Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Green Entrepreneur Elon Musk has claimed that it is almost certain that we all live in a Matrix style computer simulation. But there is a vital piece missing from his conjecture.
Now, 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year. Soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality.
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 we’re in base reality is one in billions.
So what is the flaw with Elon Musk’s theory?
Lets call Musks’s conjecture theory one, and consider some other theories (from a previous post). See if you can pick the odd one out.
2. The buildup of anthropogenic carbon dioxide may lead to dangerous climate change, not because CO2 is a particularly powerful greenhouse gas, but because the slight warming caused by excess CO2 will cause sea water to evaporate, filling the atmosphere with water vapour. Water vapour is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. The evaporation of water vapour will trigger a chain reaction, a runaway greenhouse effect, in which global warming caused by the evaporation of ever increasing amounts of sea water forces yet more sea water to evaporate. In Dr. James Hansen’s words, “The oceans will begin to boil”.
3. We have already been visited by aliens, who most likely continue to monitor us. The alternative is to believe the preposterous proposition that we are the only intelligent life inhabiting any of the planets circling our galaxy’s 100 billion stars. The reason this must be true – all we have to do is look in the mirror. In a few decades, or at most a few centuries, humans will have the technology to mass produce and launch tiny space probes. Probes which can visit other stars, and transmit information back to us.
Such probes are already on the drawing board.
Since the probes we shall build will be incredibly small, it will be possible to launch them at relativistic velocities, for trivial economic cost. Scientists have even discovered ways such probes could be steered and decelerated as they approach their destination, using the Galactic magnetic field.
If just one group of intelligent aliens in our galaxy of 100 billion stars reached our level of technology, at least half a million years ago, and made the decision to send out such space probes, then there has already been enough time for their high speed probes to reach our star system, and report back what they found.
4. Human lives are in danger right now, from asteroids and comets flying through space. As the shock advent of the Chelyabinsk meteor demonstrated, Earth can be struck unexpectedly at any time by meteors and other space bodies, many of which have the potential to cause widespread devastation. The Chelyabinsk meteor detonated with a force of 500 kilotons of TNT – it is only due to good fortune that the explosion, which caused some buildings to collapse and widespread damage and injuries from breaking glass, did not cause serious loss of life.
Which theory stands out from the other theories? The answer of course is the fourth theory. Unlike the other theories, the theory that the Earth is at risk of being struck by a dangerous meteor is based on observational evidence. The other theories, however compelling they seem, are just conjecture.