Elon Musk must have taken the red pill.
The eccentric tech mogul made plenty of bold claims during Recode's annual Code Conference on Wednesday -- including that we'll put humans on Mars by 2025 -- but this one takes the cake: Musk believes that our very existence is quite possibly an elaborate computer simulation with great graphics.
Essentially, he thinks that our technology is evolving at such a rate that the line between virtual and base reality will soon cease to exist. Fair. Given our already blurry reality, Musk says, who's to say humanity hasn't already reached that level of tech, and is now running simulations of past civilizations that are indistinguishable from base reality?
Who's to say we aren't one of those simulations?
"There's a one in billions chance that this is base reality," Musk said.
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.
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 that we're in base reality is one in billions.
As outlandish as that might sound, Musk is really only continuing a conversation that we're all having as tech brings us closer to alternate realities that are indistinguishable from "real life."
Experts believe our technology is changing who we are, and soon we won't know whether we're talking to robots or humans. Plus, scientists have already hinted that our universe is one big ol' hologram.
The simulation argument is nothing new, but Musk is good at making nerdy thought experiments go mainstream. But if we're really just simulations, I'd rather be a dragon. Or Lara Croft. I wonder if the sweaty child running our simulation will make me famous? Make me a famous, child overlord!