Picking Elon Musk's brain usually leads to very interesting conversations. One of his ideas that's making headlines this week is that life and the universe as we know it could be just one very advanced simulation or video game. Think of it like being in The Sims or Civilization, but many magnitudes more complex than the video games we know.
The simulation hypothesis isn't new, it was first made popular in 2003 by philosopher and AI expert Nick Bostrom. Musk took it one step further though by claiming there's a one in a billions chance we're in base reality.
Here's Musk's argument in full:
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.
Tell me what's wrong with that argument. Is there a flaw in that argument?