Entrepreneur and video game pioneer Rizwan "Riz" Virk talked with Connie Willis (info) about the Simulation Hypothesis, the idea that our physical reality is actually part of an increasingly sophisticated simulation. Based on his research, Virk believes, there's a good chance we're all living inside virtual reality. Just as each player in a multi-player video game—despite "existing" in the same time and place onscreen—experiences the game uniquely, Virk said, our individual real-life circumstances depend on the specific simulation we're a part of. Although the concepts of multiple simulated realities, renewed existences, and the dreamlike nature of consciousness are difficult for people in Western cultures to understand, he contended, they are not incompatible with Eastern worldviews that have incorporated these ideas into their conceptions of reality for thousands of years.
Virk offered some arguments for why we do, in fact, currently live inside a simulated reality. If we look back at the amazing technological progress that's been made just in our own lifetimes, he observed, it's logical to assume that our capabilities get exponentially more advanced in the future. In addition, he explained, a system for creating simulated realities would most likely create a huge number of them—many more than the number of actual realities. Therefore, it's more likely than not that we're a product of these factors, in the form of an almost infinite number of present-day simulations.
The possibility of multiple simulated realities could even explain paranormal phenomena and unusual events that seem to defy reality, Virk suggested: what we understand as "violations" of the rules regarding what's possible and logical may be merely instances of the infinite varieties of simulated reality.
In response to Connie's request, several listeners in the latter half of the show shared stories of their encounters with the unexplained or paranormal. Mark in Baltimore recounted his experience as an eight-year-old with a strange hairy creature he happened upon in the woods one night. Although he remembers being frozen with fear, Mark said the creature showed no aggression toward him, and even seemed innocent and harmless. Jim in Hawaii talked about an experience he also had as a child. After going over a hill while playing with a friend one day, he recalled, his environment suddenly changed, and the two boys found themselves in a battlefield setting that reminded Jim of the American Revolutionary War. When a soldier began to chase the boys, they ran back the way they had come, returning to safety in the present day.
Cindy in Massachusetts related the story of her aunt falling into a coma many years ago. When Cindy, who noted that she regularly has contact with the spirit world, spoke to the woman's husband at the hospital, he asked that Cindy pray for her aunt to leave this world. Cindy did, and her aunt passed away—but her spirit visited Cindy later that night to tell her that she forgave her uncle. In the 1980s, Andy in California worked for a security company. One night, he and another guard were called to a location where unusual activity had been reported. Upon arriving, Andy shared, the two men felt an overwhelming electromagnetic force that spun their bodies in circles. The guards never spoke of the incident again, he said.