You are just a computer simulation of a real person! Our perceived reality is virtual…Or so says a new VR and Artificial Intelligence Company!
Have you ever felt as if you’re watching your life unfold in front of you instead of actively participating in it? Or maybe suspected that instead of being a real person, you’re a sophisticated computer simulation of a real person? That may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but scientists believe the reality we take for granted is coming under increasing technological threat.
Dream Reality Interactive is a company set up by David Ranyard, the former head of Sony’s VR division. They’ve been diving deep into the world of VR and developing an impressive prototype. Ranyard has a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence, which he says has been “useless for 19 years.” But he believes that’s all about to change, as VR and artificial intelligence begin to converge. And his company will be on the forefront when that happens.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the world of VR is accessibility. Ten years ago, VR was reserved for wealthy “early adopters.” Today, you can pick up a VR set for yourself and take it home for the same price as a flat screen television. Raynard believes that price will continue to fall and the technology will become more advanced until the experience becomes as simple as wearing a pair of glasses.
Today, we’re a far cry from that. With large goggle-like cases and massive headphones, the world of VR still seems like a distant world. Even still, the experience of today’s VR is quite remarkable. Developers are perfecting the physical sensation of playing games, with the ultimate goal of completely emerging us in them. Our brains are tricky tools and can send signals to the body that make us feel like we have fully emerged in an experience even as we are sitting stationary.
VR is different than regular storytelling because you are not watching people perform in an invented reality. Instead, you are the starring role in what feels like an alternative reality. But it also adds an aspect of uncertainty to the perspective: what if the reality you are returning to after removing your headsets isn’t real, but instead just a more advanced simulation? Could we be living in a more advanced society’s elaborate creation?
It’s a question that has been addressed by many of the world’ s most diverse thinkers, from Descartes to Plato. It has also been the subject of some of our time’s most mind-bending films, like the Matrix. And Elon Musk believes that the likelihood that we are not actually all living in a simulated world is “one in billions.”
Four years after The Matrix was released to theaters, an Oxford philosopher named Nick Bostrom wrote a paper entitled “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” The paper argued that one of the following three propositions is true: (a) The human race will become extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage, (b) Any posthuman civilization is unlikely to run on a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history, and (c) We are all living in a computer simulation.
The simulation argument has attracted the interest and attention of many futurologists and Silicon Valley innovators like Musk. In fact, two unnamed tech billionaires have already invested in breaking us out of the simulation. The appeal is not just a challenge to the basic foundations of our human perception, but it also ‘breaks’ what we understand of the world and its creator.
Think of it this way: if we continue developing technology at the pace we are and the ‘realities’ we are creating continue to become more real, then at some point in the future it is reasonable to assume that the difference between reality and simulation will become indistinguishable. At that time, we will have created simulated beings with their own consciousness. So is it not, then, also possible that that exact scenario has already happened, and we are the ancestor simulations created by an advanced post-human civilization?
When a man like Musk, who is funding a massive global study of AI, says he believes we are already living in a simulation, it really makes you wonder. The problem is that the simulation argument is unfalsifiable, and therefore it seems absurd, even for a tech billionaire. Essentially, it opens the door to millions of possibilities and multiverse theories that we cannot ever fully grasp.
But as many questions as the theory opens, it answers some pretty significant questions too. Beyond the philosophical implications, the simulation hypothesis would help us solve some long-standing scientific problems. From why we have yet to come into contact with aliens to the ‘fine-tuning’ problem—the simulation hypothesis could explain everything.
Source: The Guardian, Aeon.co