We live in our simulations

Elon Musk’s  claim that we are probably in a simulated reality created quite a flurry.

However, we do live in simulations. Not just one, but multiple simulations. I live in my simulation and you live in yours. A conservative person has her own simulation. So does an ardent Hindutva follower. Scientists, climate change deniers and so on, each a unique simulation. Isn’t that the reason we all experience the same reality, interpret it differently and are constantly at each others’ throats?

This fact becomes easier to digest if we question the nature of our reality. The physical world is simulated by our sense organs to manifest as sight, sound and smell, which we believe with unshakeable conviction. Hence, a blind person believes in a different world from the rest of us. An eagle believes in a different world from the rabbit that it seeks out in the canyon below. We are hard-wired to do so – our survival has depended upon it for eons.

What is more? These simulations are further distorted by our conditioning – a set of beliefs that are unique to our circumstances. As a result, our reaction to various situations are automatic, even if our reasoning is not. We express these reasons using language, which is a 10,000 year tool for expressing sensations that are 4 billion years old. The result is a hastily drawn sketch of a photograph taken in low lighting, with poor focus and using an old lens. The only thing that unites us is the strength of our conviction.

Richard Feynman talked about how the first principle was not to fool yourself, knowing that you are the easiest person to fool. In Feynman’s spirit, I strive to trust my own simulation lesser. The corollary – to learn to acknowledge the simulations of other people more.

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