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VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
Are we ALL simulated characters?? Join us... and find out!

In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at the simulation hypothesis, and all the mind-bending theories that are inspired by it!


Does the Simulation Exist?</h4>


The Simulation Hypothesis has come to be one of the most intriguing and important alternate worldviews that we have. In short, it suggests that everything we know could just as well be a wholly artificial product, created and  maintained by some kind of unknown, higher being.


In this video, we’ll explore the implications of sim theory from the point of view of humans; we’ll discuss multiple real world examples that seemingly show the sim in action; we’ll ask what would happen if we were ever able to prove the simulation beyond doubt; and we’ll consider what would happen next if we ever built a sim of our own.


This is Unveiled, and today we’re answering the extraordinary question; does the simulation exist?


The digital age has seen the creation of simulated worlds in video games where anything and everything is possible. As technology progresses, so too does the believability of these worlds. Games may one day become indistinguishable from reality, providing immersive experiences with lifelike characters. But is it possible that we’re the equivalent of a video game to someone else? 


Questions about the nature of reality have been central to philosophy for thousands of years. According to idealism, which rose to prominence in the 19th century, reality is a mental construct, the product of consciousness. In the last century or so, the theory has fallen out of favor, eclipsed by materialism. But the idea that reality might be illusory, or even a dream, has persisted on the sidelines. 


Of these theories, the Simulation Hypothesis might be the most convincing. In fact, many famed thinkers such as Elon Musk and Neil Degrasse Tyson think it’s more likely than not. The hypothesis states that our reality is merely a simulation, something like the Matrix where everything is code in some type of computer. Elon Musk is one of the best known proponents of the hypothesis, giving the odds of us being in “base reality” at one in billions. But he’s not the only one who gives the idea serious thought.


The hypothesis was first formulated by Nick Bostrom in a 2003 paper entitled, “Are We Living In A Computer Simulation?”. Since then, the idea has gained traction with a wide audience. NASA Scientist Rich Terrile has argued that there’s no reason we can’t eventually program consciousness into a computer, and that it’s extraordinarily unlikely we’re not in a simulation. He considers it a more reasonable hypothesis than believing that self-aware beings such as ourselves rose from nothing more than a primordial goo. It’s a hypothesis that isn’t easily knocked down. If advanced civilizations are able and willing to run such simulations, and run huge numbers of them, the result would be more simulated minds than real minds. In other words, most minds would belong to one of the simulated realities, rather than the single “base reality”. 


Of course, this assumes that the reality we live in can be simulated. But that at least seems possible. Matter, for example, is finite, and can be broken down into discrete units - with subatomic particles analogous to pixels in a video game. It might even soon be possible to code minds. In 2015 an international team of researchers was able to digitally recreate part of a rat’s brain. If it’s possible to upload entire brains, a concept called mind uploading, then how do we know that they haven’t been already? And that our own brains aren’t really uploads, living in a simulated reality? 


There’s some physical evidence in favor of the hypothesis too. For one, at the quantum level, phenomena exist in a superposition of different states until measured - what’s known as the Observer Effect. It’s been argued that this could be a way to save memory or processing power, “rendering” reality only when it’s observed. Our DNA, too, is eerily similar to computer code. In fact, in 2017 a team of researchers at the University of Washington embedded actual computer code in a physical strand of DNA, highlighting just how similar the two may be. In addition, Theoretical physicist James Gates claims to have identified computer code in a form of string theory, the closest theory to everything that we currently have. 


For some, the simulation hypothesis is also a more satisfactory explanation for so-called supernatural activity, as it can be put down to glitches in the program. Ghosts, for example, could be representations of past lives that accidentally become visible. If we ARE living in a simulation, can we ever escape? Well, aliens might provide a clue to that question. With the sheer number of planets in the cosmos and the staggering amount of time that the universe has existed, why haven’t we observed intelligent extraterrestrial life? This is known as the Fermi Paradox, and one potential explanation is that when civilizations become advanced enough, they learn to escape the simulation we all live in. Meaning that aliens did exist in our universe once upon a time, but were able to escape before we came along. Our ultimate fate may be to learn how to escape our virtual prison and experience the real outer world. 


