The Matrix introduced the radical idea that we humans could be living in a completely simulated reality, meanwhile, our real bodies are in comas and are serving as an energy source for the intelligent machines that took over the world after we created them.
Now, there's no evidence to suggest that the real state of the planet is total darkness and is dominated by power hungry computers. But there is a good amount of evidence to suggest that we are actually living in a simulation right now.
One's first reaction might be: "This can't be a simulation—it all feels so real!" But that's all part of the theory. If we are in a simulation, the simulation would be so good that we wouldn't be able to know for certain that it's all just a computer program. But, we can pick out signs present in our daily lives that support of this theory. It all sounds pretty unlikely, but let's look at the strongest signs to date.
Developers are now designing virtual reality video games, where your screen is a mask over your eyes and your controller is your body. People think virtual reality movies and TV shows won't be far behind. This type of entertainment is the closest we've come to creating a completely realistic simulation—where you can see and touch another world or another life. Isn't that fascinating?
Or is it? Has another civilization already created a completely realistic simulation and put us in it? Philosopher Nick Bostrom at the University of Oxford thinks it's very likely that we're currently living in a simulation. Bostrom bases this on the principle that it's highly likely all civilizations reach a point where their technology is so advanced that they can run simulations in which the participants never suspect they are in a simulation. Kinda makes you paranoid, huh?
The story of The Matrix all started with humans creating artificially intelligent computers that took over the world. In our world, artificial intelligence (AI) gets more sophisticated every year.
Just as our ability to create VR video games shows that civilizations get better and better at creating simulations, our ability to create AI show that civilizations get better and better at creating independent machines. What if the civilization that came before us already created AI so sophisticated that machines took over the world, and we're all serving as their power sources? Of course, this is all just theoretical. But it's certainly cause for concern! I bet after you read the rest of these posts your mind is going to be wandering like crazy - even through your dreams.
Have you ever wondered why the same numbers just kept on showing up in your math and science classes? Pi, the speed of light, Planck's constant, the gravitational constant—the list goes on. The fact that we continue to see the same numbers and equations governing how objects move around points to the conclusion that our universe may actually be a computer program.
This is a bit of a circular argument. We can't know for sure whether math equations run the universe because we're in a simulation, or because that's how the universe actually works. Does energy always equal mass times the speed of light squared (E = MC²) because someone designed it that way, or because that's just how things worked out? We may never know.
Microscopes have come a long way since they were first invented. We can observe the insides of cells and fertilize embryos in petri dishes thanks to microscopes. Electron microscopes allow us to actually observe atoms. But when we try to zoom in closer than that, everything looks fuzzy.
We know that atoms are made up of smaller particles, but when we try to observe those smaller particles, we can't get a clear picture. How come? Astrophysicist, George Smoot thinks this is what happens when you look too closely at a computer screen—you just see a bunch of fuzzy pixels. It's possible that we just don't have the technology to observe subatomic particles yet. But it's also possible that we can't get that close because we're in a computer program.
You would probably need a graduate degree in quantum physics to completely understand this theory, but here's the simpler version: Protons and neutrons are made up of smaller particles called quarks. According to researcher James Gates, the behavior of quarks is governed by certain rules, and those rules are very similar to the codes that run web browsers and search engines. By that logic, the rules governing the subatomic particles that make us up could actually be computer codes. This observation doesn't necessarily mean that computer codes came before subatomic codes, though. We may have a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg problem here. Or, the similarities could just be a coincidence. But if you ask me, this could be a greater problem that we'll never be able to find the answer to.
The measurement problem is a paradox in quantum physics that no one has been able to explain...yet. The concept is pretty confusing but the simplified version is this: Something can only be defined when it is observed. It's the issue with Schrödinger's Cat—until you open the box and look at the cat, it's both alive and dead at the same time.
Some quantum physicists think that the measurement problem, and other paradoxes in quantum mechanics, can be explained by the fact that we are actually living in a simulation. Just like a video game needs a conscious player, Schrödinger's Cat needs a conscious observer. On the other hand, just because we don't understand the measurement problem, doesn't mean the solution is that we are living in a simulation.
In the podcast StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson and theoretical physicist, Brian Greene suggested that we are likely living in a simulation because the "Big Bang"—the explanation of how our universe formed—doesn't make mathematical sense.
Greene said, “We used to consider the Big Bang a singular event that gave rise to one universe, but the math shows you don’t use up all that fuel in a single big bang. In fact, the bang itself winds up generating more of the fuel which generates other bangs—other universes.”
The idea is that multiple universes exist, and our universe could be a simulation created by the people of another universe. The idea that there are multiple universes, however, doesn't necessarily prove that ours is the one that's the simulation, if any of them are.
