Are We Living in a Simulation?

The question of whether or not our entire existence is based on a virtual reality coming from a civilization with way more computing power than our own is certainly both an interesting one, as well as, almost unfathomable to get your head around.

Simulation Theory 

The theory that everything in our life is computer simulated and being looked at from our ancestors takes thinking deeply to a new level. However, some big name scientific minds think that this theory is entirely possible or even likely. Neil deGrasse Tyson puts the odds at 50-50. SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, put the odds closer to a 1 in Billions chance that we are currently not in a simulation. The man who gets called the “Thomas Jefferson of our generation” believes there is over a 99% chance we only exist on someone else’s hard drive. Assuming this hypothesis is true (a big IF) then one of the following three scenarios is true.

  • We are in a computer simulation
  • Highly evolved civilizations have no interest in making what are essentially video games of their past
  • Something destroys all civilizations before they’re able to advance to the point where they are technologically capable of simulating consciousness

Musk believes that we are in a computer simulation because our society is already creating simulations of everything from Ikea furniture assembly to 3D video games that have increasingly realistic graphics every year.

Not everyone shares his opinion though. This theory is based on an argument where most of the world’s future minds are of artificial intelligence rather than biological. This means that we will have reached a point where our simulations are of augmented reality. This leads into the topic of conversation that artificial intelligence would take over our society. It also would mean that future generations would want to simulate us which is enough for some scientists to think that this theory has zero plausibility.

The simulation theory, along with other existential hypotheses are mostly untestable. David Chalmers, a philosophy professor at NYU, brought up an interesting point that, “You’re not going to get proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence that we get could be simulated.”

Does it really matter?

Personally it doesn’t matter to me whether or not life as we know it is a simulation. If it feels and looks real, then that is good enough to me. Whether or not I am pixels to some greater ancestor I still feel emotion and have logical thoughts. I just find the theory fun to think about when questioning life as a whole and why we exist.


Koebler, Jason. “Elon Musk Says There’s a ‘One in Billions’ Chance Reality Is Not a Simulation.” Motherboard. Motherboard, 2 June 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Moskowitz, Clara. “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?” Scientific American. Scientific American, 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 02 Dec. 2016.

Pictures: Elon Musk


2 thoughts on “Are We Living in a Simulation?

  1. Zachariah Watkins

    This reminds me of the Matrix movies 100%. I have heard that Elon Musk thought that we are all living in a computer simulation but I never thought he believed it that much. Although I must say he is one of my favorite businessmen right now for all he has done regarding putting people on Mars and even Terra forming Mars as well. I know that some people believe Humans are nothing more than a pietri dish to be observed by some highly advanced society which also makes me laugh a little bit. But one question I would pose to you is, if we are in a simulation or a pietri dish then how would we ever prove that? How does an A.I. prove that it is an A.I. (yes I watch Westworld). Here is a pretty cool article that touches on some theories about life on Earth.

    1. William Dever Post author

      The idea that we live in a simulation is certainly a hard one to prove. However, some scientists have come and and said that some experimental evidence would be that our potential programmers might cut corners. Zohreh Davoudi, a physicist at MIT, said, “If there is an underlying simulation of the universe that has the problem of finite computational resources, just as we do, then the laws of physics have to be put on a finite set of points in a finite volume.” This means that in the future we could find evidence from looking at things like the energy from cosmic rays with an unusual disturbance of energy, which would suggest that our space time is not continuous. Certainly, the topic is very interesting to think about at a fundamental level.

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