Then again, why would anyone create a simulation like ours in the first place? One hypothesis is that our future descendants created us in a simulation to see how we evolved and to potentially recreate the past by programming the same boundaries of reality. This is called an Ancestor Simulation. Another idea posits that we were created to solve a difficult problem that our programmers don’t have enough time to figure out. This could potentially be climate change, as it’s more than likely that an advanced civilization will initially burn fossil fuels for power and run into the same problems as us. If that’s the case, we could be a simulation whose purpose is to solve climate change - a problem that, unfortunately, we haven’t quite figured out yet. 


Or, like video games or movies, perhaps we’re nothing more than entertainment; a reality show for higher beings to enjoy to escape from their own dull existences. As technology progresses, we’re looking more and more into the Simulation Hypothesis. When we do get to the point where our own computer simulations match reality, a possibility that’s all but ensured in time, we may start escaping to these virtual worlds for more exciting lives. At that point, we’ll already be living in simulations for at least some of our lives. There may even come a time when people go to work in simulations instead of physically traveling to their jobs and end up spending a majority of their lives in a virtual reality. 


It’s no stretch to think that since it may one day be possible, we could already be living in one. And as our knowledge of science grows, we may be able to mathematically prove once and for all that everything we’ve ever known has been nothing more than code programmed into a higher being’s computer.


In 1989, “SimCity” was released. The first of its kind, it had players build homes, construct infrastructure, collect taxes, and more. Its success kickstarted a new genre of video game, urban simulation… which led to the ultra-successful “Sims” franchise. Players apparently enjoy the omnipotent feeling; running (and perhaps ruining) the lives of their characters on screen. But, sometimes, the real world can feel a little like life imitating art… and some have reported experiences that made them feel as though they were a Sim in someone else’s game.


Broadly, simulation theory is the idea that our entire world - everything we know, have known, and will ever know - is merely a simulation being run on a highly advanced supercomputer, on another, higher plane somewhere. It’s a somewhat divisive concept. Well-known scientists such as Neil Degrasse Tyson and Nick Bostrom have argued in favor of the theory before, particularly Bostrom… although others remain skeptical. One of the problems with simulation theory is the same as that which dogs many a theoretical suggestion; it’s extremely hard to either prove or disprove. It’s not something that anyone can easily find evidence for or against. But nevertheless, with the rise of technology in recent decades, sim theory is becoming more and more popular in the modern world.


With video games and CGI technology growing more lifelike by the year, it’s no longer hard to imagine a future when even the simulations that we build will be almost indistinguishable from real life. With breakthroughs in quantum computing seemingly just around the corner, too, we’ll soon have more data than ever at our fingertips… enabling, among other things, ever more detailed artificial environments. Indeed, it seems the only thing standing between us and creating a truly lifelike simulation for ourselves… is our current level of advancement right now. But, according to various models, if there is other, alien life out there, then the chances are that at least some of it is already more advanced than we are. 


So, what if there were (or are) aliens who already have the required technology? It would mean that there’s a chance - perhaps a strong chance - that they’d have by now built the kind of simulation we’re imagining. A super sim; and then that we could be a part of that. And, although evidence is hard to find, there are still plenty of stories that seem to suggest our reality isn’t quite what we think.


One of the most intriguing examples actually comes from a master storyteller himself, Philip K. Dick. The famous science fiction author achieved widespread success, with the likes of “Minority Report”, “Blade Runner” and “The Man in the High Castle” all based off of his work. What might surprise fans, however, is that he also underwent a series of intense religious or spiritual experiences in real life, and these ultimately influenced a lot of his later writings. In 1974, Philip K. Dick underwent dental surgery, and it was reportedly shortly afterwards that his reality began to crumble. 


