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Elon Musk says we are lucky the world is probably just a simulation

What are the chances we are living in a simulated universe? According to real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk, there’s a chance — a one-in-a-billion chance — we are living in our base reality, and this is something he has given a lot of thought to.

At the annual Code Conference, hosted by Recode, Musk took a question from an audience member during one of his talks. He was asked if an advanced civilization would be able to create a simulation program in which we are just the players in that game. Musk responded that he’s had “so many simulation discussions it’s crazy,” and that he’s had to put a moratorium on when he can and cannot talk about them (like, say, in the hot tub with friends).

His response didn’t bode well for those who believe in free will and power over our own destiny. His logic behind us living in our own Sims is based on the advancement in technology that we’ve seen in just a mere 40 years. From Pong to photorealistic 3D gaming — and even the emerging world of artificial intelligence — we are on a path that would be indistinguishable from creating our own simulated universe.

Musk continues that our chance of existing in base reality is one in a billion, and we should count ourselves lucky to be living in a simulation, if indeed we are.

Arguably we should hope that that’s true, because if civilization stops advancing, that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilization. So maybe we should be hopeful this is a simulation, because otherwise we are going to create simulations indistinguishable from reality or civilization ceases to exist. Those are the two options.

What Musk is referring to is the simulation hypothesis. While it’s been debated since the time of ancient Greece — whether our world is real or we’re living in a waking dream — Musk is specifically referring to what philosopher Nick Bostrom coined as the trilemma in the simulation argument.

Bostrom himself does not believe we are necessarily living in a simulated world or a multiverse, but his argument proposes that one of three unlikely scenarios stands true:

What Musk proposed is closest to Bostrom’s third argument, almost like a hive mind or shared experience situation. It may not be a direct Matrix world with humans jacked into the grid, or even that we’re just bits of data being manipulated by a artificial brain. The third argument opens up the possibility for a multiverse scenario.

It’s a topic that certainly gets you thinking, and it’s no wonder Musk has had to limit where and when he can theorize about a simulated universe. While he never outright said he believes we live in a simulation, his argument for the chances that we could be just a ghost in the machine stand strong, or at least one of billion possibilities to the human condition.

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