Simulation hypothesis: Are we the echo of a future civilization?

Written by Angel Martinez (May 7, 2024)

Imagine that all the reality you know does not exist, or does not exist as we actually believe. It is a detailed computer simulation of what is or should be, the history of an advanced civilization. This is a hypothesis that has been much discussed since the early 2000s by science fiction in films and series such as The Matrix and 1899, but also by some scientists and philosophers as a mental exercise.

This hypothesis is known as the simulation hypothesis or simulism, which states that conscious minds exist within an advanced simulation of reality. This theory, popularised by Nick Bostro, draws on various philosophical theories such as Descartes’ “evil genius” theory. The theory of the “evil genius”, or “evil demon” as it is also called, says that we were created by a God who forces us to deceive ourselves and that he has designed our nature so that we believe we are in the truth when we are in error. In philosophy, exploring the underlying nature of reality itself is not a new exercise; on the contrary, it has been the focus of attention of great minds such as Socrates and Plato.

So why is the simulation hypothesis so interesting to people today?

I will try to approach this question in two ways, philosophically and scientifically. From a philosophical point of view, if we were living in a simulation, it would imply that the human race has excelled itself as a species. The fact that there is a civilization advanced enough to create such a detailed simulation implies that the human race has survived extinction and time. The very fact that the human race has survived extinction would imply that we are already in a simulation. Only if we are in the first timeline could lead this affirmation to be denied, it is difficult to understand but I will explain it to you. Imagine that it is possible to travel into the past, if you travel and influence something, this loop should be repeated forever to avoid the “paradox of time travel”. Similarly, if a future civilization were to simulate us, this simulation in the future would also simulate its past, so either we are the first generation or we are already living in a simulation.

From a scientific point of view, a possibility opens up with the work of Stephen Wolfram, who expresses a new way of looking at science in his article “recursive sequence”, which explains that the laws of the universe can be explained by algorithms. There are people against these statements, as expressed by the philosopher Bernardo Castro, who denies the physical possibility of this based on the “measurement problem” of quantum mechanics. The measurement problem says that because the physical process of measurement alters the evolution of the system in an uncontrolled way, this would mean that not everything can be explained by physics. The fact that the universe can be accurately described by algorithms is frightening because of the following question: who set the algorithm? God? A computer scientist?

Some physicists believe that the fact that physics is quantified, i.e. that the universe is described in a discrete rather than a continuous way, makes it a simulation. John Willer also presents that for him the basic structure of the universe is information, which could lead to the universe being described in bits, which could lead to a simulation.

At present, the technology does not exist to create such a powerful simulation in such detail. Today, the pace of development of quantum computers, superconductors, and artificial intelligence is undeniable. 30 years ago, it was unthinkable that everyone would have a mini-screen in their pocket; a year ago, video generation by artificial intelligence was not even 10% of what it is today. In 2023, it was announced that China could create a supercomputer at room temperature and pressure, paving the way for ever more powerful supercomputers. The exponential growth of progress could foreshadow a future in which an advanced human civilization has the technology to perform these immersive simulations.

These questions and claims can lead to questions about what is reality? Does free will really exist?

David Kipping of Columbia University says we have a 50% chance of living in a simulation. It’s your turn to toss a coin and say what you think.


This article blends scientific research, speculative scenarios, and examples from science fiction to engage readers in an immersive exploration of the possibilities of Science Fiction. While scientific findings provide a foundation, the imaginative elements of science fiction allow us to contemplate extraordinary possibilities.

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