Consciousness and Simulation Theory

PhilosophyClub Simulation

Author: Jill Gomez

My topic this week has to do with consciousness and control (similar to the free-will discussions we have had in the past).  I have always wondered what makes my thoughts mine and what really goes on behind the scenes of the brain’s firing synapses.  Do we have control over our own consciousness?  There are plenty of references to consciousness in pop culture today.  Take Netflix as an example.  There are a few shows they have released such as Black Mirror (S4, E1: USS Callister, S2, E4: White Christmas, S3, E4: San Junipero, etc.) and Maniac that try to explain what being conscious means, how we can detect when we are conscious, and how we may be able to upload our consciousness to a variety of networks in the near future.

A few questions I would like to discuss are:

-What is consciousness? Is it merely self-awareness?

-What happens to our consciousness when we die?  

-Would your idea of consciousness change if I told you we are all living in a simulation?

-Would our future selves be the ones running the simulation or would it be a different entity, possibly a higher being?

-If it is not us, then do we lose our sense of free-will or are their different timelines that we could enter (similar to a video game)?

Some people (@Elon Musk) think that our reality is a created through vibrational energy that communicates in the language of computer code, and probabilistically they are correct. A few quotes from the readings I have attached explain the simulation hypothesis/theory:

“A popular argument for the simulation hypothesis came from University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrum in 2003, when he suggested that members of an advanced civilization with enormous computing power might decide to run simulations of their ancestors.  They would probably have the ability to run many, many such simulations, to the point where the vast majority of minds would actually be artificial ones within such simulations, rather than the original ancestral minds. So simple statistics suggest it is much more likely that we are among the simulated minds.”

“You’re not going to get proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence that we get could be simulated,” said David Chalmers, a professor of philosophy at New York University.

“If the simulation hypothesis is valid then we open the door to eternal life and resurrection and things that formally have been discussed in the realm of religion,” Gates suggested. “The reason is quite simple: If we’re programs in the computer, then as long as I have a computer that’s not damaged, I can always re-run the program.”

“Scientists and philosophers have proposed lots of other hypotheses that challenge strict materialism. They include “orchestrated objective reduction,” a quantum theory of consciousness invented by physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff; integrated information theory, which implies that consciousness suffuses the cosmos and is touted by neuroscientist Christof Koch; the reality-as-simulation hypothesis, entertained by Neil deGrasse Tyson; and the anthropic principle, which Sean Carroll espouses.”

Here are the links to the websites quoted above:

Here are additional links on this topic:   (Definitely suggest watching this one!!)

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