According to his own accounts, he first saw a pink light that revealed universal truths to him. From that light, he apparently gained a much deeper understanding of philosophy and of the wider world. Next, and again shortly after the surgery, he started to see visions, hallucinations, or what some might call “glitches in the matrix”. The past began to seep into the writer’s present, so much so that he allegedly witnessed the modern world merge with Ancient Romme. Ordinary citizens around him morphed into Roman guards, and Philip K. Dick himself began to live a second life as a Christian of the time, named Thomas. Later referring to that first “pink light”, he further described it as experiencing an “invasion of [the] mind by a transcendentally rational mind”. Perhaps the most rational explanation is that what he experienced was some kind of psychotic break. But, there are some alternate theories. For one, could that “rational mind” he spoke of have been a link to a higher power? A power like the creator of our simulation, perhaps, granting one of our most creative thinkers a peek behind the curtain?


Next, we encounter another aspect of life (in general) that some argue may point to it all being a made-up sim; luck. Luck is a strange concept overall. Difficult to explain, and certainly difficult to master. Some of us are luckier than others, of course, but one man’s luck played out to such extremes that his story has become linked with possible proof of some other, higher force. Frano Selak is known both as the luckiest and unluckiest man in history, depending on how you look at it. He was a music teacher leading an ordinary life until a train crash in 1962 that almost resulted in his death… but he was pulled to safety while others died. Then, a year later, a plane he was in began to plummet to the ground as an emergency door burst open. Selak was actually dragged out of the plane during the fall. The eventual crash killed 19 people, but Selak survived as a result of falling through the open door, and apparently landing in a nearby haystack. 


So that’s two near-fatal disasters in just a few months, but Selak’s bizarre luck and life story wasn’t done there. He went on to defy death a number of other times. He escaped a sinking bus; was hit by another bus; his car exploded while he was driving it; and he was flung out of another car when it crashed into a ravine, leaving Selak to beat the odds once again by clinging onto a tree for dear life. Having come through all of that, however, Selak went on to win the equivalent of more than one million dollars on the lottery. Death couldn’t beat him, and fortune eventually fell into his lap. For some, his story is akin to that of a video game character. So unlikely that surely it can’t have been pure chance? Surely there has to have been someone pulling the strings for Selak, somewhere? What do you think?


Maybe we need more than just individual case studies to truly question reality, though? And actually there are examples of shared experiences (involving large numbers of people) that seemingly defy explanation. First, throughout history, multiple sailors (and pirates) have written accounts of seeing mystical structures in the sky (like castles) while they’ve been out at sea. This may well be alternatively explained as ocean mirages appearing before tired crews - a phenomenon sometimes called a Fata Morgana. But these apparent visions are also said to have led people to their deaths before. Sailors have followed what they’ve seen because it just doesn’t make sense to them, and ultimately they’ve paid a heavy price. Indeed, such sightings are likely the inspiration behind the story of the legendary “ghost ship”, the Flying Dutchman. 


But, it’s not as though “bizarre things in the sky” are only seen over the sea. Similar seeming impossibilities have appeared over land, too, and even over densely populated cities. In 2015, citizens in China looked up to see what appeared to be an entire cityscape present itself amongst the clouds; each dark shadow doubling as a detailed outline of a different tower or building. Again, such was the strangeness of the sight that it caused many to think that this was a glitch in reality - or in the simulation - just as when something in a video game loads in the wrong spot or clips through part of the environment. Various more scientific explanations have been put forward for the sky city in China and the phantom palaces witnessed by seafarers… but not everyone is satisfied. Some claim that in attempting to explain them away we’re actually refusing to see what’s really there - an apparently open window into the background mechanics of the sim that we’re all stuck in.


But, again, what’s your verdict? Perhaps you’ve also had a feeling before that something just isn’t quite right? If you’d like to, then let us know about it in the comments! From Philip K. Dick’s possible bridge to the “other side”, to Frano Selak’s hugely improbable run of luck, to the incredible mass sightings of apparently floating worlds… do we already have all the evidence we need that our world isn’t what we think it is? 


