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Life In a Matrix

February 15, 2012

Much more than with the movie The Matrix, Nick Bostrom has us question and rethink our entire existence with his essay, “Are You In a Computer Simulation?” Bostrom compares our lives to computer simulations with an advanced civilization in charge of programming. He calls his hypothesis the simulation argument. Basically, the premise is that the majority of us are living in a non-reality world.

Joe Pantoliano, Laurence Fishburne, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix, 1999.

The fact that Bostrom developed a simulation argument open for discussion may very well work against itself. If Bostrom had the money, the technology, the skills and the human brains needed, I am sure he would, at least, be tempted to begin conducting experiments. Is this something that the programmers would be okay with? Would our programmers want us to know? Bostrom’s hypothesis can only be true if the programmers intend to reveal themselves. Perhaps, the programmers intend on destroying us once they are identified. This can be compared to “going extinct before becoming technologically mature,” to use Bostrom’s words

What point would there be to a computer simulated world where there is so much chaos?

Nothing is perfect, and this includes technology. As we know it, technology always fails at one point or another. It would probably not be any different with simulated minds that propel simulated existences. Would the world of computer simulated minds be a perfect system? If not, wouldn’t we witness each other “crash” or have to be “rebooted” at some point or another?

Film still from the film The Matrix, 1999.

According to iDictionary, one particular definition for reality which stands out for me is “physical existence.” If we could somehow prove that we physically exist, does that prove that we are, in fact, real? Do feelings and emotions make us real? What about flesh and blood? It is challenging for me to think of a simulated existence when thinking about a woman in labor. Would the baby’s brain be organic or simulated?

I think it is highly improbable that we are living in computer simulated world. If not, can someone please hit the reset button? It feels like I ask more than what I conclude.


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