The question of whether we are actually aware of the real world is one that has been asked continually by philosophers throughout history.
Plato, regarded by many as the father of Western philosophy, suggested that the only way to come to a realisation of the real world was an in-depth study of maths and geometry, which would give students an inkling of the real nature of the world.
French philosopher René Descartes raised the problem again as a thought experiment to lead readers to a position of radical doubt. By postulating about a malicious demon that can keep us trapped in an illusory world, Descartes asks readers to cast aside all the evidence of their sensory experiences in a search for one certain premise.
Descartes famously came up with the argument ‘cogito ergo sum’, or rather ‘I think therefore I am’, which he uses as an “indubitable bedrock” from which to reconstruct a certain picture of reality.
Fast forward to today, where a team of physicists say they have devised a test that they say could prove whether or not our universe is a virtual reality simulation.
Here’s the reason why theorists think we could be a living in the matrix:
It is likely that a very advanced civilization will want to make a simulation of the universe, to better understand the universe. However, those simulations will also want to make a simulation to better understand their simulated universe. In other words, one real universe can spawn countless infinite child simulations because each simulation will want to create their own simulation.
Therefore, if there is only one real universe and countless infinite simulations, it is highly possible that the universe we live in is the simulation and not the original universe. Which leads us to the reason why some scientists are trying to conduct experiments to see if our universe is a simulation.
Theorists believe that if our cosmos is a numerical simulation, there ought to be clues in the spectrum of high-energy cosmic rays.
Silas Beane of the University of Bonn, Germany, and his colleagues contend that a simulation of the universe, no matter how complex, would still have constraints which would reveal it. (You can read more about their theory here.)
So, what is the verdict?
Do we have free will at the moment, or is it just an illusion?
Is free will merely a complex chemical reaction in our brains reacting from the input from our senses, the current chemicals in our brain and the memories of past experiences? Could this be simulated?
WHAT IF THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF OUR SIMULATED UNIVERSE IS FOR US TO BECOME AWARE THAT WE ARE IN FACT LIVING IN A VIRTUAL REALITY, AT WHICH POINT THE SIMULATION TERMINATES???
This correspondent is not entirely sold on the concept. But just in case: I, for one, would like to extend a warm welcome to our new mechanic overlords, wherever they might be.