The suggestion that all of our experiences are actually being programmed by some sort of supercomputer in the sky… is still a reasonably new one. The true nature of reality has long been a philosophical talking point, but perhaps now it’s time for science to take a more practical approach? Already, some claim the odds of us really living in a sim are as high as fifty percent. 


It’s becoming easier to imagine that we're really characters in a video game, or virtual world, living out our lives for someone else’s entertainment. If this hypothesis were true, we might one day be able to scientifically prove it. 


The “simulation hypothesis” has roots in ancient religious beliefs and philosophy. But it became a mainstream staple of pop culture thanks to the 1999 movie “The Matrix”. In it, computer programmer and hacker Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, discovers that he’s living in a digital simulation that’s really just vertical lines of green code. In 2003, the simulation hypothesis was reformulated and reinvigorated by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. Bostrom argued that either: human civilizations will never be capable, or interested in, running “ancestor simulations”; or they WILL, in which case they’ll probably run a gazillion of them - meaning we’re more likely to be living in a simulation than in the real world. 


The idea has been influential. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has claimed that there’s a one-in-billions chance we’re living in a non-simulated, organic “base-reality”. Prominent theoretical physicist Dr. S. James Gates Jr says that certain equations related to string theory are a mirror image of code you could find in your computer. Just as programs are based in numbered code, so is our universe similarly governed by mathematical laws. And quantum mechanics demonstrates that the simple act of observing something, even by an electronic detector, changes reality - something that’s incredibly difficult to explain. If we imagine our universe as a bunch of particles all following predictable mathematical equations, this is analogous to observation altering the code of reality. 


Of course, proving that we live in a simulation isn’t easy. Assuming that the simulation relies on finite computational resources, we might be able to show that spacetime is divided into a discrete set of points, or only renders when the information becomes available to us. For now, let’s just assume that such an experiment was successful, and proved the Matrix. The first thing that humans would probably do would be to find a way to control the simulation. After all, just think of the possibilities. By manipulating the code of our existence, we could stop time, generate endless money, learn skills instantly, or teleport anywhere in the universe. In doing so, we’d essentially be activating the cheat codes to our lives. We could even try jumping to alternate realities or parallel universes, which would really be simulations run simultaneously with ours. If they didn’t exist, we might be able to just create them, as new simulations “nested” in our own. We could then travel to places like Middle-Earth, Hogwarts, Westeros, or any other location we could imagine. We could even fix our own world, ending global warming and solving world hunger. 


But how could we go about hacking the code? Maybe it would only require awareness of the simulation, as in “The Matrix” - where Neo learns to bend the rules. Or it might be possible to see through the illusion using meditation, as is taught in some Vedic philosophies. Then again, it might be much more complicated. After all, how could a video game character access the code to their own game? Well, WE might not be able to . . . but perhaps a sophisticated enough A.I. could puzzle out a way for us to infect life’s operating system. Then again, there may also be “bugs” that we can exploit. This could involve manipulation of subatomic particles, for example through our experiments with quantum entanglement. Or it could mean altering the code of our DNA to influence traits like strength, intelligence, and physical attractiveness. In fact, the technology to be able to do this may already exist with the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool, which, as its name suggests, can alter a living organism’s genes. 


Mind you, we might not want to exploit potential “bugs” TOO much - lest our creators decide to just reset the simulation. Even if we couldn’t hack the universe, proving the Matrix would fundamentally change how we think about our world. In particular, it could give us plausible explanations for previously unexplained phenomena. For example, the claim that Jesus healed people and turned water into wine. Perhaps he was able to access and alter the code of our simulation! Similarly, our experience of deja vu might REALLY be a glitch in the Matrix. It could also explain how our mind is able to strongly affect our body. Consider the placebo effect, which occurs when a patient’s condition improves in response to a fake treatment that they believe to be real. Using this method, psychologists at Victoria University in New Zealand were able to convince research participants that they were drunk on vodka, even though they’d only had tonic water and lime. The participants felt drunk, acted drunk, and were more swayed by misleading information. Researchers still aren’t entirely sure how this happens, but the placebo effect is so strong that in some cases, it can be as effective as medical treatment. 


