Elon Musk among others brings some meta-statistical argument to show that we are more likely to be in a simulation than not; that we are most definitely not flesh, but words made flesh.
I don’t know how we can take someone’s word seriously, whose self is just an avatar in a simulation. That someone want to colonize Mars merely does not give more validity to their words, especially when they’re themselves made of words!
So what he is popularizing is given credit to the philosophers Nick Bostrom (2003) and Hans Moravec (1998) earlier. And I have found modern instances as old as Alan Watts (1972) expressing the same argument (here as the first fantasy out of three).
Transcending yourself, your simulators and theirs!
Whoever said it first, what matters is who did it first!
Saying that our bodies are not hardware and is instead of the sort of information/software is probably an unfalsifiable claim. It is like placing an object next to its meta level of existence and yet comparing them as two similar things. It is paradoxical like Russel’s antinomy that deals with a type of whether a set can be a member of itself or not. And in my opinion is as valid as saint Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological argument to prove God, brought a thousand years ago.
But well, if we are in a simulation and we can one day prove it, then we have understood things about those who programmed us. So why not continuing to extrapolate the transcendental cascade to know things about those who programmed them? And may be even hinting our simulators that they may be in a simulation too, and in what kind of simulation even.
Maybe that’s why they simulated us…
How to find out? With a simulation may be. Like program something that could tell us what’s going on beyond us and here’s the catch: beyond our creators and also their simulator!
A cascade of interventionist Gods
Now a deeper philosophical question is not whether we are in a simulation. As it can be interpreted differently based upon the definition of the God/simulator and is an unfalsifiable claim, a matter of faith. The more interesting question is, assuming that we are in a form of a simulation, is our creator an interventionist e onor not! i.e. Whether we are in a supervised simulation that changes sometimes based on how we act (are there miracles?), or alternatively we are just given a bunch of rigid rules and then left alone to compute.
Which itself boils down to whether our simulators are supervised by their intervening God or not.
If our creators are interventionist, how about their Gods? An interventionist God may be beyond us and so appear to us as having free will but for those who made that creature, itself could only be a type of abandoned code left to go down its own path. That cascade logically never ends.
Opening this discussion, there can be follow-up questions:
What kind of simulation are we in? What are its boundaries and limits compared to our regular man-made type of simulations? Are we in a familiar type of simulation; say a huge multi-threaded discrete finite algorithm? Or could it be fundamentally more complex than our currently familiar notion of algorithmic computation, a simulating program?
If we are role playing in a discrete and finite type of computation, then a full history of space-time can be given in a humongous binary file or technically a large integer on the tape of a Turing machine. And then we are some chunks of information on it; enumerable combination of finite symbols rendered locally or globally frame by frame, discretely in time (basic notions known in complexity of computation).
And in that scenario, will that universal machine even differs if a tree falls in a forest but no one is around to hear it? Will there be a sound calculated when there’s no ear? Or is it more likely (and efficient) for that simulation to go only as far as the observer goes?