Should we stop turning off the simulation? Credit: CC0 Public Domain.
Since ancient times, many people have suspected that reality is an illusion. Currently, these paranoid ideas have crystallized into the Hypothesis Simulation Hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, we are living in a complex simulation of the universe that someone once caused in some way.
Young philosopher Preston Greene of Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore is right on this wave. These days, the New York Times published its obviously summer commentary in which scientists warn against experimental testing of the Simulation hypothesis. According to Greene, the results of such research will be either boring or extremely dangerous.
Preston Greene. Credit: Nanyang Technological University.
Greene is convinced that when we realize that we are actually living a simulation, there is a risk that we will become unnecessary for the operator of such a simulation. And to save us, they just turn off the simulation. According to Greene, the authors of the ultimate space simulation could proceed similarly to human experts in a double or even three-blind experiment, such as drug and placebo. In this case, neither the experimenters, the measurement staff, and perhaps the evaluators do not know which experimental group it is.
The Simulation Hypothesis saw popular figures, such as Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, and hacker George Hotz. Both expressed the desire to experimentally verify the Simulation hypothesis and either escape the simulation or at least pay attention to it. Greene fears it would be similar to participating in an experiment finding that he is taking or not taking pleasure. If the man does not hold his tongue, they are likely to expel him from such an experiment.
Nanyang University of Technology logo.
In his remark, Greene warns that such a revelation of humanity could cause immediate annihilation of our universe. Simulation creators could restart their project or just shut down and do something else.
As the author of the commentary knows scientists, such threats will not stop them. And it's good. In practice, it is not true that controlling the Simulation hypothesis can only lead to annoyance or annihilation. Between these extremes there are many less or more fun things to do. When scientists come up with such crazy hypotheses, they often unexpectedly come across very practical and useful discoveries.
At the same time it is summer, so we can imagine a much wider possibility of operation of the space simulation than just that it is an ongoing and intensely controlled experiment. The creators of the simulation may have disappeared long ago, they may be in charge of completely different things, not necessarily a scientific experiment, or need to discover the nature of the simulation directly in the experiment. In any case, it is not human nature to refuse the apple of knowledge for threats or vague fears.
Video: Why we're not as lucky as we think: Preston Greene at TEDxNTU
New York time 10 Sep 2019, Futurism 12 August 2019.