The public’s reaction to discovering that existence is nothing more than computer code would likely be split. While some would find it fascinating, others would face an existential crisis, as they asked themselves: if life is just a simulation, does anything matter? Many would no doubt look for a way to break free from our virtual prison to see the “real” world. After all, proving the Matrix would almost certainly point to there being a Creator who wrote the code. Could we somehow visit them then? 


Such a crisis could threaten the fabric of our society. People might no longer see the point of going to work at a job they hate if their lives are nothing more than code in a program. If that happened, our economy would collapse as countless people quit. In another sense, however, proving the Matrix might give us an answer to the meaning of life. We would finally know once and for all that we’re not an accident or a byproduct of random probability. Someone specifically created us for a certain purpose. We might be a sort of experiment, designed to see how frequently life develops in the universe. Or we might be a form of entertainment for higher beings, basically an advanced version of Sims. 


In some ways, proving the Matrix might even serve to soothe people’s existential anxiety, because it at least provides an answer as to why we’re here. In such a world, “death” might not have the same import, and there’s a chance we might continue to exist as code somewhere. If not, we might be able to find out how to become immortal by manipulating that same code. In fact, it might be preferable to remain inside the Matrix, than to escape it, even if we could. Elon Musk has pointed out that we don’t create games or simulations that are more boring than our base reality. We create them to add excitement or entertainment to our lives. So maybe base reality is just . . . really dull! 


Proving the Matrix would offer exciting new possibilities. It would completely change our view of the world, and if we could manipulate or exploit the source code, we really could dodge bullets in slow motion, leap over rooftops, or obtain all the knowledge in the world - effectively becoming superheroes or gods.


Are we living in a simulated universe? How real is reality? The simulation theory provides us with so many existential avenues to explore. But what happens if the roles are reversed and we’re the ones in control?


Humanity has long wrestled with the notion that life, the universe and everything might actually be a whole heap of… nothing. The ancient scholars continually questioned their own existence, while the seventeenth century philosopher René Descartes is well remembered for his views that life can never be truly trusted - inspiring his most famous line; cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).


In more modern times, the Simulation Hypothesis has taken over as alternative worldview number one. 


This idea that we’re built, rendered and controlled by a technologically supreme higher power has been the basis of many a movie or game series, as well as some previous videos on this very channel. But today we’re turning the question around, to ask what would happen if, against all the odds, humans weren’t the ones populating the sim… but were actually the ones running it.


Straight away, this scenario requires human society to rank as one of the most advanced societies across all of space and all of history. For that reason alone, it’s statistically unlikely that it will ever come to pass. Currently, life on Earth is the most advanced we know about in the universe… but we also have nothing to compare it to. We’re a sample size of just one… so what are the chances that we’re also a model of cosmological perfection? They’re not high!


Regardless, the fact that we’ve even managed to concoct something like the Simulation Hypothesis says something about our intelligence. As does the arrival of virtual and augmented reality tech. On some, limited level, then, we might argue that we’re already building reality sims of our own - just ask anyone who’s spent an afternoon crashing around their living room in a VR headset, or has sunk hours of time into a world-building video game. But this would be a wholly different prospect.


A human-controlled, conscious reality sim could go one of two ways. It could be accessible by only a limited number of people, or it could be that everyone can join in. With the first option, the sim’s existence might be kept secret from the majority and treated as a futuristic experiment. Or it might be that everyone can observe the sim, it’s just that they can’t affect it. So, it becomes a kind of detached entertainment. Reality TV 2.0. 


With the second option - where it’s open access and we can all join in - our sim becomes a sort of second world. It could be that we ourselves inhabit the simulation - as in the 2018 Steven Spielberg movie, “Ready Player One”. Or it could just be that we, all of us, control it from the outside. That humans are elevated to assume a god-like position.


