If you keep up with pop-science at all, then you’ve probably encountered the whole “string theory” hypothesis, or the notion that we’re living in a hologram or inside the database of a giant computer, like in The Matrix. It’s one of those theories that doesn’t actually make much of a difference in our daily lives if we can’t prove it. We might as well just go on with our lives as usual, right? But, that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun to think about. If someone could prove that we’re all living in a game of The Sims, what would the implications be?
Crime and punishment is one area where things might change considerably. If we could prove that we were all living in a simulation, would crime really be that big a deal? Stealing a car would be about as serious a crime as cheating in a game of Overwatch. Likewise, sending someone to prison wouldn’t be that big of a deal, either.
Online video games like Titanfall punish cheaters in a fairly clever way, by sending them to play in servers populated entirely with other cheaters. If we were living in a simulation, we could just send criminals to another server where every time they steal a car, it gets stolen from them the minute they park it. We’ll play The Sims, let them have their Grand Theft Auto.
The simulation hypothesis dates back at least as far as “Maya,” an Indian concept through which one might look at life as a series of illusions that might as well be concrete and real. In any event, while movies like The Matrix might see a digital landscape as a prison, you have to admit, it would take a lot of the pressure off of our daily affairs at work and at home, wouldn’t it?