I don’t want to freak you out here, but there’s a chance you’re not the only ‘you’ in existence.
I’m not talking about the possibility that you might actually have two different brains, which means it’s virtually impossible to tell which one is ‘you’.
I’m talking about the fact that there could well be countless parallel universes, and each one contains a slightly different version of you.
Within that parallel universe construct, our own reality might not be as ‘real’ as you think. Are some of the most massive objects in our Universe nothing but holograms?
Is our Universe itself a hologram? Is this whole thing one giant simulation and we’re just characters in the most advanced video game ever? I swear I’m not high.
Everything I just mentioned is part of actual thought experiments that have been devised and debated over by the world’s best thinkers for years now, because one way or another, we have to make sense of this very strange and incredibly unlikely reality we’ve found ourselves in.
At Recode’s annual Code Conference this week in California, billionaire tech genius Elon Musk was asked about the possibility of us humans being unwitting participants in a giant simulation built by some alien civilization that’s far more advanced than our own.
His argument is pretty simple, if we look at our own history of video games. Forty years ago, video games meant stuff like Pong and Space Invaders.
Now we have photorealistic, three-dimensional stuff that looks like this, and we could have millions, potentially even billions, of people all playing the same game online at the same time.
Sure, there’s a certain ‘uncanny valley‘ quality to our video game counterparts right now, but think of what things are going to look like in another 40, or even 20 years’ time, with virtual and augmented reality already trying to inch its way into our living rooms.
“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let’s imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.
So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.”
It might not be the most comforting thing in the world to think about – our reality isn’t at all what we think it is – but Musk says all of this being one big video game is about the best option we could hope for, given the alternatives.
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Pass it on: Popular Science