I want to riff on Olivia Solon's thoughtful report in the Guardian yesterday, regarding Elon Musk and Silicon Valley's "...keen interest in the 'simulation hypothesis', which argues that what we experience as reality is actually a giant computer simulation created by a more sophisticated intelligence. If it sounds a lot like The Matrix, that's because it is."
First, such obligatory references to The Matrix (1999) betray the film's complexity: it is far more interested with responding to much deeper themes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) than the prospect of living in a simulation. The Thirteenth Floor (1999) on the other hand, which followed The Matrix to theatres by just two months, explores the existential implications of living in a simulation far more directly and seriously.
Second, a poor command of science fiction may actually be a liability for media in reporting on futurists like Musk. His respective projects and overall vision tend to be portrayed as random and unmoored. Yet, anyone who has read Iain M. Banks' "Culture" series will recognize his recent reference to a "neural lace", noted the unique naming convention for the SpaceX fleet, and feel the influence of the lengthy digression about simulations from the final "Culture" book, The Hydrogen Sonata (2012). They're out of this world (literally) and fantastical (that's the point) but they are not without context.
Third, is there anything in the so-called "simulation hypothesis" that's all that different from, to generalize and borrow a phrase from Bill Hicks' famous "Positive Drug Story" bit: "...that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively"?
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