Dust Theory

Faking Reality

Consciousness (whatever the hell it is) is created by the pattern of neurons firing in our brain. As time elapses, the neuron firing propagates through your brain. At each time frame, the state of the neurons changes with respect to the previous time frame.  The current state is a function of the previous state and the additional sensory-input neurons.  Without novel input (from your senses), the existing neuron firing pattern would eventually diminish to nothing, similar to an echo in a canyon.  If consciousness were to be simulated by a computer system, the computer (a digital machine) would have to replicate the brain in discrete frames of time.  At real time t the simulated brain would be in state a.  Some real time later (t+n), the computer would finish its computation and store the neurons in state b.  Whether n is a nano-second or a week, the simulated brain would experience time passage in exactly the same way.  It's experience is defined by the states, whose input is entirely disconnected from the outside world.  Today, computers store their state using transistors and electricity.  To the same effect, these states can be represented with any other substrate and the computation would be the same. Therefore, if the computation was made by humans using pencil and paper and occurred over hundreds of years, the simulated consciousness would be none the wiser.

Infinity, the wish granter
Think of the billion of sperm that you (in sperm form) competed against just to take birth.  One could incorrectly conclude that because the chances of you winning the race are so minuscule, it must have been by some divine intervention that you were "chosen" to be the sperm that made it.  This biased misconception (pun intended) is created by the fact that the sperm that didn't make it, are not given the consciousness to wonder this question.  The same effect can be seen with the propensity of our universe to create conscious life.  Since the probability for conscious life to happen by chance in our universe is so infinitesimally small, using the same flawed logic we can conclude that the creation of the universe must have been guided by some divine hand.  A much more likely explanation is that there are an unimaginable number of universes, many which are not conducive to life, leading to a small percentage of them having some form of life and consciousness.  In the many universes which life and consciousness does not exist, no one exists to wonder why that universe did not lead to conscious life.  This is called the anthropic principle.  It is likely, by this anthropic principle, that there exists an infinite number of universes.  Using the same logic that lead us to the anthropic principle, we can deduce that given an infinite number of universes, even the most unlikely events are guaranteed to happen.  Flying humans, lava rainbows, real-life Pikachu.  No matter how improbable for a universe to exist containing these things, infinity will always make them happen.

Immortality in the dust
I can come up with any scenario that has some non-zero probability of playing out, and by the anthropic principle logic and assumptions, I can show that it will happen.  For example, I could think of any possible configuration of select grains of sand on the beach and guarantee this will exist at some point in time in some universe.  As I showed previously, the exact material that is performing the simulation of a brain is independent to the experience of the brain.  Combining these two ideas together we have achieved immortality. Imagine the grains of sand to be in state a, and sometime later to be at state b.  We know this will occur in some universe by the anthropic principle and we know that it will produce conscious; our consciousness.

This radical idea appeared in Greg Egan's fictional novel, Permutation City.  The story describes a futuristic world where our computation has advanced to the capability of simulating human brains and touches upon its social and existential implications.

Further reads
Permutation City - $3 ebook
Why we're most likely living in a simulation - A proof

Quantum Suicide