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Simulated reality

Simulated reality describes a hypothetical environment that, although experienced as real, is actually a highly detailed simulation of reality. Unlike the currently technologically achievable concept of virtual reality, which is easily distinguished from the experience of "real" reality, a simulated reality would be impossible to tell apart from "real" reality. Hyperreality describes postmodern attitudes of the perceptions of reality.

The modern version of this involves a thought experiment on the lines of imagining that the person experiencing the simulated reality is somehow "plugged into" a computer of immense power that is programmed with all the rules of the simulation, and provides them with all of their sensory input. A deeper thought experiment may even assume that the person experiencing the simulation is themselves simulated within the simulation, and may have no physical existence at all outside of the simulation.

Two philosophical questions, and one ethical question, arise immediately:

Table of contents
1 Simulated people in simulated reality
2 Simulated reality in fiction
3 Is this a simulated reality?
4 See also
5 External links

Simulated people in simulated reality

Several people have pointed out that if a human brain is analyzed in sufficient detail, the mechanism of that brain might be electronically simulated. The result would behave as an electronic duplicate of the original human brain, as occurs in mind transfer. Whether the speed is similar to the normal speed of a brain would affect how it could interact with the real world. Gathering enough detail is neither possible nor practical, at present in the early 21st century. Science fiction authors have noted various difficulties which such a being may encounter, such as its existence being legally recognized, the right to own property, and the relationships with the original and other duplicates of itself.

Simulated reality in fiction

Simulated reality is a theme that pre-dates science fiction. In Medieval and Renaissance religious theatre, the concept of the world as a theater is frequent. Works include:

Is this a simulated reality?

The simulation argument, due to the philosopher Nick Bostrom, investigates the possibility that we may be living in a simulation. The argument attempts to prove the disjunction of three hypotheses:


His argument uses the premise that given sufficiently advanced technology, it is possible to simulate entire inhabitated planets or even larger habitats, including all the people on them, on a computer, and that simulated people can be fully conscious, and are as much persons as non-simulated people are.

If we then assume that the human race could reach such a technological level without destroying themselves in the process (i.e. we deny the first hypothesis); and that once we reached such a level we would still be interested in history, the past, and our ancestors, and that there would be no legal or moral strictures on running such simulations (we deny the second hypothesis) - then

See also

External links