The rapid advance of computer technology in recent decades has produced a vast array of intelligent machines that far outstrip the human mind in speed and capacity.
Business magnate Elon Musk believes that it is highly probable that we are living in a simulated reality—but why?
What with recent and rapid progress in photorealistic, 3D simulations (think of video games like the Sims or Arma 3), Musk maintains that the ability for humans to realistically simulate reality is not so far off. Assuming that everything in the physical world can be simulated, Musk posits that humans might just decide to simulate themselves, once they realize the immutable limits of human, scientific progress.
In the end, as this video from Vox explains, there are three possibilities of human existence for Elon Musk: one, humans go extinct before they develop this technology; two, humans choose not to run simulations because it is unethical or uninteresting; or three, that we are already living in simulation. Supposing that simulated realities might self-replicate, producing their own sets of simulated realities, our world could be one in infinity.
Interestingly enough, this hypothesis seems to invoke a concept common in religion—the idea that the existence of reality can be explained by some ultimate Creator. But debates over whether a Creator (namely, a God) exists or not are still hotly debated. So unless the creator(s) of our simulated reality came forth to finally reveal the "truth," how does Elon Musk imagine us finally being able to affirm that we have been living in a simulation?
Watch this video above from Vox and read Nick Bostrom's paper, titled "Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?" And consider: does the nature of free will or our responsibility to other individuals change if we are?