Technologistic thinking is trendy among intellectuals, but it’s wholly a cultural artifact, and technologistic thinking is responsible for the idea that we may be living in a simulation.
The theory goes that there are likely a plethora of civilizations out there with technology advanced enough to simulate countless artificial universes for whatever purposes, and that therefore, since there are many simulated universes in existence and only one real universe, the chances are much greater that we’re in a simulated one.
The reason for said likelihood is that the universe is known to be an unfathomably large place, with probably around 700,000,000,000,000,000,000 exoplanets in the observable part of the universe alone, so it’s exceedingly likely that some of those planets have just the right conditions for life to evolve like Earth does, and out of those on which life evolved, at least some of them probably evolved an intelligent species, and out of those intelligent species, some have probably developed technological civilization. The number of civilizations likely in the universe is even (very tentatively) estimated by the Drake equation.
Our technological revolution started only about a couple hundred years ago, and our technology has advanced explosively since then, so, theoretically, it’s likely that most technological civilizations have been around for much longer and their technology is much more advanced.
But I’d argue that the plethora of more advanced civilization out there don’t rely on very sophisticated technology, extreme processing or the extreme energy use that goes with it. (For the same reason, I’d argue that Dyson spheres aren’t and never will really be a thing, and neither is the Kardashev scale of technological advancement.)
We’re currently in a highly technological phase of cultural development, and, naturally, we project our current culture onto other beings we imagine to exist elsewhere (including not only our technologism but also our barbarism, which is why we have the ill-founded fear being taken over by an alien civilization), so we believe that advancing as a species involves creating more and more advanced and complex technology indefinitely.
This is not the case. More-highly advanced species, if they ever go through a highly technological phase, eventually realize that it doesn’t truly serve them.
The very reason we look so hopefully into the technological future is that we’re not happy or content now, and the reason we’re not happy and content now is that we’re immersed in industry and technology.
A Native American chief whose name I don’t remember (I can’t find the reference) said that white men appeared “mad,” like we’re always frantically looking for something that’s either somewhere else or in the future, instead of just being at peace with ourselves in the here and now.
Here’s an excerpt from a Cracked.com article on the founding of America:
Settlers defecting to join native society was so common that it became a major issue for colonial leaders — think the modern immigration debate, except with all the white people risking their lives to get out of American society. According to Loewen, “Europeans were always trying to stop the outflow. Hernando De Soto had to post guards to keep his men and women from defecting to Native societies.” Pilgrims were so scared of Indian influence that they outlawed the wearing of long hair.
Ben Franklin noted that, “No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.” While “always bet on black” might have been sound financial advice by the time Wesley Snipes offered it, Ben Franklin knew that for much of American history, it was equally advisable to bet on red.
Franklin wasn’t pointing this out as a critique of the settlers who defected — he believed that Indian societies provided greater opportunities for happiness than European cultures — and he wasn’t the only Founding Father who thought settlers could learn a thing or two from them.
So if the Native Americans, a tribal society living practically in the state of nature, were happier than white men, what does that say for all of our vastly superior technology and domestication?
The difference between our society and a much more advanced society is that we have yet to figure out that proliferation of complex technology is not a measure of success. An interesting and intelligent blog on the subject of civilization versus pre-civilization can be found here.
The trajectory of a successful society is not toward more and more expenditure of resources, but rather remaining in harmony with nature while spiritually evolving to the point where there is no conflict.
But since most of the above is just, like, my opinion, man, here are two more-analytical arguments against the idea that we’re living in a simulation:
- If the universe were a simulation, it could house no consciousness, so there would be no conscious beings such as you and me in that universe to wonder if it’s a simulation. This is because an algorithm can’t be conscious, as I showed with two separate arguments in my previous essay.
Incidentally, a simulated universe would be useless to a technologically super-advanced civilization because it could not properly simulate intelligent beings and societies general intelligence requires consciousness, as argued in my previous essay. It probably couldn’t properly simulate anything in the universe since consciousness pervades the universe, but that’s just, like, my opinion, man (though I did argue in my previous essay that quantum randomness must be the liaison between consciousness and the mechanics of the brain, and quantum randomness does pervade the universe).
- The idea of a universe outside ours (and probably much bigger than ours, in order to have a computer big enough to simulate ours and many other universes) clearly violates Occam’s razor, at least in the absence of some damn good evidence for it, which we don’t have.
So there you have it. Stop being lost in Aspergian, mental-masturbatory, technologistical thinking. Be one with nature. The universe is not a program. It’s Nature itself, in all its magic and glory.