Question of the week: How do we know that our lives are not some kind of sophisticated computer simulation? Could it be like the movie, The Matrix?
My answer: This question is not unique to our high-tech world. For the past two millennia gnostics and religious cults with gnostic roots have claimed that our physical lives and physical experiences are illusions. For people who believe this, one way to persuade them otherwise that I definitely do not recommend, is to punch them in a sensitive spot hard enough that it leaves a bruise and then ask them if the resultant pain and bruise are mere illusions. A kinder response that I highly recommend is to present them with the evidence for human free will. If our free will is real, and not programmed or predictable, then we are not automatons in a computer simulation.
What is this evidence? First, there are the abundant observations that human behavior is not predictable. If it was, then anyone could get very rich on the stock market and consistently predict political election outcomes. Second, there are the attempts by our most intelligent and skilled computer programmers to develop a truly artificially intelligent machine. A truly artificially intelligent machine would not only include self-learning and self-teaching software, it would manifest real free will real emotions, and a capability of forming personal relationships. Real progress is being achieved at improving the self-learning, self-corrective capabilities of computers. However, there has been no measurable progress on creating a machine with conscious free will. The fundamental reason why is that the conscious free will that every human being possesses is not physical. It does not have its origin in physics and chemistry. It is spiritual. It is our spiritual nature that makes humans different from all other life on Earth. It is our spiritual nature that proves that we are not part of a computer simulation.
My favorite quote from the community of scientists working on artificial intelligence is, “We are ten years away from making an artificially intelligent robot and always will be.” Or, to paraphrase from The Matrix, the pursuit of true artificial intelligence is like taking the blue pill. We are always better off choosing the red pill.