Nick Bostrom Elon Musk Nick Bostrom Elon Musk

OMG can anyone write an article on the simulation hypothesis without focusing on Nick Bostrom and Elon Musk? It’s like writing an article about climate change and only mentioning Al Gore.

Dear journalists who are trying to be edgy and write about cool fringe theories, please pay attention. The idea that we might be living in an illusory world is not novel. Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi wrote about it with his butterfly dream in 369 BC. Plato discussed his cave allegory in 380 BC. The other aspect of simulation theory, the idea that the world is discrete or digital, is equally ancient. Plato and Democritous considered atoms, and therefore the fundamental constructs of reality, to be discrete.

I’m not taking anything away from Nick Bostrom, who is a very intelligent modern philosopher. His 2001 Simulation Argument is certainly thought provoking and deserves its place in the annals of digital philosophy. But it was predated by “The Matrix”. Which was predated by Philip K. Dick’s pronouncement in 1977 that we might be living in a computer-programmed reality. Which was predated by Konrad Zuse’s 1969 work on discrete reality, “Calculating Space.”

And as interesting as Bostrom’s Simulation Argument is, it was a 12-page paper on a single idea. Since then, he has not really evolved his thinking on digital philosophy, preferring instead to concentrate on existential risk and the future of humanity.

Nor am I taking anything away from Elon Musk, a brilliant entrepreneur who latched onto Bostrom’s idea for a few minutes, generated a couple sound bites, and then it was back to solar panels and hyperloops.

But Bostrom, Musk, and the tired old posthuman-generated simulation hypothesis is all that the rank and file of journalists seem to know to write about. It is really sad, considering that Tom Campbell wrote an 800-page treatise on the computational nature of reality. I have written two books on the subject. Both of our material is largely consistent and has evolved the thinking far beyond the idea that we live in a posthuman-generated simulation. In fact, I provide a great deal of evidence that the Bostrom-esque possibility is actually not very likely. And Brian Whitworth has a 10-year legacy of provocative scientific papers on evidence for a programmed reality that are far beyond the speculations of Musk and Bostrom.

The world need to know about these things and Campbell, Whitworth, and I can’t force people to read our books, blogs, and papers. So journalists, with all due respect, please up your simulation game.

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