Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.
The claims have been afforded some credence by repetition by luminaries no less esteemed than Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of Hayden Planetarium and America’s favorite science popularizer. Yet there have been skeptics. Physicist Frank Wilczek has argued that there’s too much wasted complexity in our universe for it to be simulated. Building complexity requires energy and time. Why would a conscious, intelligent designer of realities waste so many resources into making our world more complex than it needs to be? It’s a hypothetical question, but still may be needed.: Others, such as physicist and science communicator Sabine Hossenfelder, have argued that the question is not scientific anyway. Since the simulation hypothesis does not arrive at a falsifiable prediction, we can’t really test or disprove it, and hence it’s not worth seriously investigating.