Solipsism is a philosophical concept that says you are the only being that exists in this whole world. The universe that exists, or in simple terms the things around you, or the beings interacting with you is all made up in your mind. So, whatever is happening with you or the people you know, you call as friends or lover or family, everything is just made up in your mind, it isn’t real.
Another argument that may come after reading this is that if we make up the world around us in our mind, why can’t we simply control the thoughts we get. Why can’t we be the ruler of the world? The answer is that we think what our environment or the people around us make us think. For example, if I ask you right now, not to think of a moon.
You just did, didn’t you? This shows that the thoughts are independent. You can’t decide which thought you are going to think about. Thoughts appear to influence each other. This gave rise to another theory which is being researched for 30 years now by philosophers.
Human brain is capable of many things. One of the theories or in more specific terms, the argument came into being by Nick Bostrom, a Philosopher at Oxford University called as The Simulation Argument. This argument states three things:
(1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
(2) any posthuman civilisation is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
(3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
In simple words, the first argument says that Humans will go extinct before creating a simulation that big with the huge computation power required.
The second argument says that we won’t reach up to that level because the humans will lose interest or find better things to focus at. The third argument says that we are, ourselves living in a simulation. Now, according to Elon Musk, the possibility of first 2 arguments is very less and he believes that indeed we are living in a simulation whereas, Nick Bostrom proposes that there is a 20% chance of the possibility of the third argument.
The third argument says that we are, ourselves living in a simulation. Now, according to Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, the possibility of first 2 arguments is very less and he believes that indeed we are living in a simulation whereas, Nick Bostrom proposes that there is a 20% chance of the possibility of the third argument.
These arguments leave an open question as to whether we are indeed in a brain-in-a-vat situation, that is being fed to sensory inputs and working according to the superhumans’ inputs.
According to George Smoot, who calls the higher beings as philosophical zombies says that humans aren’t capable of figuring out the reality. He gives a very good argument with the help of the concept of optical illusion. Look at the picture below and count the black dots.
The picture looks like a video but it isn’t. This proves that it is quite to befool our brains and Thus, a human brain isn’t really capable of handling this powerful computation of simulation. For instance, the lack of computation power always leads to compromising algorithms.
This also has given a rise to the traditional religious belief that in order to be able to run such higher order simulation, a perfect being is necessary and not the thinking beings like us which may imply that indeed there is a life beyond the humans that operates such simulations referring to the God-like creature in layman terms.
The idea that the simulations can be done is because the technology is coming now that will map the entire brain into a simulation. Google says that by 2045, it will be able to put up brains into computers which will help the computers to simulate just like us.
Thus, this brings me to another concept of scepticism. The problem of scepticism has been widely discussed and says about doubting every knowledge that you have. René Descartes said, “I think because I am”, where he proved that everything that we know and we take that granted for can be questioned. Simple, small questions can change the way you look at your life and things that happen around you. Your thoughts give way to other thoughts and so on and thus, whether or not we are living in a simulation is still an open question. The idea that the sounds around us, the place we’re sitting at or the people around us are actually a part of the simulation or is it just a part of your own thoughts, your own mind still remains a question.
This theory helps to understand the threats to human survival on earth and in addition to that introduces powerful situations which may occur at a later stage for humans.
So, the question still remains! Are we real?