Are We Living In a Simulation?

Elon Musk thinks it’s almost certain that we live in a computer simulation. According to him, “there is a one in billions chance that this world is base reality.”, and humans are basically some advanced version of The Sims.

His argument goes like this: 40 years ago we had simple simulations like Pong, like two rectangles and a dot. Later, we got The Sims. Now, we have realistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s still getting better every year.

So let’s go far into the future. It’s possible that when we get there, civilization will be entirely gone because there is a ceiling to our advancement. Maybe it’s because of global warming – or self-replicating robots. If civilization stops advancing, that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilization.

But another possibility is that if we keep advancing – and assuming everything in the physical world can be simulated – eventually, we’ll simulate ourselves. Every synapse in the entire human brain, for everyone on earth. Some simulations could start creating their own simulations. In this scenario, there are billions of universes that are indistinguishable from our own. That means that chances are that we are in a simulation.



Musk thinks that we should hope to be in a simulation, because either we’re going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will cease to exist. Those are the two options.

But actually, there are other possibilities. Maybe future humans just don’t want to run ancestor simulations due to ethical reasons. Or maybe they simply can’t do so, because even if technology advances at the same rate as it does now, it would be by far too complex to fully simulate a world like ours.

We will never know for sure whether we live in a simulation or not. However, thinking about this raises new questions that might be worthwhile to ponder about.

If we simulate life, does it actually live? Or is it still just calculations in a computer? What separates our brains from mere biological computers?


Student of computer science and economics. I like coding, AI, literature, philosophy and personal development.

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