Celebrities love to talk about their theories about how we’re living in the Matrix. Dilbert Cartoonist and ardent Trump supporter Scott Adams firmly believes that we are now living in a simulation of reality.
Other celebs have made similar claims, but to put it nicely… What could they know? Let’s look at the views of scientists, computer and software engineers, and tech experts for some answers on the subject.
What Silicon Valley Says
Silicon Valley, home of the American Tech Industry, has all sorts of opinions on the Matrix theory, as we’ll call it from now on. Silicon Valley engineers are fascinated with the idea that we are in a simulation. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, SpaceX, and Paypal, believes that we are in fact in a simulation. He offers the following as evidence:
“40 years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were. Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality. Even if the progress of video games dropped drastically, they would still be advancing significantly relative to real life. This means that games will soon become as realistic as real life, and that “it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in ‘base reality’ is one in billions.”
His argument definitely proves the possibility that other simulated universes could exist. Even Musk admits though, that this theory is difficult to prove. So that’s from Silicon Valley. Let’s here from astrophysicists.
Space, the Matrix, and You
Scientists measuring cosmic rays have a theory about simulations. They believe that cosmic rays technically shouldn’t have an energy limit. The reason for this is very complicated and I don’t fully understand it, but let’s accept that as the premise for now. Most academics do.
The universe should have constants. The amount of energy, the speed of light… Things like that. However, a simulation would have glitches every once in awhile. Scientists such as John Barrow believe that if amounts of energy reaching the earth ever drift away from the values that we’ve measured for years (10^20), that could prove our world is simulated.
The other effect that scientists are still measuring is if our universe is a grid pattern. Computers work best with lines, therefore a simulation would likely form a grid pattern, just like our video games. Theoretically, cosmic rays should come from all directions equally, with an even distribution. The same amount of energy from every angle. However, we don’t see that. Energy seems to come from a few directions… Almost like it is programmed. This is not conclusive proof of a simulation, but it is not at all consistent with data that we’ve measured about energy before.
Philosophy and the Matrix
AI theorist and philosopher Nick Bostrom believes it to be likely that we are living inside a simulation of the universe, possibly even AIs ourselves. He believes that the underlying ‘Grid’ structure of the universe is what proves this. Scientists are discovering that our universe has more straight lines than we thought, almost a perfect grid.
Nature Doesn’t Create Many Grids
Bostrom admits it’s difficult to prove this with any degree of certainty. It has encouraged experiments such as the measurement of cosmic rays discussed above.
Other philosophers, such as Oxford computer science and philosophy professor Peter Millican believe that the idea of a massive simulation is crazy, and to create such a simulation would require a computer bigger than the universe. He believes the Matrix theory to be impossible on the basis that the computing power needed for something like this could not exist.
He does, however, support investigations into the Matrix theory, stating:
“It is an interesting idea, and it’s healthy to have some crazy ideas. You don’t want to censor ideas according to whether they seem sensible or not because sometimes important new advances will seem crazy to start with… Even if there turns out to be nothing in it, the fact that you have got into the habit of thinking crazy things could mean that at some point you are going to think of something that initially may seem rather way out, but turns out not to be crazy at all.”
And isn’t that what science is all about? Investigating crazy things that can’t possibly be true… Or can they? Probably not this one though.
We may never prove that we’re living in a simulation, but investigations into the theory allow us to see the world in a whole new way.
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