We Are Still Not Living in a Simulation

The recent partial collapse of Facebook’s Metaverse seems a good occasion to revisit the idea that what we think is reality is in fact a “computer simulation”.

Every epoch finds itself tempted to take its shiny new tools, its latest technologies, and to hold them up not just as marvellous inventions, but as the clavis for understanding all of reality. In the seventeenth century significant advances in the horological art quickly translated into bold claims that the universe itself is a great “clockwork”. This is such an intro-level history-of-science fact that presumably even the most presentist technophile knows it, yet somehow it is still easy for some to imagine that twenty-first-century analogizing from artifice to nature holds a greater hope of transcending its historical moment than any comparable exercise of the early modern imagination.

But the fact that we always center what we value in our descriptions of reality should give at least a moment of pause to those who think they can escape history. Other venerable traditions have variously described reality as a “book”, as a “chariot”, as a “loom”, as a “temple”, as a “horse” (one likes to suppose that the most lucid representatives of these traditions always understood they were using figurative language in order to get at some profound truth).

We center what we value. In the early twenty-first century, we value computers.

Read More at Justin E. H. Smith’s Hinternet

Read the rest at Justin E. H. Smith’s Hinternet