As the human brain is a rather simple thing, we’re naturally drawn to simple ideas. As analogies offer simplicity (at the expense of validity) we very often analogize even when we’re unaware of the fact. Back when Babbage developed his mechanical Difference Engine, it naturally spawned tiresome comparisons with the human brain. When electricity came into regular use, people naturally analogized and famously Mary Wollstonecraft wrote a rather good book using this new form of energy as the deus ex machina. Since the age of computers, people have been making all sorts of tedious analogies with our new whizzy technology. But the real question to ask is: why bother?

Science, as opposed to the banal musings of philosophy, arises from observation. When there’s nothing to observe, idle speculation is pointless. It’s like religion: I could choose to believe in any one of countless silly things, but why bother? Only if there was some credible indication of a real-world phenomenon would it be worth investigating further. Everything else is merely mental masturbation: pleasing to the practitioner but of no value to anyone aside from them. So we can forget about the “simulated universe” idea purely because of the fact that there’s nothing in the real world to suggest it’s a useful hypothesis, it’s clearly just the latest in a long line of false analogies, and there are far more interesting things to be getting on with.

No one today is remotely interested in how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or whether a “pure” vessel is contaminated when water is poured from it into an “impure” pot. We likewise should not be remotely interested in other forms of empty nonsense regardless of whether or not they’re dressed up in quasi-contemporary garb.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.