The Andromeda galaxy and everything else in the known universe, including us, could be part of an advanced simulation. Indeed, this is the most probable scenario, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast on Sept. 7, 2018.
Credit: S. Ozime

Elon Musk thinks we’re all probably trapped in a “Matrix”-like pseudo existence.

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, so any civilizations that may have arisen throughout the cosmos have had loads and loads of time to hone their technological know-how, the SpaceX founder and CEO explained early this morning (Sept. 7) during a long, wide-ranging and very entertaining appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then games will be indistinguishable from reality, or civilization will end. One of those two things will occur,” Musk said. “Therefore, we are most likely in a simulation, because we exist.” [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens]

“I think most likely — this is just about probability — there are many, many simulations,” he added. “You might as well call them reality, or you could call them multiverse.”

The “substrate” on which these simulations are running, whatever it may be, is probably quite boring, at least compared to the simulations themselves, Musk further told Rogan.

“Why would you make a simulation that’s boring? You’d make a simulation that’s way more interesting than base reality,” Musk said, citing the video games and movies that humanity makes, which are “distillation[s] of what’s interesting about life.”

The billionaire entrepreneur is far from alone in this interpretation; a number of physicists, cosmologists and philosophers find the simulation hypothesis compelling. If even one advanced alien civilization with a predilection for creating simulations has ever arisen out there, the reasoning goes, then it could theoretically pop off thousands — or perhaps even millions or billions — of “fake” universes. And it would be hard for the inhabitants of these digital realms to figure out the truth, because all the evidence they could gather would likely be planted by the creators. 

Indeed, the simulation idea is one of many possible explanations for the famous Fermi paradox, which basically asks, “Where is everybody?” (“Everybody” being aliens, of course.)

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