# Simulacra and Simulation

Simulacra and Simulation

Simulacra and Simulation

A simulacrum refers to an image or representation of something or someone. Baudrillard refers to this image as a “reflection of a profound reality, as what masks and denatures the profound reality, or masks the absence of a reality or as having no relation to reality at all”. In that case, the image would be its own simulacrum (Baudrillard 6). On the other hand, simulation is the process of using a model to develop conclusions about the behavior of real elements in the world (McHaney 2). Computer simulation requires the use of programming to create this model.

Computer simulation falls in the unique category of science fiction. Some people view it as a discipline in applied mathematics that involves the creation of programming languages. From Baudrillard’s perspective, science fiction represents a state of imagination where things that seen naturally impossible become possible. Winsberg says that computer simulation is one of the applications of science. He argues that computer simulation questions issues like the nature of scientific evidence, the nature of scientific explanations and issues of scientific realism (Winsberg 2). Computer simulations create and justify claims of scientific knowledge. Unfortunately, these claims often involve applications or programming languages installed in the computer. This begs the question of whether the claims in computer simulations are real or simply simulacra. It then follows that since these claims are a combination of arithmetic figures and calculations, they are a representation of man’s image. The only problem is that man is unable to complete these same calculations and arrive at the exact same conclusions without the help of computers.

The complex nature of computer simulations often proves that the end result often differs from the theoretical basis for the simulation. This difference proves that computer simulations cannot be an image since they do not reflect the theory. On the other hand, computer simulation is an image because it denatures reality and exists as an image on its own, that is, a simulacrum (Winsberg 6). Computer simulation credits its existence to people’s desire to take out the risk in making decisions (McHaney 15). Computer simulations make it possible to calculate probabilities and consequences of various options in a given situation. People are able to pick the option with the best probability without thinking too much. This creates a situation where individuals live in an imaginary world filled with numbers and possibilities instead of real people. It is Baudrillard’s ideal world, where the unnatural is natural. This is a world that is devoid of the constructs built by culture, media and attitude (Baudrillard 126). It is the world of fiction, image that exists in itself and thus is a reality.

Burdea et al says that virtual reality is a “most powerful human-computer interface.” This is because a go between for humans and computers (Burdea et al 1). Virtual reality is a kind of simulation that uses computer graphics to create a realistic-looking world. It is a synthetic world that responds to its user’s input (Burdea et al 2). In virtual reality, a computer builds a new environment that is filled with information and allows the mind to work from another atmosphere. Hemn defines it as an entity that is real in effect but not in fact (108). Simulation has the ability to make something real when it is in fact not real. This is exactly what Baudrillard was trying to explain in his work. The essence of virtual reality borrows from interaction, artificiality, simulations, immersion and networked communications. It constitutes various realities that create an entity. This is what Baudrillard refers to as simulacrum. It is the existence of something that is not necessarily a fact. It is very difficult to understand how virtual reality exists because it includes the human senses like reality and yet it is not reality. This existence allows human beings to question fundamental beliefs like God. Is he merely an image since he has no physical body and or is his existence a reality because of lack of a better explanation (Baudrillard 4).

The piece on Simulacra and Simulation is a topic of debate in digital media because it belittles the quest of reconciling human beings with computers. This is because the idea of computer simulation questions whether it is possible to arrive at the same decisions without using computers. This piece also shows a relationship between simulations and diverse area of study, for example technology and science fiction. The idea of artificial environments questions our view on reality. This makes it a very popular topic because it questions the fundamentals of reality and existence (Heim, 109). This is like bait to the curious mind of human beings. The piece makes it possible to question the constructs in place and push towards what once seemed impossible and unrealistic. This makes it a popular topic for discussion. It is an area that gives ethical activists a very hard time. This is because it is unethical to deny the reality of virtual reality and the impact of computer simulations, and yet, it is also unethical to support creation of artificial realities. It is a challenge to put boundaries to this research because of the inherent need for information (Downes 6).

Work Cited

Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. Print.

McHaney, Roger. Computer Simulation: A Practical Perspective. San Diego: Academic Press, 1991. Print.

Winsberg, Eric B. Science in the Age of Computer Simulation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Print.

Burdea, Grigore, and Philippe Coiffet.Virtual Reality Technology. Hoboken, N.J: J. Wiley-Interscience, 2003. Print.

Heim, Michael. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Internet resource.

Downes, Daniel M. Interactive Realism: The Poetics of Cyberspace. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Univ. Press, 2005. Print.