Are we living in a simulation?
With the evident success of computer technologies this question raises more and more frequently.
Tech people mostly agree that this is a possible scenario, it could even be that we live in multiple layers of simulations - a simulation that runs in another simulation and so on.
While there is probably no way to disprove this hypothesis I argue that believing in such thing has a negative psychological effect on an individual and a society in general.
What do we mean by simulation?
In a process of simulation we are trying to model and imitate some real phenomena with the purpose of predicting or imposing future outcomes. An imitation is generally much cheaper to perform than a real process. So we can try a lot of different scenarios to find the best strategy before implementing it in reality.
It can be a computer modeling of a physical process or experiment. A repetition of some upcoming performance. Or even a thought process when we try to imagine a tree of possible events and our possible responses.
Virtual reality or a computer game also can be considered as a simulation since we model some elements of our real world (with some fictional elements, though) in a controllable and cheaper environment.
In general, all simulations are irrelevant when the best strategy is found.
But observe that in any case simulation is still part of reality. Every completed game, no matter how useless it was, is still part of our world. And due to the butterfly effect every tiny event can have a huge impact in the future.
So, a simulation is always real, even if it predates the real action. It’s just way less important.
Why would we prefer to think that we live in a less important world?
The simple answer is — people tend to downgrade what they see if they don’t like that. An irresponsible and childish person became a president of a powerful country? A girl has to tell world leaders what to do with the Earth’s climate? No, this doesn’t imply that we live in some kind of game, or a part of a show. There are explanations and they are real. We just don’t know or understand them.
Another reason could be that the world became so big and interconnected that we feel ourselves in much less control. There are too much information, too many factors, too many actors. Also, the pace of change is not making us more certain about the future. The world is less predictable than ever today.
Finally, downgrading reality is a psychological way to flee from our responsibilities in life. Why bother to do something if everything is not important?
The effects of such belief
Believing that the world is just a simulation implies that we, our feelings and our actions are not that important either.
The is a huge amplifier of depression if a person has already lost their sense and purpose in life. Or this could be an excuse to live a meaningless life.
Now imagine that you live in a society that thinks the world around is not that important, including you, obviously. You could be an NPC (non-player character) in this game, after all. Just an AI script that is written by a programmer from the true world. Would you like to live in such community?
Do not downgrade the reality of what you see simply because you don’t like it, don’t understand or don’t control it. All your actions, your feelings, your views and your life in general are matter, as well as the life of others.