Virtual Reality (VR) is not just for video games. Researchers use it in studies of brains from all kinds of animals: bees, fish, rats and, of course, humans. Sadly

Can virtual reality advances to a point where we can’t tell what is real and what is not?

I’ve thought a lot about this. Too much, really.

I am going to offer the best logical process I can think of that says simulation hypothesis is, in fact, false.

So the answer, technically, is no.

Here’s why.

When you decide to simulate an entire universe to perfection, you actually need a computer the size of the universe. This is because each particle takes a lot of calculations to describe perfectly, and the interactions even between atoms quickly grow to be massively complex.

But to simulate so many atoms… that is quite something. It’s easier simply to let the particles exist independently outside of a computer.

If we keep scaling down and finding that the particles at the bottom are truly complex objects made of more complex objects with complex rules (quantum mechanics) then simulation hypothesis as we know it is impossible.

To accurately simulate that many particles is impossible without a computer the size of the universe.

In VR, this is similar. However, I’d like to point something out that took me a few hours to realize and made me delete a lot of this answer:

Dreams.

When we dream, we think that the dream is perfectly real. We act similarly in dreams to how we would in real life. Dreams are a bit like our own personal simulation, and they fill me with wonder when I experience them.

Creating dream worlds in VR would do the exact same thing. Your brain isn’t simulating millions of atoms. Your brain is only simulating imagery, even if it is vivid imagery at that.

The imagery in dreams isn’t very detailed, however. If you look at your hand and see the tiny lines across them, then you aren’t dreaming. In fact, this is a proven way to figure out whether you’re dreaming.

So the probabilities are in your favor. According to what we currently know, there is little chance that we are truly living in a simulation, because if we’re in a simulation, then the people simulating us are in a simulation.

And that means that there must be an increasingly powerful computer to simulate all these computers doing the simulations.

Conclusion?

You are real.

So I’d like you to look really carefully at your hand. See the lines that show you that you are (probably) real. Take a microscope and look at tiny cells. Look around you. See how beautiful and how detailed the world truly is.

You’re alive. You’re real.

And that… is a beautiful thing.