anthropomorphic figures

Scientist reveals how to escape our simulationMatthias Kulka – Getty Images

  • For two decades, scientists have given serious thought to whether we live in a simulated universe.

  • A computer scientist at the University of Louisville is studying ways humans might attempt to hack out of this reality and enter the base reality.

  • So far, the techniques of all world religions and the immense complexity of the Large Hadron Collider seem to have no impact on our theoretically simulated reality.

The red pill or the blue pill—the famous question that frames the whole of The Matrix. In the 1999 film, a surprisingly feisty Neo takes the red pill and decides to “see how far down the rabbit hole goes.” The moment is one of the most iconic scenes in science fiction history, but it also explores a relevant philosophical question: if reality is a simulation, can humans choose to leave it?

The computer scientist Roman Yampolskiy from the University of Louisville investigates this question in a detailed contribution outline how we might be able to hack our way out of our simulated existence.

The idea that humans might be living in a simulation is amazingly old. French philosopher René Descartes tossed the idea around as early as the 17th century, but the idea really took hold of the scientific community when Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom wrote an influential article on the possibility a simulated reality in 2003. Bostrom estimated the probability that we live in a sophisticated alien computer at about 20 percent.

Yampolskiy continues this tradition of exploring the limits of a possible simulation and specifically looking for ways to escape it. Yampolskiy pulls examples from real-world examples of hacks, exploits in video games, as well as more philosophical digressions about trying to communicate with our simulator overlords using an avatar.

Yampolskiy also includes a compendium of escape plans theorized by other thinkers, including “creating an incalculable paradox” or emphasizing the computational power of the simulation, e.g. B. Millions of people meditating at the same time and then suddenly becoming very active.

The article acknowledges that there is some compelling evidence that could potentially harm the idea of ​​escaping simulation — or if simulation even exists. For example, knowledge of the simulation itself does not appear to affect its existence, nor do religions, all responsive to an external simulator, have any measurable effect or intervention (previous researchers have proposed this very idea). Also, running incredibly complex machines that produce amazing results, like the Large Hadron Collider, doesn’t seem to affect any kind of simulation.

Of course the question arises Why would humans want to leave the simulation – eventually Neos Experience leaving the Matrix wasn’t very pleasant. Yampolskiy argues that access to base reality could improve our computational abilities and give us access to “real” knowledge rather than the simulated physics of our known universe. The consequences of such an escape plan are also unknown.

Yampolskiy acknowledges that such investigations come with existential risks, and even posits the possibility that simulators have restarted simulation with improved safety features, effectively erasing our collective memory.

Whether we live in a simulation is probably impossible. For now we have to stick with the blue pill.

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