The Universe Solved


Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom (10 March 1973 –) is a Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University in the UK and the director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute.  His research includes existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, AI, and human evolution.  He is not necessarily a strong proponent of digital physics/philosophy but he has had a significant impact on the field with his 2001 paper “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” also known as “The Simulation Argument.”


In this paper, Bostrom argues that Moore’s Law is relentlessly driving technology to the point at which we will be able to create computer simulations that are indistinguishable from reality.  He envisions these ancestor-simulations marking the beginning of a post-human age.  While he makes no estimates of the time frame in which this will happen, he references some authors who say that we are “decades away,” and points out that this time frame has no bearing on his argument. 

As his logic goes, given that we will create millions of these simulations, the odds that we are not in one of them is tiny, unless we don’t reach that stage for some reason.  Hence, we either:


1. Destroy ourselves in the next few decades, thereby not becoming post-human

2. Intentionally decide not to pursue simulation technology (which is highly unlikely)

3. Are almost certainly in a simulation now. 


He gives equal probability to each of the three scenarios.  As a corollary, he says that “unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.”


There is no evidence that Bostrom believes in digital physics, free will, nor the idea that consciousness influences reality.


External Links:

- Home Page


Simulation Argument


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