UKJester's "Simulation" Rant

Nick Bostrom's Argument (paraphrased)

Think about the following 3 points.

  1. A civilization could create a computer simulation that contains people with artificial intelligence.
  2. Such a civilization is likely run many - say billions - of these simulations (just for fun, for research, etc.)
  3. A simulated individual inside the simulation wouldn't necessarily know that it's inside a simulation - it's just going about it's daily business in what it considers to be the "real world".

If you believe that the above are at least possible, then the ultimate question is - which of the following is more likely?

A. We are the one civilization which develops AI simulations and happens not to be in one itself? Or,
B. We are one of the many (billions) of simulations that has run? (Remember point 3.)

In other words, his argument attempts to prove the trichotomy, that either:

  1. intelligent races will never reach a level of technology where they can run simulations of reality so detailed they can be mistaken for reality; or
  2. races who do reach such a level do not tend to run such simulations; or
  3. we are almost certainly living in such a simulation.