Over the years, some science fiction has popularized the notion that our world might not be what it seems -- that we might all be living in the Matrix (to use perhaps the most well-known version of the concept).
In the past decade, philosophers and physicists have started to take the idea a bit more seriously, led by philosopher Nick Bostrom, who first published his paper "Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" in Philosophical Quarterly in 2003. Basically, Bostrom argues that the exponential growth of computing power seems to indicate that one day we'll be able to create a digital simulation of our entire universe. There's also no reason to think multiple simulations wouldn't be created once the capability is there.
So...we're either living in the only real universe just on the verge of being able to create a simulation of its historical self, or we're in one of what could be a multitude of computer simulations. When we look at it this way, it would almost seem that the existential odds are against our actually existing.… Read more