Are we living in “The Matrix?”

November 8, 2016

We are now past Halloween, yet there are still scary stories needing to be told like that leftover candy in that cheap plastic bucket waiting to be unwrapped. How many times have you looked and saw only those dregs of sweets at the bottom, while stifling the urge to go all-Mike Myers on the culprit who took it all, or go overly dramatic ala-Count Orlok slinking away as if touched by sunshine.  

 

But of course, there are more frightening scenarios than having the worst piece of candy for Halloween. What if you were unknowingly being maneuvered into doing things like a character in a computer simulated game? Perhaps that feeling of deja vu while elbowing your siblings for prime candy could be a warning from your consciousness that you have been repeatedly going through a character-tweaking process. And that process involves a game master (whoever or whatever that is) puppeteering your character through several game scenarios till you level-up your candy-grabbing skills.

 

Seriously, there are groups that actually subscribe to this simulation reality hypothesis, and even fund the research. In fact, the media reported that the more influential ones, like Elon Musk and some Silicon valley-types, are pouring millions of dollars to hack this so-called simulated reality, which has been compared to the premise of “The Matrix.”

 

While a lot of respected physicists and scientists have given their take on the hypothesis, it did elicited amused laughter from the audience during the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History. The debate was moderated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium.

 

MIT cosmologist Mark Tegmark said during the debate, “the more I learned about reality later on, as a physicist, the more struck I was that, when you get deep down into how nature works, down into looking at all of you as a bunch of quarks and electrons. If you look at how these quarks move around, the rules are entirely mathematical, as far as we can say.” He added that if he were a character in a computer game, who starts asking questions about his “game world,” he said he would also “discover eventually that the rules seemed completely rigid and

mathematical.”

 

For the religious, the likelihood of living in a computer simulated reality opens discussion on theoretical questions such as the existence of God or a creator, whose higher consciousness brought forth humankind, and; the issue of the separation of science and religion.

 

While the simulation hypothesis sounds like the premise of the prequel to the movie, it may have given us the best go-to reason for any unexplainable, absurd, and even mundane issue known to humankind (or human simulacra). From the US presidential elections, the traffic buildup along Marine Drive, the power outages to being late for an appointment, just invoke the “glitch in the matrix” excuse. If we are indeed just a part of a complex computer program, will some version of the red or blue pill enable us to choose which reality we’d like to be part of?

 

 

 

 

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