Back in 1985 there was an episode of the New Twilight Zone called “Dreams for Sale.” I had seen it, remembered it wrong for a few years, and then wrote a story fragment based on it.
My story fragment had to due with a man who was fed up with his life, went to Tibet, had himself locked in a meditation cave, and then meditated on the nature of reality. This meditation led him to a point of raised consciousness and made some pretty funky things happen. For one, the cave disappeared and the man found himself laying on a bed with wires connected to him.
After disconnecting the wires and wandering around for a while, he made contact with a computer which explained to him that he, and several million other people, was on a gigantic spaceship. The Earth had suffered some great cataclysm and the plan was to colonize another world with as many people as possible. Since space travel still wasn’t up to Star Trek or Star Wars standards, it would take time so people were put into suspended animation and hooked up to a computer. The computer would network everyone together into a common world so they could all interact together. For the purpose of keeping everyone sane, nobody was allowed to know what was going on so their memories were wiped. And, since the trip was going to take a very long time, when people died in the computer they were re-incarnated. The computer started at the dawn of known history and worked up until the Earth cataclysm. It then would start over. This cycle had happened several times.
The man was then placed back into a sleeping chamber and re-joined the world, with his memory wiped, at a point before he went to Tibet.
This, I thought, neatly explained some questions of today. It explained reincarnation, the “cycle” of history that the Hindu religion speaks of, and some claims of déjà vu.
My pride requests that I mention that I wrote this long before The Matrix was released.
Today, I ran across a paper that puts forth the idea that we may, indeed, be living in a computer simulation. I haven’t had a chance to do an in-depth read, but from what I glanced it appears that the author, Nick Bostrom, has the same ideas I do but with a lot more math and stuff.
Since I do a lot of thinking about useless things I still wonder what would be possible if we were all living in a computer simulation. Namely, would it be possible to change your life or the past? Most software has bugs in it, could the universe we live in also have bugs that could be exploited to our advantage?
For instance, people often say that positive thinking influences your life (as does negative). Have you ever read about that thing you do where everyday you write down a life affirming sentence and it ends up coming true? Like, if you write, “I, Mr Entropy, will win the Lotto next Thursday” a hundred times a day, every day, then you could win the lottery. Or if a bunch of people pray for granddad to be healed of his gout. Or if a bunch of kids spend Sunday night falling asleep to the idea that a massive snow storm will hit that night and school will be canceled for Monday.
I had a friend, once, who maintained that more and more sub-atomic particles were being found not because theories said they should exist, but because scientists believed so much that they should be there that they popped into existence when they were looked for.
Could a bunch of minds, concentrated on one idea, influence reality? Maybe not if we lived in a real, physical, universe but if we lived in a simulation with a few bugs I’d bet that it’s a lot more plausible.