If you’re a fan of Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, you might know that he believes we’re living in a computer simulation. In fact, many scientists have different theories about it. Even some famous science fiction movies revolve around this speculation (like The Matrix). So are humans basically some advanced version of The Sims? Or is it all mere theories than can be ignored?
Hundreds of years ago, people used to think that the entire universe revolved around planet Earth. An ancient Greek astronomer named Aristarchus of Samos proposed the idea that the sun is in fact at the center of our system, not the Earth. People thought he was crazy at the time and they dismissed his theory, until it was proved correct almost two thousand years later by Galileo Galilei. This means that when someone challenges our perception of reality, they might actually be right no matter how crazy they seem.
One of the arguments supporting that our life is a simulation is that 40 years ago, computers were very basic and could only do limited stuff. Nowadays we have realistic 3-D simulation games where millions of people could be playing simultaneously, and it’s always getting better and better. At this rate, computer games might eventually become indistinguishable from reality. So what’s to stop us from saying that some civilization before us got his advanced, and now we’re just living in one of their simulations?
Scientists are also trying to find actual proof of a simulated environment. Since our universe is governed by mathematical and physical laws with some arbitrary constants (like the speed of light, the amount of gravity on Earth…), couldn’t a powerful computer simulate it exactly as it is? To find out whether our universe is actually a simulation or not, scientists started looking for glitches in the system. For example, they are looking for shifts in the constants governing nature. However, even if scientists succeed in finding such shifts, it wouldn’t prove we’re living in a simulation. There could be many explanations to their findings. Their findings would just be the first step on a long road.
So far, there’s no proof that our lives are simulated. It might not even be possible to prove whether the universe is or isn’t a simulation. Nevertheless, we’ll always be pushing science and technology forwards in pursuit of the truth. Hopefully, one day, we’ll be able to demystify our own existence.