Monthly Archives: January 2016

Are we living in the Matrix, part one: a simple roll of the dice

The Matrix is one of my favorite movies. When it came out, I was in college. It fueled many philosophical conversations among my friends and me. And not just in my circle. It was so popular with the college students that it played in the local theater for a whole year! In that year I saw it on the big screen dozens of times.

It, of course, forces us to ask the question: is our universe real? Or is it some kind of simulation?

I had actually been thinking along these lines for more than a decade before I saw the movie. As a young kid I really thought it was suspicious that the sky looks like a dome. I wondered if I wasn’t living in some kind of experiment.

I have a lot of thoughts on this premise. Most of them are steeped in very exotic, theoretical physics. I’ll bore you with those details in later posts. For now, I will start with the simplest argument.

Suppose that we assume that at some point in the entire existence of the universe, from beginning to end, somewhere and sometime, there is the technology to create a simulation of the universe convincing enough to fool us. Well, if there is at least one of these similulations, then we have to admit that the chance we ourselves are in the original “real” universe is, at most, 50%.

If someone tries to sell you an original Monet, you have to consider the possibility that it’s a forgery. You know that such forgeries exist. And, if you are like me, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a good copy of the master of Impressionism, and the real deal. Without any extra info, you might as well flip a coin. Unfortunately, my argument here is a direct analogy. If we assume universe simulations exist, and we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, then it just boils down to a roll of the dice.