Richard Terrile is the Director of the Center for Evolutionary Computation and Automated Design at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. You can watch this
video to learn more about his argument that the universe is a simulation.
David Kipping is an associate professor of Astronomy at Columbia University. His research focuses on extrasolar planets, the search of life in the universe, and astrostatistics. David recently published a research paper
(a “peer-reviewed open access journal focused on principles and new discoveries in the universe”) that disproves the simulation argument using statistical methods based on Bayes’ theorem.
During the debate both Rich and David refer to Nick Bostrom, the Swedish philosopher who is the diretor of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. In 2003 he wrote an influential paper called “Are we living in a computer simulation?
” which proposes a “trilemma” in which one of three propositions is true. Bostrom argues the third proposition - that we are living in a simulation - is the most likely to be the case. You can watch Bostrom explain his trilemma here.
During the debate, David Kipping argues that according to Moore’s Law, technological evolution will soon plateau, which means we will never reach the stage of being able to create simulated worlds. You can learn more about Moore’s Law in this
MIT Technology Review article supports Kipping’s opinion that Moore’s Law is ending.
Key to Rich’s argument that we are living in a simulation is his belief that we are not far off from creating simulated consciousness. He argues that the field of evolutionary computation, which he uses in his work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is contributing enormously to our progress in developing advanced simulations. Evolutionary computing
automatically creates solutions to problems using principles based on natural evolution.
To support his argument that we are a long way from simulating conscious beings, David provides the example of the Allen Institute’s pioneering work simulating a mouse brain. It is the largest simulation of a brain to date, containing 230,000 artificial neurons, but this simulation would have to increase the number of artificial neurons by a factor of 400,000 to match a human brain. You can learn more about this experiment here