The Times: Professor Sir Martin Rees is to suggest that "life, the
universe and everything" may be no more than a giant computer
simulation with humans reduced to bits of software. Rees, Royal
Society professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, will say that
it is now possible to conceive of computers so powerful that they
could build an entire virtual universe.
The possibility that what we see around us may not actually exist has
been raised by philosophers many times dating back to the ancient
Greeks and appears repeatedly in science fiction.
In a television documentary, What We Still Don't Know, to be screened
on Channel 4 next month, he will say: "Over a few decades, computers
have evolved from being able to simulate only very simple patterns to
being able to create virtual worlds with a lot of detail.
"If that trend were to continue, then we can imagine computers which
will be able to simulate worlds perhaps even as complicated as the one
we think we're living in.
"This raises the philosophical question: could we ourselves be in such
a simulation and could what we think is the universe be some sort of
vault of heaven rather than the real thing. In a sense we could be
ourselves the creations within this simulation."