Let’s take a deeper look at the first option. Imagine that there’s a small group, somewhere on Earth, that really has worked out how to birth an entire reality filled with definitely conscious beings. There are a number of reasons why they might not want to let the rest of the world know about it… but chief among them would be the total panic it could trigger. Because, if humans can build a sim convincing enough to pass as the real world for those that inhabit it… then couldn’t something else be doing the same to us? And then something else to them? And so on. The knowledge of even one layer of simulated reality could unravel fears of endless more layers, and that could prove the end of civilization… even as we primitively understand it.


That’s a big problem… but what about if the same select group of sim creators can also prove with certainty that there aren’t any more layers. Perhaps, whilst birthing their own reality, they’ve devised methods of testing this one, too… and it’s found to be authentic. It really is real. At that point, they might safely reveal their creation to the rest of humankind… and thereby change the world forever! 


Everyone on the planet would now be faced with the knowledge that everyone in the sim was none the wiser to their true nature. Some would undoubtedly pray for them… but the guiding hand of their god would be totally known to us. The simulated beings might show Faith in an unseen, divine figure (much as many humans do)… but we, on our now heightened level of reality, would know that their Faith was actually being placed in just mortal flesh and bone. As a result, those in command of the sim could well develop a massive God Complex, only now it wouldn’t be a delusion… they really would be in control of everything. 


For as long as the sim remained under the power of only a select few, however, it’s not as though those few could never be challenged by everyone else on Earth watching on. After all, we would know what their simulations would not… that they weren’t really gods and were still just normal (if incredibly intelligent) people. Soon, the sim controllers could face resistance. There’d be campaigns for sim rights, for example, with calls for the control of sims to stop. And the life and fate of simulated beings would be continually discussed by ethics boards.


These issues don’t disappear, however, if we imagine our second option for a human-led sim; that it’s accessible and controllable by everyone. In many ways, the problems actually increase. Now, we have the potential for all humans to rule and manipulate a different world - to the benefit or detriment of not just the sims, but also themselves. Would the simulated beings be treated fairly, or cruelly? Would we recognise ourselves in them, or treat them as lesser-than or other? Might the simulated world become just a testing ground for real-world ideas? Or could we turn it into a Utopia and, in fact, prefer to spend our time there than in our actual reality? And could that mean that the real world falls to ruin?


With so much that could go wrong, there’d no doubt be some attempt made to police the sim. To monitor who accesses it, and when, and to track the changes they make while they’re tapped in. But how would we go about deciding the laws of this land? And, given that the inhabitants of the sim would all, in their own minds, be conscious… would these even be decisions that we’d have a right to make? Perhaps there’d be certain grades of access available - ranging from tourist to full-on world-builder - but, again, how to decide who sits at the top and at the bottom of that hierarchy?


If nothing else, in this strange, multi-dimensional, alternate version of reality, there would be one rule that no-one could break. Under no circumstances must the truth be revealed. For the sim inhabitants, such a revelation could destroy their existence. For the human controllers watching on, it might only play out like a glitch across the system… before it shuts down and we all carry on with our lives. But for those inside the world that we built, it’s the apocalypse. It’s the end of days. And it would be all of our fault. Could you do it? Could you be the one to unveil the truth and set in motion the sim-shattering consequences?


Thankfully, for now, there are no signs that humanity has, or ever will have, this kind of higher, cross-dimensional power. If we did, we can all hope that we’d use it wisely, fairly and for the benefit of both this world and the created one… but a God Complex come true wouldn’t necessarily be for the better.


So, what’s your verdict? Is the simulation real? Are we currently living within it? Or are we on the cusp of creating it for ourselves? Are we at the top of this particular alternate reality, or merely one of potentially many simulated realms run by others?


If the simulation does exist, then it certainly isn’t common knowledge throughout our species. And the day that it becomes common knowledge would surely be the most significant day in our entire history - for better or worse.