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Musk is just one of the people in Silicon to take a 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.
According to this week’s New Yorker profile of Y Combinator venture capitalist Sam Altman,, there are two tech billionaires secretly engaging scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation. But what does this mean? And what evidence is there that we are, in fact, living in The Matrix?
One popular argument for the simulation hypothesis, outside of acid trips, came from Oxford University’s Nick Bostrom in 2003 (although the idea dates back as far as the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes). In a paper titled ‘Are You Living In a Simulation?’, Bostrom suggested that members of an advanced ‘posthuman’ civilization with vast computing power might choose to run simulations of their ancestors in the universe.
This argument is extrapolated from observing current trends in technology, including the rise of virtual reality and efforts to map the human brain.
If we believe that there is nothing supernatural about what causes consciousness and it’s merely the product of a very complex architecture in the human brain, we’ll be able to reproduce it. ‘Soon there will be nothing technical standing in the way to making machines that have their own consciousness,’ said Rich Terrile, a scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
At the same time, videogames are becoming more and more sophisticated and in the future we’ll be able to have simulations of conscious entities inside them. Guardian online article 11 October 2016, ‘Is our world a simulation? Why some scientists say it’s more likely than not’
Dwight: Second Life is not a game. It is a multi-user, virtual environment. It doesn’t have points or scores. It doesn’t have winners or losers.
Jim: Oh, it has losers. The Office US s4e9: Local Ad, NBC 2007
Tech news: the new sensation sweeping the solar system is the total immersion video game Better than Life. Using the new senso-lock feedback technique Better than Life is able to detect all your desires and fantasies and then make them come true. So great is the appeal of Better than Life, when one store in Tokyo ran out of stocks rubber weapons had to be deployed to disperse the crowds. Red Dwarf s2e2: Better than Life, Groovy Channel 27 female hologram newsreader, BBC 1988
Today we’re going to be looking at more people who think kids aren’t all right. Assholes who think that playing video games is bad for you. People who want to shut down video games. Today we’re going to be talking to a bunch of motherfuckers. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! s7e3: Video Games, Showtime 2009
Videos without big fucking guns are bullshit. ibid.
Youth crime has plummeted by half since the mid-1990s in spite of the sky-rocketing popularity of violent video games. ibid.
Violent video games cause increases in aggressive thoughts and behaviours. Hillary Clinton
Grand Theft Auto is the worst assault on children since polio. Jack Thompson, public interest attorney
Thus far there has been no absolutely hard evidence that violent video games cause any kind of teen violence, outbursts and any kind of anti-social behaviour. Laurence Walters, constitutional attorney
Billy Mitchell: 874,300  The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, 2007
The Player of the Century Award. ibid.
Steve Wiebe: Kill Screen 985,600 – 2 hours 27 minutes witnessed on Funspot machine. ibid.
Billy Mitchell on video tape: 1,047,200. ibid.
Steve Wiebe on video tape 3rd August 2006: 1,049,100. ibid.
Steve Wiebe now holds both the live and taped world records on Donkey Kong. ibid.
He [Mitchell] was the guy who pushed for live scores all the time, and now here I am at Funspot busting my arse to get a live score, and he just submits taped scores now and gets the record. Steve Wiebe
For years and years it was believed that Billy’s record of 874,300 in 1982 is really the highest score anyone would get. Brian Kuh [568,400 in 2001]
9A video arcade classic has finally been conquered. On July 4th at a New Hampshire arcade thirty-four-year-old Billy Mitchell became the first person to master Pacman by recording the first ever perfect game. News report July 1999
There’s a level of difference between people, and it translates into some games. Billy Mitchell
Donkey Kong without question is the hardest game. Billy Mitchell
Donkey Kong and Pacman and Ms Pacman and Galaga and Defender – these are the games that caught the public eye. These are the games people cared about. Steve Sanders, author Master’s Guide to Donkey Kong
Bill [Mitchell] is the best classic arcade gamer of our era. Steve Sanders
Why do we do it? Because we actually love this. Walter Day, Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard coordinator & referee
Everybody picks on me. Walter Day
Funspot’s the premier place where the media comes and meets with the superstars. Walter Day
I make video games because I can. Indie Games: The Movie, designer, Channel 4 2013
The ultimate art form. ibid. designer
Edmund has designed 25 Flash games in the past 10 years. ibid. caption
Video games: for years the domain of outsiders and geeks and people who look a bit like owls. Somewhere down the line gaming went mainstream and now everyone plays them eighteen hours a day. Charlie Brooker, How Videogames Changed the World, Channel 4 2013
25. Pong 1972
24. Space Invaders 1978
23. Pac-Man 1980
22. Manic Miner 1983
21. Elite 1984
20. Super Mario Brothers 1985
19. Tetris 1989
18. The Secret of Monkey Island 1990
17. Street Fighter II 1991
16. Doom 1993
15. Night Trap 1992
14. Tomb Raider 1996
13. PaRappa the Rapper 1996
12. Starcraft 1998
11. The Sims 2000
10. Grand Theft Auto III 2001
09. Shadow of the Colossus 2005
08. World of Warcraft 2005
07. Wii Sports 2006
06. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2007
05. Braid 2008
04. Angry Birds 2009
03. Minecraft 2011
02. The Last of Us 2013
01. Twitter 2006
… And promises to be as colourful and controversial as its predecessors. The Gamechangers, New York radio, re Grand Theft Auto, BBC 2015
Guys, we’re gonna create the first truly adaptable hero across any art form. ibid.
This lawsuit will put the video game industry on trial. ibid. prosecutor