In elementary school astronomy, you learn that the Earth is just close enough to the sun to sustain life. If we were closer or any further away, the planet would not be hospitable for life.
This is not the only lucky circumstances that had to occur in order for life to exist. For example, if dark energy, the energy that exists in the vacuum of space, was even slightly stronger than it currently is, stars would not have been able to form. With no stars, there would be no planets, let alone hospitable planets.
How the heck did we get so lucky so that the conditions of our universe are just right so that we humans could come into existence? One possible answer is that we didn't get lucky. Someone programmed the strength of dark matter, and other variables necessary to sustain life, into a computer system.
Finally an example that you don't need a physics degree to understand! Uri Geller is an illusionist famous for his spoon bending trick—a trick featured in The Matrix. The young boy who bends the spoon tells Neo, "Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon.” Is Uri Geller bending spoons by realizing that we are actually living in a computer simulation? Probably not. This video shows how it's actually pretty easy to bend a spoon just using your fingers, while making it seem like you're bending it with your mind. Sorry to break it to you like this, but it's all an illusion. Watch the video to see for yourself and then try surprising friends and family with your new "skill."
Author, David Paulides has spent his entire career compiling books full of cases of mysterious disappearances—in which people seem to have just vanished off the face of the Earth. Paulides provides no concrete explanation for all the disappearances, but he makes it clear that he thinks there is something more going on than just coincidences.
What if all these disappearances could be explained by the fact that we are living in a simulation? What if the people who have vanished have figured out how to pick up a phone to get themselves out of the matrix? This is just one possible explanation among lots of bizarre explanations (such as alien abductions and portals to alternate dimensions), but it sure is interesting and is making us scratch our heads for answers...
In The Matrix, the characters can learn new skills simply by plugging themselves into a computer. At the time that the movie came out, this concept was pure science fiction. But a breakthrough in 2016 indicated that it may soon be a scientific fact.
Researchers in California figured out a way to teach people to pilot a plane by transmitting a simulation to the participants via head caps with electrodes on them. Granted, it's not as simple as the movie, where Neo just learns Kung Fu via a computer program. The participants did not go from zero piloting knowledge to perfect knowledge just by using the head caps. But they did improve their piloting skills significantly more than the control group did. This result indicates that learning via "brain upload" may be possible one day.
In 2015, MIT figured out a way to send visual stimuli and drugs directly to the brain using artificial neural fibers. The researchers designed these neural fibers to study how the brain works; they can provide more detailed information on neural activity than previous brain mapping technologies. The researchers also hope to use the devices to treat neurological disorders. Which would be a huge discovery helping those with neurological disorders!
These artificial neural fibers were not designed for the purpose of implanting information directly into someone's brain. But they could, conceivably, be used for that purpose if needed. This is just more evidence that we are going to get to the point when learning by brain uploading is a reality. One day, folks. One day.
The psychological condition we call "multiple personalities" is officially named Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Psychologists don't know for sure what causes this condition. Some think that it's a side effect of traumatic experiences at a young age. Whereas others think that it's not even a real condition; It's all in their head.
But one possible explanation for DID comes from The Matrix. Remember how Agent Smith can take over other people's bodies? It's possible that people who suffer from DID are really having their bodies kidnapped, so to speak, by agents. People with DID report that when an alternative personality takes over, they don't remember anything that happened while that personality was in control. Perhaps they don't remember because their body was temporarily held hostage. Hmmm...
In The Matrix, Neo learns that he is capable of superhuman strength and speed. That is until he figures out that the Matrix is just like a video game that he can cheat in. In our universe, superhuman feats do happen. I'm not talking about weight lifters deadlifting 800 pounds after training their bodies for years. I'm talking about people suddenly being able to lift cars.
One example is Tom Boyle. When he saw a biker get run over by a car and get trapped underneath, he rushed over to help. Even though the most he had ever dead lifted was 700 pounds, he was able to lift the car (which weighed 3,000 pounds) off the biker so the driver of the car could pull him free. Was Tom cheating the rules of the Matrix like Trinity and Neo? Well...the scientific explanation for Tom's story is the "fight or flight" response, which pumps adrenaline into your body. But that explanation doesn't rule the Matrix out of the question.
The Fermi Paradox asks the following question: If there are billions of earth-like planets in the universe that could sustain intelligent life, why haven't we heard from anyone else? Plenty of these planets are older than ours. We know this because their suns are older than ours. Wouldn't that indicate that other intelligent species elsewhere in the universe have had enough time to evolve and develop the technology needed to communicate with us?
One possible answer to the question is that they have been communicating with us but the government has been keeping such communications secret. Another possibility is that we're all by our lonesome because we're actually in a simulation that doesn't include simulated life on other planets.