The Lowest Bid Universe

Dr. Caleb A. Scharf, Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, argues that if reality is manufactured it’s time to lodge some complaints.

There are philosophically motivated arguments that perhaps our universe is the result of experimentation or deliberate simulation. Maybe it was born in a super-powerful particle accelerator out of something like an inflating, energetic monopole, or in a hugely advanced quantum computer capable of modeling an entire cosmos of atoms and photons.

There are even arguments for why it is actually quite likely for us to be ‘inside’ such a simulation (where ‘quite likely’ is philosopher-speak for ‘who knows, but it’s good for the lecture circuit’). Specifically, even if only a very few species are sophisticated enough to construct a universe simulation, they might end up running huge numbers of such simulations. Perhaps to explore the lives of their ancestors, or perhaps to show off to the neighbors.

In all cases, the consequence of there being vast numbers of simulated realities would be that it is far more likely that you are simulated than real – it’s just a numbers game. Indeed, since we are not yet technologically sophisticated enough to build such models the odds may be even greater that we are in fact a simulated ancestor species.

But whether this is a simulation, or a bona-fide physical reality produced by someone’s laboratory tinkering, an important question is raised.

That is: why aren’t things a bit better?

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