Are we living in a computer simulation?

Technology is advancing rapidly. According to Moore’s Law, the speed and memory capacity of computers doubles every 18 months. If computers continue to obey Moore’s Law, they will surpass human intelligence at some point in the next hundred years. Today, we have quantum computers that are 100 million times faster than a regular computer in carrying out some tasks.

A D-Wave chip used in quantum computers (Image: D-Wave Systems, Inc., CC BY 3.0)

Many technologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. With so much computing power available, the future generations might think of running detailed simulations of their predecessors i.e. us! In order to create a simulated universe, advanced humans would have to simulate two things: the human minds and the environment.

Simulating the human minds

Do we live in a virtual reality?

Presently, there are about 7.6 billion humans living on Earth that are intelligent enough to question the purpose of their existence. Simulating human minds would be comparatively easy. It is estimated that the human brain performs about 10¹³ to 10¹⁶ logical operations per second. For comparison, the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) performs about 10¹⁵ FLOPS (floating point operations per second).

Note that the comparison is based just on the number of operations that can be performed per second. The human brain is significantly different as compared to the supercomputer. Simulating all the human minds would be impossible using current technology but posthumans would be capable of doing so.

Simulating the environment

Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI

Simulating the environment would be difficult. It would be practically impossible to simulate the entire universe down to the quantum level. In order to save the computing power, the advanced humans would think of simulating only those parts of the universe that are being observed.

Whenever there is an interaction between humans with the quantum world or the distant astronomical objects, the simulator would immediately fill in details about those parts of the universe in the simulation. If at all our universe is a simulation, is there any way we can test this?

Testing the Simulation Hypothesis

Although there have been no attempts to verify the simulation hypothesis experimentally, a group of scientists including the former NASA physicist Tom Campbell are on their way to test this hypothesis experimentally. The group will perform a set of quantum physics experiments to test the hypothesis and have already raised a funding of $236,590.

They will perform variations of the wave-particle duality experiments like the double slit experiment and study how observation affects reality. If the obtained results match with those for a simulated universe and there is no other known hypothesis that can explain the results, they will conclude that our universe is a simulation. They will repeat the experiments several times to verify the results depending on the level of funding they receive.

SpaceX/CRS-8 Post Launch Press Conference

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is a firm believer of the simulation hypothesis (Image: NASA Kennedy)

The simulation hypothesis has many supporters like Elon Musk, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Rich Terrile. According to Musk, there’s a ‘one in billions’ chance that we are not living in a simulation right now. For the simulation hypothesis to be true, it is first necessary for human civilizations to reach a posthuman stage. And if at all they do, they must be interested in running such simulations of their ancestors. Unless we are now living in a simulation, our future generations will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.

Hope you had fun reading the article. Do you believe that our universe is a simulation? Let us know in the comments!


7 thoughts on “Are we living in a computer simulation?

  1. What do you feel about Simulation hypothesis???🤔🤔🤔🤔 I think that we are not living in a Simulation because if we are living in a Simulation we should work according to our simulator but we can work as we want.🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As you have said the simulation hypothesis can be tested by quantum physics experiment. If we consider the case that we are living in a simulation, why would the simulator want to us to know the same? And how the fact that we are leaving a simulation will affect us?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am an atheist but still doesn’t the concept of god says the same . Simulation is just a negative version of it .

    I mean for comparison we say God created us and we still don’t know about it’s existence so is true about Sims
    Sims give us pain or rather situations to us react in the environment well so do we say about god just that God gives us pain or grief to make us strong

    We say Sims only make the observable universe well so did the god that’s why we never really see them

    The MOST important none of them wanted us to know they exist maybe that’s why they never appear around us and show there true identity and somehow if Sims were so smart they would have hidden it well but if we are able to even find this much this somehow means that they are not smart enough
    This somehow means that all those theories about god in India and all those prediction are true just we gave them a face and we believe in those strongly . This Sim is another version of the same . This even means that that or ancestors were so much smarter than us that they could even give faces to them and maybe in future we will be able to give these Sims faces too.
    At the end these Sims are somehow another version of the same theory and rather a negative version of the same ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! The simulation theory might somewhat lead to the idea of a God or someone superior. But whether there God’s are the same as our mythological ones, no one knows right now!


  4. I believe in God and I was thinking this is like God controlling the universe. He controls the universe but He does not control us. If He did control us, he’d make us be so loving and caring, but He gave us free will so we can actually be kind on purpose and not as a mindless zombie. If God does not exist (although I am most certain He does) then I believe the Universe is not a simulation and it came to be by the big bang, and the big bang occured inside of a black hole.


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