The Wachowskis’ Matrix trilogy has elicited many a “whoa” since the debut of its first film in 1999—no one’s looked at batteries or Keanu Reeves the same since. The heady themes raised questions about base reality and whether or not the machines had violated Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics when they turned all of humanity into a power source (to say nothing of all the nitpicking of the feasibility of the machines’ plan in the first place). Well, those dorm room conversations have spilled into Silicon Valley, where tech impresarios like Elon Musk are now convinced that we all live in a simulation, and one we’ve got to get out of soon.
This comes from The Independent’s tech blog, which has tracked the development of Musk’s mission over the last six months. Back in May, the site reported that the Tesla co-founder had opened a gym for robots as part of OpenAI, the nonprofit research group he established with Y Combinator president Sam Altman. Musk’s intentions aren’t to give us beefier, sexier robots; the facility’s actually “monitoring the progress of [AI] systems—and hopefully ensuring that they don’t go wrong, or have the kinds of effects that Mr Musk and others have repeatedly warned about.”
The dire predictions alluded to—aside from a sharp increase in the number of blue-pill memes—include the possibility that our civilization is a simulation or, even worse, that our civilization’s on the brink of some extinction-level event. Those are the only two options Musk sees, really, and he publicly stated as much in June while at a tech conference in California. He listed the odds that humanity isn’t currently just captive in a simulation as “a billion to one.” Whoa. (Sorry, couldn’t help ourselves). And he and Altman are pouring money into research to bust us all out of this Matrix.
Musk and Altman aren’t the only tech wunderkinds struggling with this “simulation hypothesis,” and neither is the tech industry the only one involved in exploring it. Some Bank Of America analysts have concluded that there is a 20-50 percent chance that we’re all living in a Matrix-like simulation. The financial institution even shared this revelation with its clients via this neat infographic.
We can kind of see where Musk & Co. are coming from, especially since we recently saw Joe Pantoliano, and we now have a messianic figure made of ones and zeroes. So we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for identical black cats.