If real life in 2022 seems like just too much, take comfort in some breaking news: scientists say odds are even that we’re living in a simulation. The coin flip depends a great deal on science we may uncover in the near future, they say.
The 50/50 probability is rounded from a calculation whose outcome is more like 50.22222 to 49.77778. Scientific American cites the landmark 2003 paper “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?” by philosopher Nick Bostrom. It’s worth reading Bostrom’s brief abstract in full:
“I argue that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to become extinct before reaching a ‘posthuman’ stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we shall one day become posthumans who run ancestor‐simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. I discuss some consequences of this result.”
Scientific American points out that The Matrix and its sequels did a lot to push the simulation theory forward, but philosophers have speculated in this direction for thousands of years. There are also many theories that flirt with simulation in the guise of radical solipsism and skepticism.