Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

>Student submission

After searching through many articles about futuristic computers and such, I came across this article from the New York Times that I found to be quite fascinating. The article is called “Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch,” by John Tierny. It discusses Dr. Bostrom’s theory that we are all part of some intricate computer simulation “that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.” I found the theory to be far-fetched, but very interesting nonetheless. The article went on to discuss the possibilities that “some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century.” While I do not disagree that virtual realities will continue to become more lifelike; I would question the possibility of such a simulation that the participant would be unaware of their own reality.

I am a huge fan of the movie, “The Matrix,” so I found the arguments for this theory to be amusing. The second page of the article went on to discuss in detail how one might act in a virtual world and the moral issues associated with it. One philosopher stated that, “Dr. Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis isn’t a cause for skepticism, but simply a different metaphysical explanation of our world.” So, we are in a world where we are just a computer simulation for someone else’s amusement? I hardly think so, but I still found the idea of realistic computer simulations to intriguing. I think that there are many enjoyable possibilities for such simulations. You could take a trip on a “virtual vacation” or maybe try out a new career as a surgeon in a “virtual operating room.” Now those are virtual simulations that I might want to visit, but living in one….No thanks! –JS


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