Elon Musk: We Are Probably Living In Someone's Video Game

By R. Siva Kumar - 03 Jun '16 09:50AM
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk
  • (Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Tesla CEO Elon Musk at an event to launch the Tesla Model X Crossover SUV on September 29, 2015 in Fremont, California.

We are all living in someone else's video game, said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. At this year's Recode Code Conference, he surmised that there seems to be "one in billions" chance that we might be living in reality.

"The strongest argument for us being in a simulation probably is the following. Forty years ago we had pong. Like two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were," he explained. "Now, forty years later, we have photorealistic, 3-D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it's getting better every year. Soon we'll have virtual reality, augmented reality."

He said that even as technology improves dramatically, we might not really be able to pinpoint the difference between games and reality, even if the rate drops by a thousand from the current one. He suggested that it would show a tremendous improvement 10,000 years from now.

"So given that we're clearly on a trajectory to have games that are distinguishable from reality, and those games could be 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," he said.

Another Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom too had questioned our existence in another paper titled "Are You in a Computer Simulation?" Bostrom's existential questions in Silicon Valley is similar to Musk's.

Musk added that he hoped we do not live in a simulation is accurate in a "one in billions" chance.

"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. We're unlikely to go into some multi-million year stasis," he said. 

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