In the 4th century BC, the Greek philosopher Plato theorised that humans do not perceive the world as it really is. All we can see is shadows on a wall.
In 2003, the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper which formalised an argument to prove Plato was right. The paper argued that one of the following three statements is true:
1. We will go extinct fairly soon
2. Advanced civilisations don’t produce simulations containing entities which think they are naturally-occurring sentient intelligences. (This could be because it is impossible.)
3. We are in a simulation.
The reason for this is that if it is possible, and civilisations can become advanced without exploding, then there will be vast numbers of simulations, and it is vanishingly unlikely that any randomly selected civilisation (like us) is a naturally-occurring one.
Some people find this argument pretty convincing. As we will hear later, some of us have added twists to the argument. But some people go even further, and speculate about how we might bust out of the simulation.
One such person is our friend and our guest in this episode, Roman Yampolskiy, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Louisville.
Music: Spike Protein, by Koi Discovery, available under CC0 1.0 Public Domain Declaration
"How to Hack the Simulation" by Roman Yampolskiy: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/364811408_How_to_Hack_the_Simulation
"The Simulation Argument" by Nick Bostrom: https://www.simulation-argument.com/