Philosopher Nick Bostrom on Whether We Live in a Simulation
When Morpheus told us our reality was fake, it sounded far-fetched. Since then, though, the idea has picked up steam. In 2001, two years after The Matrix hit theaters, Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom circulated the first draft of his “simulation argument,” which posits three scenarios: (1) Humanity will go extinct before creating technology powerful enough to run convincing simulations of reality; (2) humanity will live to see such technology but decide, for whatever reason, not to run any simulations; (3) humanity will create that technology and run many different simulations of its evolutionary history — in which case there would be lots of simulated realities and only one non-simulated one, so maybe it’s more likely than not that we’re living in a simulation right now. That third scenario has excited many over the years, including Elon Musk, who in 2016 put our odds of living in a non-simulated reality at “one in billions.” We called Bostrom to discuss his paper’s legacy.