The rate of technological change we are currently experiencing is astounding. A few years back, smartphones didn’t even exist, and 40 years ago there were no computers. Now everyone walks around with a computer in their pockets.
There’s plenty of debate among economists and futurists and technologists and beyond about the actual rate of technological change. Is the rate increasing? Will we hit a ceiling? Where are the mass produced hover boards from Back to the Future?
We are living in an exciting, strange, weird and wonderful world, in which advances in technology and innovation are at once inspirational and frightening.
Are we living in the matrix?
With his plans to put humans on Mars and redesign the roads as we know them, Elon Musk isn’t afraid of making a bold statement. But one utterance back in 2016 caused an unusually large uproar, even for him.
Having been asked his thoughts on whether reality as we know it may in fact merely be a simulation, Musk briefly outlined how far computer games have come – from Pong 40 years ago to the photorealistic games we have now, to the AR and VR games of the near future – and said that the rate of improvement means games will soon “become indistinguishable from reality”.
“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.”
One in billions – in fact, the only reality in which Musk could see us not being a simulation was if we are the beings that will eventually go on to create the first one. The thoughts of the same madman who was convinced in the ‘90s that money transfers over the internet were the future, so got behind PayPal.