Probability and consequences of living inside a computer simulation by Gilles Brassard

Last December 2020, Professor Gilles Brassard of the Université de Montréal was the first to be appointed on the new Turing chair for Quantum Software at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He joined QuSoft, the Dutch research centre for quantum software of which the UvA is one of the partners, for a period of six months.

As part of his appointment Brassard is giving an online seminar on Friday March 5, on the topic “Probability and consequences of living inside a computer simulation“.

Very little scientific research has so far explored the popular science fiction idea that our world is a computer simulation, but it has been mostly argued that this is extremely probable. By integrating a wider range of factors into a mathematical model, we instead find that we are more likely to be real. This is especially true if simulated beings are able to create their own simulations. If we are nonetheless simulated, we show that there are no secrets we could keep from our simulators, and potentially provide an explanation as to why we have yet to detect extraterrestrial civilisations. (Published online on 3rd March 2021 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A 477:20200658, March 2021. Available open access at

Gilles Brassard is one of the pioneers of quantum information science. His earliest claim to fame was the invention of the BB84 protocol back in 1984, together with Charles H. Bennett. This was the very first protocol for quantum cryptography, in which a private key is exchanged between two users in a highly secure manner. Brassard’s work has been honoured with many awards, including the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, Canada’s highest scientific honour, and the highly prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics. He has also been appointment as fellow at the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Society of London, and has been named Officer in the Order of Canada.

You can watch his online seminar on Friday, March 5 at 16:00 – 17:00 via this link.

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