We Are Not Living in a ‘Video Game Simulation’

Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:

ScreenHunter_2027 Jun. 14 14.27Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor and amateur futurologue, has recently taken to the idea that we may all be living in a simulation akin to Second Life. He has been influenced in his thinking by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, though something of the latter's rigour has been lost as the argument is translated into a version suitable to capture the imagination of a global 'thought leader', who, in turn, is positioned to get the rest of us talking about it. Of course some of us can remember talking about it before either of these men forced it into the zeitgeist, perhaps in an informal setting where the exploratory mood was enhanced by a joint and we found ourselves starting our sentences with, “Whoah, what if, like…” But now the adventure of ideas, of which any stoner is capable, and indeed of which our ancestors millennia before the invention of video games were capable, has been given weight by the interest of an Oxford philosopher, and cachet by the derivative interest of a rich person. And now when people talk about it they will not say, “Whoah, what if, like…” and they will probably not have a joint in hand. They will soberly, straight-facedly say to their coworkers, “I read this one expert who…” or, more succinctly, “They say that…”

You do not need to be a Heideggerian to be wary of 'the they'.

It is certainly possible that we are living in a simulation, if by this we mean that things are not as they appear, that reality is not just brute stuff sitting there on its own. This is a possibility that has been contemplated in various ways by great minds for quite some time now, and that has provided fuel for the wild speculations of not-so-great minds for just as long. What is new is the way in which one manoeuvres into the appearance of expertise by doing nothing more than being very wealthy and deciding to take up the social role of a visionary. What Musk has done is to update an ancient possibility, to cause it to appear as something never-before-thought when in truth it is only a repackaging and a re-enchantment.

More here.