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Home > Introduction > Possible Futures > Extropianism > Simulation Argument

Last Updated: Wednesday, 02-May-2012 22:16:54 PDT

Simulation Argument

Simulation Argument - Sometimes referred to as "The Simulation Argument"

The Simulation Argument, in part, postulates that it is possible (or even likely) that we are living in a computer simluation created by our ancestors. It seems reasonable that we may even be those ancestors, ourselves. Perhaps running individual simulations, on and about ourselves. Maybe even living out a fantasy of our own creation, but not allowing ourselves to be aware of the sim as it is enacted. Be a pity to think each of us are just the creation of a very powerful computer sim that is not of our control or making. If the hypothesis is true, I'd rather think that we are part of a larger sim - one in which we are the initiating agency.


The definitive work is located here: Are You Living In a Computer Simulation? Dr. Nick Bostrom, Department of Philosophy, Yale University. (Original version: May, 2001; Revised: November, 2001)

"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."

"Films like The Matrix and novels like Greg Egan's Permutation City have explored the idea that we might be living in virtual reality. But what evidence is there for or against this hypothesis? And what are the implications? The original paper featured here, Are You Living in Computer Simulation? presents a striking argument showing that we should take the simulation-hypothesis seriously indeed, and that if we deny it then we are committed to suprising predictions about the future possibilities for our species." Dr. Nick Bostrom


God Is the Machine
Wired December 2002 By Kevin Kelly. "At today's rates of compression, you could download the entire 3 billion digits of your DNA onto about four CDs. That 3-gigabyte genome sequence represents the prime coding information of a human body your life as numbers. Biology, that pulsating mass of plant and animal flesh, is conceived by science today as an information process. As computers keep shrinking, we can imagine our complex bodies being numerically condensed to the size of two tiny cells. These micro-memory devices are called the egg and sperm. They are packed with information."

Another perspective: "If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happier and more interested in you." How To Live In A Simulation by Robin Hanson.


The following are fictional accounts of Simulation-scenarios

Permutation City. Greg Egan (1995)

The Matrix (The Shooting Script). . By William Gibson. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski (1999)

The Thirteenth Floor. Directed by Joseph Rusnak (1999)


Arguments for and against, and some divergent speculative thinking: Are We Living in a Simulation? More


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