Living In The Matrix

I thought The Matrix was a terrific movie.  I like the sequel, too.  (The last film in the trilogy, eh, not so much.)

But I had no idea that reputable scientists were seriously considering the central premise of The Matrix — that what we think of as the real world is in fact a huge computer simulation run by machines and designed and policed to enslave humanity.  In fact, a scientist named Rizwan Virk has written a book, entitled The Simulation Hypothesis, about that possibility.

matrix_inThe Matrix concept is gaining traction for several reasons.  One is that computer technology, and games-playing technology, apparently is developing to the point where sophisticated multi-player, on-line games are routine and it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish reality from simulation.  (I say “apparently” because I’m not a gamer — that is, unless I’m really trapped in a computer simulation and playing, unwittingly, just by living my life.)  If our technology is developing in that direction, the argument goes, isn’t it possible that we are living in a more advanced simulation created by more advanced computer system developed by a more advanced civilization?

And there’s also a weird statistical argument for the simulation hypothesis that goes like this:  once a civilization creates computers that are powerful enough to create plausible simulations for millions or billions of players, it’s comparatively easy to create entirely new, realistic settings for entirely new simulated players that are all artificial intelligence.  Crossing that technological-capability threshold means that trillions of AI creations could be living in games — making it statistically likely that you’re an AI creation rather than a flesh-and-blood being.

And here’s an even weirder concept:  if we’re all players in a video game, maybe our scores are being kept somewhere for some purpose that we don’t quite know yet, and won’t know until our own experience in the simulation ends.  It would help to know the rules of the game, wouldn’t it?

Are we living in a simulation?  I don’t see how you can prove or disprove that, from our perspective as potential players in an ultra-advanced game created by an ancient alien civilization.  But I do know this:  if that is our reality, I’m glad the programmers have finally allowed the weather to warm up a bit.

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Further Proof We Do (Or Don’t) Live In The Matrix

Apparently there is a group of people who sincerely believe that we all live in a real-life version of The Matrix.

That is, they think that humans participate in a computer simulation of reality when, in actuality, our bodies are somewhere else — perhaps providing energy to power robotic overlords who are fighting real humans to the death, as in the movie.  Some billionaires who subscribe to that view are funding an effort to break us out of the simulation.

hugo-weaving-agent-smith-the-matrixLet’s suppose for the sake of argument that you thought we might live in a real-life matrix.  Wouldn’t this year’s presidential election cause you to conclude that we couldn’t possibly be living in a matrix?  After all, the whole idea of The Matrix was that the world the computers created was so plausible that humans never suspected it was a sham — and you’ll recall that the early versions of the matrix were too happy and carefree to be accepted by human beings as real.  Wouldn’t this year’s ludicrous presidential election cause people to question whether what we have previously accepted as reality is just a really bad dream?  C’mon — who’s going to accept a presidential election in which Donald Trump is one of the major party candidates?

But wait . . . maybe The Matrix believers think that’s all part of the plan.  Maybe they think Agent Smith and his fellow rogue elements are out there, messing with the seamless perfection of The Matrix, as part of an effort to tear it all down so they can escape.  Maybe that’s why we’ve got this appalling electoral choice, and why we’re seeing these weird reports of random clown sightings and attacks.  Maybe it’s all part of a crazed plan to cause our perception of reality to crumble and leave us gasping for air in our energy pods.

It’s as good an explanation as any.