Living in A Simulation
March 3, 2011 1 Comment
The above new video accompanies my blog entry from last August, on the subject of Simulism: the idea that we could be living within a gigantic virtual world, whether we are aware of it or not. Simulism.org is a wiki created by the Netherlands’ Ivo Jansch, and it brings together a number of interesting bits of information about (to quote from the wiki) “the possibility that our existence rests on an unimaginably complex n-dimensional k-state computer grid with rules governing the transition from one state to another”.
In my previous post on Simulism and the above video blog, I talk about several other shows which have showed Simulism-related concepts, including The Matrix, Inception, Star Trek: TNG’s holodeck, and a television show I had not come across before called Play. The Moviespage at the simulism wiki lists a number of other films, most of which are obviously science fiction. But I couldn’t resist adding a few of my favorite films to the list because (in my opinion) they present related concepts:
A Christmas Carol – could this 1843 Charles Dickens novella be the grand-daddy of Simulism? The ghosts conjure virtual worlds of time travel and alternate timelines that to Ebenezer Scrooge are completely real.
It’s a Wonderful Life – when George Bailey is shown an alternate version of the world as it would have been without him, can’t this be thought of as a simulation?
Groundhog Day – being trapped at a certain instant of time (6 am on Groundhog Day), and then being given the freedom to explore all the possible timelines that extend from that instant: is Phil Conners trapped in a simulation? The movie offers no explanation so we are left to imagine what could have been the cause of his predicament.
Brazil – since so much of this film is surreal, placed “somewhere in the twentieth century” according to the opening subtitle, it’s possible that the entire film is a virtual world, a simulation. Could Sam Lowry have woken up from the dream, Neo-style, at any moment in this movie? Since the world depicted in this film is unlike any version of the twentieth century you or I experienced, there are other “alternate history” discussions that could just as easily be related to this film, one of my all-time favorites.
The wikipedia article on alternate history presents some examples of stories exploring the “what would have the world been like if this rather than that had happened” as far back as two thousand years ago: ideas of parallel universe versions of our own observed universe are not as new as you might suspect! And if Information Equals Reality, then all of these examples of simulism, alternate histories, and parallel universes may not just be flights of imagination, but examples of the possibilities inherent in the underlying structures of our reality.
Enjoy the journey!