Okay, I’m about to delve into some areas that truly show my inner geek. Just as a listing of my “geek cred”, so that you know my credentials are in order to discuss this, I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was six years old, I have been using Linux since the first version of Debian, have contributed to MANY open source projects, have a library of computer applications I’ve written, as well as a tool for the video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” called the “Torvus Batch Script Builder,” as well as a program called “TrickPuppet” which is related to Torvus. My primary laptop runs a variant of Unix, the latest Debian Linux and Windows 10. I am a computer scientist as a passion, hobby and (sometimes) profession. So, believe me when I say that my credentials are in order.
On to the meat…
So, lately I have been doing nothing but thinking. I’ve been isolating myself from a lot of people and only going to work, and hanging with my family on occasion. The rest of the time however, I’m sitting or lying down, with a book in my hand thinking. I’m not even reading, so much as using the book as a shield to let everyone else know that I’m not to be disturbed.
I’ve been thinking about some anomalies I’ve been witnessing and some things that don’t quite make sense to me.
A shared memory, remembered in diametrically opposed ways that have nothing to do with opinion or perspective, for example.
Or, being a friend of a family that no one in my family seems to remember, though we shared a lot of holidays and things.
And then there’s the Berenstien bears thing.
Things that I REMEMBER happening that no one else seems to remember, even though in two cases they were right beside me.
It’s almost as if the “unperson” principle from the novel “1984” is a real thing, and no one chooses to remember the unperson. Except they legitimately don’t. But, I do. I remember everything. So, I have three theories.
1. Either my memory is faulted somehow.
2. Their memory is faulted somehow.
3. There is a glitch in the simulation we’re all living in.
I used to offer the third option facetiously, “knowing” that that couldn’t be the case. Then I read an article by Scientific American. Having read it from beginning to end four times before committing it to memory (not even kidding.) I then scoured the internet for any evidence that this wasn’t the case. I couldn’t find any evidence or theory that couldn’t be explained by the simulation hypothesis.
Are we actually here? Is what I’m seeing a manifestation of what actually exists? Or, is it the wandering byproduct of electronic stimuli?
Whether humanity exists as a physical entity, unconscious and dormant (as in the Matrix,) hooked up to a mass illusion is just as likely as existing, conscious and moving, in a finite space that is illusory.
Then of course, there’s the idea that we’re not even here at all. Our bodies (ala Matrix Batteries) doesn’t physically exist. With the idea that a computer program could achieve sentience lies the logical axiom that portions or objects within a computer program could achieve the same level of sentience. We could all be if/then/else loops in a giant simulacrum.
Then again, the rest of the world might not even exist. There might be only me. The rest of the “world” responding to my actions, as if I’m the player character in a video game and the rest of the game world responds according to the programming. I could be the lone AI entity in the game, or someone could be controlling me. Granted, at times everyone has felt the motions of their lives taking on a life of their own, and I often wonder if there isn’t a more advanced mind controlling my own. (By the way, this is a thought experiment, I’m not THAT much of a sociopath to think I’m the only one that exists in this world. Though, on occasion my wife would tell you otherwise.)
Having said all of this, let’s take it one step further. Let’s accept for the moment that the “simulation theory” is fact. We are all entities and objects within the system. The system had to have a creator. Would that creator be “God”? Myself? I’m not inclined to think so. I write programs all the time and not once have I ever thought that I was anything godlike.
Then again, an intelligence so advanced that coded everything you see, then designed a machine (general purpose or not) to run this simulation would have to seem as Gods, or some kind of advanced being. As Arthur C. Clarke would put it, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The massive amount of computing power needed to create such a complex illusion would make our currently existing technology seem as the weapons that stone-age men would hunt with in comparison.
The issue of morality seems to be a bit more interesting within this theory, as well. In that instance, does morality exist? Is morality revealed to be simply a construct of a false digital society? Or, since even we entities within the system have a consciousness and sentience, does that make the concept of morality a bit less subjective and perhaps even that much more precious? What is the value of gold when gold has been proven to be a superficially digital construct? Were the “simulation hypothesis” proven true, or accepted to be true, would that cause a redefinition of the concept of “goodness” since within the simulated bloodshed of humanity, the only thing that would be lost are a few electrical configurations?
Could the proving of such a hypothesis warn us about how precious we are? We, being mere configurations of electrical switches and diodes in a super-massive dream machine? Or are we just another permutation of binary amidst the endless world of electrical impulses?
To think that this all started with an article my wife sent me. Damn it.