emotions.  Our struggles may mean no more to them than the struggles of ants living in our back yards do to us.

For more information please see this excellent paper by Dr. Nick Bostrom:

Abstract Excerpt from above link:

This paper argues that 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. It follows that the transhumanist dogma that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

I urge readers to check out this paper - it is brilliant, fascinating and thought-provoking.

The Simulation-Argument FAQ, by Dr. Nick Bostrom: