By Owen Hughes
Technology moguls convinced that we are all living in a Matrix-like simulation are secretly bankrolling efforts to help us break free of it, according to a new report. It’s alleged that two Silicon Valley billionaires are funding work by scientists on proving the simulation hypothesis, a theory backed by Space X CEO Elon Musk.
The simulation hypothesis is based on the idea that humans are not living in reality at all, and are instead a product of a simulation being run by an extremely advanced post-human civilisation. Much like in the Matrix, this simulation is so sophisticated that humans aren’t even aware they are living in it.
It seems like a far-fetched notion, but it’s one that’s held in increasing regard in the wake of recent technological leaps in computing power and artificial intelligence. According to the New Yorker, some of tech’s top minds are so convinced by this theory that they are now funding a solution – though exactly what this would look like is unclear.
“Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer,” reports the New Yorker. “Two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”
The comments were made by author Tad Friend within a profile piece on Sam Altman, CEO of Y Combinator. Neither of the two billionaires referenced were named, although one prominent figure to have made his views on the subject vocal is Elon Musk.
Musk has previously suggested that given the rate of progress in 3D graphics, at some point in the future, video games will be indistinguishable from reality. Thus, it would be impossible to tell if we had already advanced to that point and are now living through a simulation.
In fact, Musk believes that the chance we humans are living in the “base reality” – that is, the true reality – is “one in billions”.
“The strongest argument for us probably being in a simulation is that 40 years ago we had Pong, two rectangles and a dot,” he told a Recode conference in June. “That was what games 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.
“So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality… and there would probably be billions of computers, it would seem to follow that the odds we are in base reality is one in billions.”
In the New Yorker piece, Altman also touched on the threats posed by artificial intelligence, suggesting that the human race might be able to avoid a doomsday scenario by merging itself with machines.
“Any version without a merge will have conflict: we enslave the AI or it enslaves us,” said Altman. “The full-on-crazy version of the merge is we get our brains uploaded into the cloud. We need to level up humans, because our descendants will either conquer the galaxy or extinguish consciousness in the universe forever.”