What are the chances that the bowl of Frosted Flakes you ate this morning was not actually cereal but a computer generated simulation, designed by humans in the future to convince you it is real? According to tech mogul Elon Musk, it is almost certain. In fact, he says “there’s a one in billions chance that this is base reality.” Yes, what Elon Musk says about reality is going to throw a monkey wrench into our preciously held beliefs.
Here’s the idea he recently suggested at a tech conference in California. Technology is evolving super fast. It’s evolving so fast that soon we will be unable to distinguish between real reality and virtual reality. Think of the first video game: Pong. It was essentially two bars and a dot. Fast forward forty years and here were are with 3D simulations with millions of simultaneous players. At this clip, Musk says, virtual reality and augmented reality will soon be indistinguishable.
Basically what this means is that we cannot be sure that existence as we know it, is not some sort of gargantuan simulation, set in place by — who? Future generations who are running simulations? What are they doing? Trying to predict and test their hypotheses about specific scenarios? Well, of course. That is the same thing we do now, except that we don’t have the technology to perform these tests on the level that we presumably will in the future.
This is actually nothing new. It goes back to Plato’s allegory of the cave. But what is new are the particulars. Plato knew nothing about computers. If he did, he might ask the same questions that scientists today are asking. Could our entire universe be a gigantic hologram? More and more, science is beginning to ask the big questions about the nature of reality.
Perhaps this is the best argument for creationism after all, with simply a different creator. It’s kinda funny to think that some geek in a computer lab a thousand years from now made us all up. I sure wish he’d add a couple zeros to my paycheck. If you’re out there, hear my plea.