Hey Bill Nye! Is "We Are Living in a Computer Simulation" a Testable Hypothesis?

When we asked Bill Nye the Science Guy if he thinks we are living in a computer-generated simulation, he turned to some basic scientific principles to justify his answer.

Bill Nye:  So are we living in a videogame? Are we actually part of a giant simulation? I don’t think you can know. I think you can argue that whoever has written the simulation, whatever super entity has written the simulation could make it so sophisticated that even your memories are a result of this being programmed by the simulator or simulatrix. So the question is at some level irrelevant but another level I think we would have to agree it’s unknowable. You can just presume any level of sophistication that makes it undetectable to us. With that said there have been a lot of science fiction stories where people discover that they’re living in a dome or inside a hollow world or underground and the metaphors for this are from our everyday experience. You hear about kids who have been kidnapped and kept in a room until they’re 14 and they know nothing of the world outside. And the human mind apparently at some level is uncapable of detecting that outside world unless something goes wrong. For me as a philosopher to prove that we’re living in a videogame is an extraordinary level of effort. But if you can do it bring it on. But it seems to me it’s a hard question to resolve because it’s easy to imagine a game designer, a simulation designer making it so sophisticated that you can’t tell. Good luck out there.

Are we living in a holographic simulation created by a supercomputer beyond our comprehension? That question occurs again and again in science fiction, perhaps most notably in The Matrix, a film in which unreality is so pristine that no one notices the truth. That we are all actually, truly living in such a matrix seems laughable until you consider the advances made by video games in the last few decades.


Not long ago, all we had was pong: two rectangles and a circle. Today we have virtual reality consoles which are edging toward an experience indistinguishable from reality, or at least what we think of as reality. Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX cofounder, was recently asked this question: Is it possible that the world as we know it is just a simulation made by someone else?

His response is perhaps startling, saying that the chances of this reality being a "base" reality are "one in billions." To make matters even more confusing, humans are increasingly turning to virtual reality devices to escape this "reality." Thorsten Wiedemann, for example, spent forty-eight hours wearing his Oculus Rift device, proving it is possible to live within a virtual reality at least for a short time.

When we asked Bill Nye the Science Guy if he thinks we are living in a computer-generated simulation, he turned to some basic scientific principles to justify his answer. Science ultimately demands testable, repeatable hypotheses to proceed, but how do you test whether we are living in a computer simulation or not? There just doesn't seem to be a way.

There is every possibility that this is a hyper-real version of The Sims, and we wouldn’t know. If we had never seen the outside world, there’s no reason we would know it exists, that we’re missing it. So if we as a people had only ever existed in this hyper real video game, we wouldn’t know it was all just a game.

That is why it is "unknowable," according to Bill Nye. If we were in a video game, human minds would not be able to detect the outside world until "something goes wrong," i.e. a glitch in the matrix. Still, Nye wishes luck to anyone wanting to design such an experiment. It might take some time, but perhaps could be done...

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Robot pizza delivery coming later this year from Domino's

The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.

Nuro
Technology & Innovation
  • Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
  • The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
  • The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.

Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.

The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.

Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.

Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.

What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.

For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.

Check out how Nuro's vehicles work: