Why Reality Is Not A Video Game — And Why It Matters

Marcelo Gleiser at NPR:

ScreenHunter_2627 Mar. 16 17.10Last week, Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker published a satirical essay, in which he wondered whether the strange reality we live in could be some kind of computer game played by an advanced intelligence (us in the future or alien).

His point was that if it is, the "programmers" are messing up, given the absurdity of current events: the incredible faux-pas at the Oscars, where the wrong best picture was announced; Donald Trump, the most outsider president ever elected in U.S. history; the strange comeback by the New England Patriots at the Super Bowl. These events, claims Gopnik, are not just weird; they point to a glitch in the "Matrix," the program that runs us all.

For most people trying to make a living, pay bills or fighting an illness, to spend time considering that our reality is not the "real thing" but actually a highly-sophisticated simulation sounds ridiculous. Someone close to me said, "I wish smart people would focus on real world problems and not on this nonsense." I confess that despite being a scientist that uses simulations in my research, I tend to sympathize with this. To blame the current mess on powers beyond us sounds like a major cop out. It's like the older brother framing the younger one for the broken window. "He threw the ball!" Not our fault, not our responsibility, "they" are doing this to us.

Of course, philosophers consider such questions because they are interesting and raise points about the nature of reality and our perception of it.

More here.