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A few months ago the tech billionaire Elon Musk was reported as having made the surprising claim in an interview that it was virtually certain that the world as we know it is actually a computer simulation of reality, an idea given prominence in the 1999 science fiction film "The Matrix". Many people probably thought Musk was simply trying to be interesting and controversial in an interview, but there have been further news stories in the last few weeks which suggest the whole idea is taken much more seriously than might be expected by the contemporary elite.
The most recent story is that two tech billionaires (a reasonable guess would be that one of them is Musk) are funding research work into trying to break humanity out of the computer simulation:
A bit more disturbing I think is that the financial community is also taking the computer simulation idea somewhat seriously. The Bank of America is reported as having recently issued a report to some of its clients estimating that there is a 20 to 50% chance of our world actually being a computer simulation:
Much of the work of the financial community seems to consist of looking at events and making arbitrary judgements as to whether the event reduces or increases confidence in the future. If you throw in the idea that we're really living in a Matrix-style computer simulation into the mix of various things that the financial community is concerned about, who knows what the effect of that is going to be on stock exchanges going up and down.
On the subject of Elon Musk, I noticed this post on Paul Homewood's "Not a lot of people know that" blog pointing out how much free publicity the BBC tends to give to Elon Musk and his company, Tesla:
This kind of thing I believe is known as "puff-piece journalism". But the uncritical promotion by the BBC of Musk and Tesla is a lot more questionable given that Musk does seriously seem to believe that we are all living in a computer simulation.
One of the biggest criticisms of renewable energy is that it doesn't really work properly. There is a viewpoint, which gets little or no airtime in the mainstream news media, that intermittent renewable energy does not even provide any significant saving in CO2 at all, due the requirement to provide continuous back-up with gas-fired power stations and diesel generators. The defence against this criticism would be that the Green technology people completely believe in what they are doing and are giving it 100% in the objective of reducing CO2, but it doesn't help if the world's current main Green technology figurehead, Musk, gives an impression that he may be seeing himself as something like a Tony Stark-type figure (from Marvel Comics "Ironman") playing out his particular role in the virtual reality script that constitutes the world as we know it.
The BBC has been lending a helping hand to various individuals and organisations throughout my lifetime. The first example I ever noticed was in the early 1970s as a teenager, where I observed that the Liberal party, led at the time by Jeremy Thorpe, got a much easier ride in political interviews than the Conservatives or Labour. A contributory factor to this might have been that two of the BBC's interviewers in that era, Robin Day and Ludovic Kennedy, had stood in elections as Liberal party candidates themselves in the 1950s. I picked up the general impression that the BBC liked Jeremy Thorpe a lot and would like the public to vote for the Liberal party. It must have had some effect on public opinion, because the Liberal party managed to increase its overall vote from just over 2 million following the 1970 General Election to just over 6 million following the Feb 1974 General Election. The 6 million votes only translated into 14 seats in 1974. A few years later Jeremy Thorpe was actually on trial for murder. He was acquitted, but the involvement in a case like that meant his political career was over, and it also raised questions about the puff-piece treatment he had been receiving earlier from the BBC.
I think this is not a new idea...... and in a way pre-dates computers.
Far more attractive is the South African Bushmen idea that "A dream is dreaming us".
That's right, this idea isn't new, and it isn't just something associated with a few primitive tribes. It has existed in Western culture as something called "solipsism" for several thousand years.
From the Wikipedia article: "Solipsism (from Latin solus, meaning "alone", and ipse, meaning "self") is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside of the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist."
The earliest known solipsist, according to the Wikipedia article, was the Greek philosopher Gorgias of Leontini.
The difference between the modern computer simulation version of solipsism and the traditional version of solipsism is that traditional solipsists were people interested in philosophy, who might be unkindly described as deep thinking losers, whereas the modern solipsist appears to have a high powered job in Silicon Valley or in banking.