Simulations and Illusions

Simulation is the buzz word of the day in popular science magazines, of nascent and tenured philosophers and established scientists. Even popular figures like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are proclaiming that we may very well be living in a simulation(s) of our far out descendants, as mere players in an elaborate game orchestrated by futuristic brains.

All that we think as the present, is then a sham, a fantasy, of the future.

Back in 2003, Nick Bostram published a paper in which he postulated that if the human race survives long enough, it is very capable of running a significant number of simulations. If that were true, it would be hard to distinguish past, present and future on the timeline as multiple simulations intersect and interact.

So, the question is – are we in a simulation or is this all for real??

We are most definitely living a simulation. But this simulation is the brainchild not of some super powered ultra brainy futuristic descendent or of aliens, but of our very own minds, here and now.

Yes, here and now. We are the both creators and players in this simulation called life.

Even before the dawn of the so called conscious mind, emotions have shaped life’s perception of itself. Consider the pet dog, eagerly awaiting its human companion. It runs to the door, barks, jumps up and down by the window, perhaps imagining the human walking in, perhaps not. We will never know, but what we can fathom is that this is perhaps the beginning of ‘anticipatory emotions’. In essence a longing for a distinct set of events in the future. The conscious mind, of course spins various what if scenarios, simulating if you will, a series of futuristic possibilities. The action taken now, in the present, then determining the future course of events. Deciding to play a video game today instead of studying for an exam, sealing the kid’s fate at McDonalds and not at the choice grad school perhaps.

Add layers of emotions and intra personnel conflict and things get more interesting. We get angry, fling insults, imagine intentions and deceptions, profess love and devotion, and in short, get so intertwined in the drama we paint with our emotions that we forget that all this is all but a grand opera, at times fun, at times tragic, and at all times entertaining. An opera all the same, that infuses us with vigor, enthusiasm, grief, guilt, ambition, desire and a desire to live, more!

From the moment we are born, we spin this web around ourselves. For starters, we begin playing the ‘role’ assigned to us, the identity we are born with – the child of such and such, with such and such attributes…We learn to relate to people from the people around us, learn to eat, even think as the people around us or  like the books we read or things we watch. We are molded. We develop ambitions, desires, love, hatred and these shape our actions in this grand play. And the more we get into this ‘play’ the more distant we get from our naked selves.

But then one might ask, aren’t we born in certain coordinates beyond ‘our’ control? That is if we think just us as in this one body is ‘us’. what if we thought of ourselves as the entire cosmos? WE are the entire cosmos, I am you, you are me, I am everything and this conscious little body that I call me is just that, a conscious blimp, that I restrict to my conception of self, but in reality I am All.

We somehow associate the self only to conscious acts – those that we are actually aware of. However, this simulated world is not self inflicted by the ‘conscious’ me but by my sub conscious.

The mind began on this journey of simulated existence complete with a creator, who ostensibly created everything, a set of morals to make sure everyone played their roles and even somewhat frightening consequences if they did not. Some imaginative minds spun benevolent gods who gave favors if one was good and others created malicious ones that decreed death to all but themselves.

The minds forgot that Life, at its very core is but a series of chemical interactions aimed at sustaining and propagating itself, period. Going to grad school, falling in love, waging war, but mere accessories, that die with the death of the life form, each with no significance before or after. Even their significance during the lifetime is but limited to within the drama itself. Does it matter to the cosmos if we drove a Maserati today, became a CEO or if we even did figure out a universal theory? The cycle of life goes on, no matter which way we spin our realities.

And the more we get into this so called reality that we spin around ourselves, the farther we get from figuring it all out. Our identities merge more and more with the persona and ‘life’ we create for ourselves until we stand clothed in multitudes of identities, mired in the branches of the fractal…entrapped in the trappings of ‘everyday’ life.

All that we think as the present, is but a sham, a fantasy, of our minds. And therefore is the past and the future. We are but living a simulation after all. A gloriously intricate, intriguing simulation. But a simulation, nevertheless.

Leave a Reply