Just like in The Matrix (1999), sometimes things we see just don’t add up to what we consider the real world. There are certain patterns in our world that seem less like a random sequence of events that we would expect life to be, and more like the work of a software developer struggling against a hard deadline. While others far more intelligent than this writer have covered the topic of simulation theory extensively, the focus of this article is to point out similarities in our lives which seem eerily similar to video games.
#1 – Personality Types and Temperaments
If you study personality types, character archetypes in literature, or have just noticed similarities between yourself and someone else, you may have noticed that a lot of people are alarmingly similar to one another despite having different upbringings. For those unaware of the topic, check out this article for a brief overview on personality types.
What’s remarkable about the science behind personality types is that if you are categorized close to another person on the spectrum, you are more likely to make the exact same decisions, a more complex version of programmed AI behavior for non-playable characters in video games. It’s ingrained within us to behave a certain way when given a specific stimulus, something that transcends language barriers. Because we are able to be categorized, we are predictable. You may think you are in control, but there are certain things that you will do every single time, when given the chance.
#2 – Reused DNA Sequencing
The building blocks of life are within every living thing – animals, plants, microscopic organisms and us. It determines so much about us before we are even born, and for better or worse it makes us who we are at a core level. It makes sense that we share a lot of DNA with animals which we are closely related to on an evolutionary level. With 99% similarity to apes, 97.5% to mice and 84% to dogs, a remarkable amount of our DNA is shared with our close relatives despite many thousands of years of evolutionary differentiation.
These numbers are not too hard to swallow for anyone who understands and believes in evolution, but did you know that humans share 40% to 60% of our DNA with bananas? With such stark differences between upright sentient mammals and the delicious yellow fruit, you would think that the sequencing would be far more different than that.
One of the key tricks of the software development trade is to reuse code whenever possible to cut down on time spent coding. If the incredibly complex world in which we live is indeed a simulation, then it would benefit a coder to reuse the building blocks whenever possible, even if it meant that by eating bacon, we are eating something that’s 98% the same as us.
#3 – Calling Old Behaviors (Code)
Depending on the circumstances of their life, a person may change much throughout their lifetime. However, even with the multitude of factors that determine things like emotional and mental health, there are certain behaviors to which we default even despite everything else that has happened.
Think about seeing an old friend, someone who you grew up with, for the first time in ten years. Notice how easy it is to become that person that you were back then, rather than the person you may believe you are today? Your mind is recalling all the experiences associated with this person, and your behavior tends to immediately revert to its old ways, even thought it can jarring in juxtaposition.
If you have ever played a game or run a software that has been around for a long time, you have to deal with legacy code in some way or another. For instance, in the game World of Warcraft, which was released 16 years ago, players can still do many things that were present in the first year, and it still behaves exactly the same way it did back then.
Sure, some of the code has been updated and the context may be different, but there are some things that have stuck around forever. The same is true for a company’s system, such as the tech giant SAP, which has software that has been around in many ways for a very long time. While new code keeps getting created as needed, some code has been around forever.
Think also about childhood trauma, and how some people still react poorly to something that happened long ago. Experiences and how to deal with them stick with us, especially in the formative years when our internal code is being written. Maybe we learned a better way to deal with it years later, but the if… then… stimulus and response behavior is still there. We are a product of our own internal coding, and we carry it with us through our lives.
Exactly like a video game.