2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?

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What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, hosts and moderates a panel of experts in a lively discussion about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative and revolutionary idea. The 17th annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate took place at The American Museum of Natural History on April 5, 2016.

2016 Asimov Panelists:

David Chalmers
Professor of philosophy, New York University

Zohreh Davoudi
Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James Gates 
Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland

Lisa Randall
Theoretical physicist, Harvard University

Max Tegmark 
Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History.  In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate — generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work — bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery.  Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.

2017 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: De-Extinction

2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?

2015 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Water, Water

2014 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Selling Space

2013 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Existence of Nothing

2012 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Faster Than the Speed of Light

2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Theory of Everything

Rose Center Anniversary Isaac Asimov Debate: Is Earth Unique?

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Alexander Colon says:

When you wear sunglasses, you're stoned

Alexander Colon says:

I caught Neil looking at that woman's legs. But I admit, I was looking too, she's an attractive nerd.

Doug Golden says:

The Matrix: Debated.

Joseph Shatrowsky says:

I don’t like the argument because we have never created a simulation as complex as the universe, we dont even know where the limits of computing power stops. It’s stupid to give any percentage for its possibility.

8bitmagic says:

1:52:00 IN MY OPINION if saying nothing were to arise it would be infinitely small and imperceptible so out of pure probability eventually something would exist

BO NES says:

It always amazes me how people think themselves as so smart or superior. The ego's flying just show how terribly stupid some are. People in important places with important jobs are pretty much what you can get from Hippy Day Care. No different than the many who are watching. They are defiant in the belief of God or block God out completely. We are being manipulated by a force that makes human beings play a bizarre game in the deception. Lets figure out who and what that force is. I would bet that force knows all or most the answers to these questions.

Simon Johnston says:

Degrasi is so insecure that the other people on the stage are smarter, he feels the need to make jokes about them & put them down, doing this is a typical sign of big ego low self esteem. If someone puts someone into a less than it automatically put him into a greater than.

Simon Johnston says:

Lol, look at the narcissist Neil’s degrasi, as soon as anyone else starts talking he almost looks pissed that he is not the center of attention. Lol. They need a infinite simulation just for his ego.

Jaco Stadler says:

A simulation needs an intelligent agent, the simulator, that designed the simulation, doesn't it? Or did the simulation design itself, from nothing?
And even if we say an ancient super race (or a universe 'up') put the code and quantum computing power together to simulate this universe, where did that race come from? Another super- or hyper simulation? This is just an infinite regress.
For me it leads, logically, to a Master Simulation Designer.

Deport Globalists To Madagascar says:

Max is nervous because Zohreh is sitting next to him and he has a crush on her.

zeo1chris says:

This reminds me of my favorite movie quote " Fifteen hundred years ago Everyone knew the Earth was the center of the universe, Five hundred years ago, Everybody knew the Earth was flat, and Fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet.. imagine what you'll know, tomorrow."

Beedy KH says:

Bring Rick and Morty, I am sure they can solve all your problems.

Brian Baldino says:

If they are all professionals why don't they all agree with each other.

Ne0mega says:

As computers become aware they are a simulation, so to, do we. Welcome to the singularity.

Brian Daniel says:

I'd like to watch this but I don't think I could handle 2 hours of Neil flapping his gums and interrupting greater minds to boil their words down into his lower level of understanding. His mocking and joking as he constantly interrupts doesn't help the average person to understand it only keeps the current model of reality in a appearance of being the only correct model. They need shills like neil to keep the true reality hidden from 98% of people or they world loose control

Appleblade says:

Oy. That chick on the far right just keeps going on and on. Her comments only apply to the question, 'are we living in a badly constructed simulation?' Obviously, if we're living in a good simulation, nothing in it will ever reveal its character as a simulation. Also, all the reasoning in the world won't help you discover anything because your "brain" isn't calling up thoughts for you, the simulators are, and so whatever you're capable of thinking is provided by the programmers. It's not that hard to see that there's just no way to preclude the possibility we're, you're, I'm in a simulation, and also that the simulation might be a computer program, or the mind of God, or just some powerful beings mind. Also, memory might be a complete illusion, and we've only existed for a few seconds and have never even thought about the possibility of a simulation … it just feels like we've been reasoning about it for hours.

Cal of TR Kaos says:

Was the first question asked by Matt Patt?

Gerardo Godoy says:

You need to go to a good church, If you can fine one that is not dead.

Gerardo Godoy says:

God, lives in a spiritual dimension not in the matter realm,so you can not communicate with God, unless you seek him in the spirit.

Gerardo Godoy says:

john 3:3-8 you can not see or enter the kingdom of God unless you are born of the spirit, knows as being born again.

James JAH Avey says:

How is it possible to educate people who love stupid and think knowing what is right is boring?

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