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The Problems with the Computer Simulation Theory and the Eternal Void

Updated: Jul 13

A beautbeautiful lady

A Skeptical Look at the Simulated Universe Theory

I do not understand how uncertainty about the origin of life can lead to the conclusion that we are living in a computer simulation. The existence of a simulation presupposes a creator, and that creator's origins would be equally as puzzling.

Who would simulate an entire universe of planets and species? Why would they do so? These answers remain unanswered beyond our attempt to determine the existence of gods. And even then, the existence of one or more gods does not mean that we live in a virtual simulation.

Moreover, computer simulations are not solely created out of nothing; they often involve significant investment of time, resources, and expertise. And yet, even if we are to have the "how", the technicalities, we still lack the "why". Even if we'll have the science, we may lack the philosophy.

If our universe is a simulation, who stands to profit from it? The financial motivations behind most simulations raise further questions. If entities external to our universe are profiting from this simulation, who are their customers?

What form do these customers take within the simulation, and what is their role? After all, a product is there not only for its producers, but also for its audience of consumers. If we are a virtual product, we must have been created for the sake of these two parties. But we don't even have any ways to know who are the members of these two parties. Can we truly be sure of something we can't both reason its purpose and infrastructure?

It seems unlikely that they would be humans or animals, as we possess self-awareness that is not characteristic of non-player characters. They may be code-driven objects without self-awareness, similar to contemporary artificial intelligence. And yes, AI does not have it yet.

Regarding the "customer" party whose simulation is here for -- Why would anyone choose to inhabit a rock within a reality of endless possibilities? Why would they enjoy contemporary life if contemporary life can easily be boring? And if the customers are not really players, why does this reality exist at all? Surely an unprofitable simulation would have been shut down long ago.

It's important to remember that the simulation hypothesis remains unproven. There is no scientific evidence to support it, and its validity is ultimately a matter of individual belief. Like any hypothesis, it could be right or wrong.

The financial aspect of simulations casts doubt on the simulation hypothesis. Perhaps the answers lie beyond the realm of profit and entertainment, in motivations we cannot yet comprehend. But the very irony in all of this is that we ourselves may create or participate in stimulations just to refresh our own experience and escape from reality. It's one of the main points of many games -- doing things we are incapable of doing in real life.

Either way, if we, the "virtual agents"/"NPCs" of this universe, create simulations within this simulations, perhaps there is something faulty within this simulation. It isn't exactly profitable when your own virtual agents dislike the simulation they are in, and seek to escape from it so much.

Trapped in the Game: Debunking the Player Hypothesis in the Simulation Theory

If we reject the notion that we're just NPCs stuck in a grand cosmic videogame, does that automatically make us the players ourselves? While the allure of being the masters of our own digital destiny is tempting, closer examination reveals a dissonance between this hypothesis and the reality we experience. Unlike true players, we lack any evidence of an external life beyond the boundaries of this simulated world.

Because if you're trapped inside a virtual reality, you might as well know you are, by having recollections of a reality beyond this "virtual prison" called "real life".

While even the most dedicated gamer can step away for a sandwich and social interaction, our existence here seems absolute, with death the only potential escape hatch. And even then, the escape that's death is one that goes through a metaphorical sphere of unknown darkness. Moreover, our needs, desires, and motivations seem to arise solely from within this reality. A passionate gamer playing for days still yearns for food and social interaction outside the virtual world. Conversely, we find no such hunger for an existence beyond our own.

The lack of a clear separation between player and their character further weakens the hypothesis. Unlike the controlled avatars in "The Sims," we face no divine puppet-master dictating our every move (unless we cancel out the idea of having free will).

Our choices, fueled by internal or external influences, shape our paths. An external entity pulling the strings could simply eject or "ban" us from the simulation without needing an in-game reason – but people don't just vanish into the void.

Furthermore, our reality presents several differences from a typical game/simulation:

  • No lag: Time marches on relentlessly, free from frustrating network delays and server crashes. In games where there are several computers, the lag also depends on the computer's processing power. But we don't have that issue in real life, do we? Jet lag, fortunately, fails to be the time-manipulating force a virtual lag is.

  • No save/load: Reloading from an earlier point or quitting simply isn't an option (unless you subscribe to the debatable concept of reincarnation).

  • No password required: We don't need a login to access our own lives.

