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Mass Interaction 004: Is the Universe a Simulation?
Thu 18 May 2017, 20:00 – 21:30 BST
How is it that we know the world around us is real? After all, the only thing we have to go on is our own subjective perception. And because of this, for centuries, philosopher's and scientists have questioned whether the external world is anything but a simulation of our own minds, and more latterly, of supercomputers from the future.
It's this age-old predicament that we'll we delving into for our fourth installment of Mass Interaction as we question the very fabric of existence; Is our external reality really real? Or could we just be 'brains in a vat' stimulated to experience it as so? And ultimately - how will we ever know?
Taking us down this rabbit hole will be The Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University's Dr Anders Sandberg, an explorer of simulations, brain emulations, and right-hand man to Nick Bostrom of 'The Simulation Argument' fame. And joining him to help us explore the more philosophical aspects of the various versions of the 'Simulation Hypothesis' - as well as the basic neuroscience of perception - will be philosopher of mind and cognitive neuroscience from the University of London, Dr Ophelia Deroy.
"The line between perceiving and hallucinating is not as crisp as we like to think. In a sense, when we look at the world, we are hallucinating all the time. One could almost regard perception as the act of choosing the one hallucination that best fits the incoming data.” - V.S Ramachandran
Mass Interaction is...
A play on one of the fathers of Quantum Mechanics, Richard Feynman's, quote - "All Mass is interaction" - this new, bi-monthly event aims to bring science to the forefront in interesting and accessible ways. Curated and presented by science journalist Max Sanderson (The Guardian, Huffington Post, Radio Wolfgang, The Battle of Ideas), each event will take a complex and mysterious scientific concept, and attempt to unpick it in a relaxed, informal, and interview-based setting.
The Airspace on Oxford Street will provide the setting for this two-way conversation, which will encourage participation from an interested, but non-specialist audience. This includes a free drinks reception following the event for attendees and speakers, offering a chance to further engage in debate.