Below are theories and statements about why reality might be a simulation:
Nick Bostrom is an Oxford professor with a background in physics, computational neuroscience, and mathematical logic as well as philosophy. He authored a paper in 2003 asking the question, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?
The publication Mach paraphrases his logic in this paper.
“If there are long-lived technological civilizations in the universe, and if they run computer simulations, there must be a huge number of simulated realities complete with artificial-intelligence inhabitants who may have no idea they’re living inside a game — inhabitants like us, perhaps.” (Mach)
Nick Bostrom’s paper doesn’t necessarily argue that it is true we’re living in a simulation, but that it is a possibility.
“This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their 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 will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.” Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX has said the following:
“The strongest argument for us probably being in a simulation I think is the following…
40 years ago we had Pong — two rectangles and a dot. Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year.
And soon virtual reality will be followed by augmented reality.
If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then soon the games will become indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable, and because we will not be able to distinguish real from unreal, It would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in ‘base reality’ is one in billions.” (Medium)
Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, had a theory that the universe was a hologram.
Specifically, he challenged previous theories of cosmic inflation and multiverse in a paper.
Scientists generally believe that for a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe expanded incredibly rapidly before settling into its present state, filled with stars and galaxies – the inflation theory. (Telegraph)
But some have proposed that, on a grander global scale, inflation goes on forever, giving rise to a “multiverse” – a number of different universes with their own laws of physics. (Telegraph)
Prof Hawking was always troubled by this idea, which at a fundamental level cannot be reconciled with Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. In an interview last year he said: “I have never been a fan of the multiverse.” (Telegraph)
Hawking’s theory embraces the notion that the universe is like a vast and complex hologram. In other words, 3D reality is an illusion, and that the apparently “solid” world around us – and the dimension of time – is projected from information stored on a flat 2D surface.
So the world is flat! (I kid, I kid, don’t get mad!)
This is not to say that Hawking, Musk or Bostrom are supporting ancient religious ideas. Not at all. But simply they are raising the point that reality might be a simulation.
To be fair and balanced, I should also consider arguments from the opposing side. Some physicists have said that they found proof that we are not living in a computer simulation. (Cosmos Magazine)
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible – not just practically, but in principle.
I am certainly not smart enough to refute their argument from a scientific standpoint. However, my reaction is that they were testing the capability of computing with modern ideas of computing. A superior being (or beings) with superior technology may be capable of simulating this particular quantum phenomena with technology beyond our comprehension.
Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? Nick Bostrom
A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation? Stephen Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking’s final theory: The universe is a hologram (The Telegraph, 5-2-18)
World is a simulation— and ‘God’ is the machine (Medium, 2-27-18)