  • No character creation: Our physical forms are shaped by biological processes beyond our control – no selecting pre-made avatars or tweaking stats here. Self-development and character creation is not the same even in video games (which can be translated to a "level up")

  • No fourth-wall breaking: No amount of meta-commentary will alter the game's rules or influence other players to the point of making them aware of a "fourth wall", when there isn't exactly one visible to our eyes.

  • No hacking: Infiltrating another person's mind with godlike control remains science fiction. Although you might be able to, in the future, using brain-machine interface, you wouldn't be able to turn the whole planet to cheese by hacking into a metaphysical code.

  • No cheat codes: Instant wealth or bending time to your will exist only in fantasy (or, you know, in games). While we may speak of "killing time," it's merely a subjective term within our perceived pace of life. We lack the ability to pause or rewind.

Ultimately, the "player hypothesis" crumbles under closer scrutiny. Our lack of external lives, the absence of game mechanics like saving and loading, and the inherent autonomy of our choices paint a picture far removed from the controlled environment of a typical video game. While the simulation hypothesis itself remains a matter of open debate, the idea that we, the seemingly trapped pawns, are somehow also the puppeteers pulling the strings simply doesn't hold water.

Beyond the Game: Rethinking Reality

Even if we entertain the notion of a simulated reality, a more fundamental question arises: Why do we need to be in a simulation at all? Could our own reality be the simulating entity, the one that generates other simulated, "subjective realities" within it?

In the face of such existential questions, the void emerges as a constant presence. It doesn't go away, but stays permanently whether or not it had an origin like anything else non-void. It remains with its three expressions of space, seclusion and silence, the ultimate backdrop that exists for certainty, whether or not anything exists or ceases to exist.

Perhaps the answer lies beyond the confines of our simulated understanding. Perhaps the only constant is the void, the ever-present emptiness that both birthed and will outlast all metaphysical theories, and all being and things. The void doesn't disappear, making it, technically, a "something".

And in virtual simulations, as in real life, everything is data. That includes void as well, given that it is also a "something". In a stimulation, every possible interaction is stored. And voids are the ones that allow these interactions in the first place (like the ability to move in an empty room, the fact that being alone is occasionally an inevitable possibility, and so on).

To quote Paul Richmond from Quora, as a summary:

"Multiple bits would be required to track any single bit used to describe our universe. As our universe may be infinite, only an infinite computer would be up to the job in that case. If our universe is finite, clearly the tracking computer would have to be so great as to appear infinite to our minds"

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback

Wouldn’t life in a simulation make everything more understandable? There is just one major reason why we aren’t: All simulators have restart options. So we are living in one with no reset which only gives us one life to live. Your right to ponder why this doesn’t make any sense.
Point in case if this were a simulator there would be no organic material in it. Either that or they make 3d printing very realistic in the future. I also don’t see why individuals in a simulator would be required to have lungs and need oxygen to breathe. So I’m not going to go with a simulator. I’m going to go with a creator giving us a very nice cage to play in. Don’t know how else you would describe earth. 
I also have one fundamental problem with a simulator theory. It would imply life is a game.
You want to know who the customers are if this is a simulator? Look into betting if you want a financial motive. Who says we aren’t in a simulator but were still given free will and other species are betting on what will happen. Imagine watching all of humanity on a tv you could flip through. Individuals will be on anything. What if humanity was just someone’s joke? Lets give these apes intelligence and free will and see what happens!
If this is a simulator I want to know who supplies the gear for it. Some ungodly level of processing power and video graphics.
What if we are in a giant game of risk? Can governments not make us move when they want us to? The sim theory is definitely nonsensical as what would the purpose of law and order be? Think I could use the simulator defense to try and get away with murder?
Have you ever seen the movie Inception? Simulator in a simulator would kind of be like that. Maybe the matrix was right about people needing to wake up. What if the simulation is nothing more than the cognitive reality which is created by our overlords? Those people who are trying to keep civilization together, so they do so by putting as many people as possible into one frame of mind. 
Who says a simulator can’t be created which allows free will? It would just be a setting option. It would be like putting pets into a cage and expecting them to do what you want them to. No, the most you can do is put the toys in there in hopes they will play with them (aka the Earth). Could the purpose of life be to settle as much of the universe as possible? Just need to evolve to the point of being able to do so...

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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