Could we, in fact, be living simply in a computer simulation? A research project at the University of Washington went a step beyond the Matrix and looked at the possibility of us not only living in a simulated world created around us on Earth, but a simulated universe run by our descendants.
A team of researchers claims to have come up with a test to determine whether such an assumption could be true. They based their work on a claims published in 2003, which state that at least one of three possibilities would be true:
1) The human species is likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage. 2) Any posthuman civilization is very unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history. 3) We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
Nick Bostrom, who published those beliefs, also argued that "there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation."
The UW researchers said that we ultimately would have to be able to simulate the relationship between energy and momentum in special relativity at a scale of the universe to "understand the constraints on physical processes that would indicate we are living in a computer model." The problem is that we are not even close to be able to simulate the universe. The largest supercomputers could only simulate nature "on the scale of one 100-trillionth of a meter, a little larger than the nucleus of an atom", the researchers said. Eventually we would have to simulate a "large enough chunk" of the universe to figure out whether we live in a simulation or not.