Thursday, August 16, 2007

All The World's A Stage , Holograph , er, Simulation

The search for a unifying theory of the universe has led to a plethora of fascinating concepts -- string theory, The Holographic Universe, the infinite possibility of parallel sheets of theoretical world-branes, and now, philosopher Nick Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, is suggesting that that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

As John Tierney of the NY Times noted, "it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims...
This simulation would be similar to the one in “The Matrix,” in which most humans don’t realize that their lives and their world are just illusions created in their brains while their bodies are suspended in vats of liquid. But in Dr. Bostrom’s notion of reality, you wouldn’t even have a body made of flesh. Your brain would exist only as a network of computer circuits."

A rather unsettling theory, I think -- but as John Tierney points out, it "might at last dispose of that of classic theological question: How could God allow so much evil in the world? For the same reason there are plagues and earthquakes and battles in games like World of Warcraft. Peace is boring, Dude." Access to the full NY Times article here.

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