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Bostrom speculates, for example, that, thousands of years from now, our space-travelling descendants might use nanomachines to transform moons or planets into giant “planetary computers.” It stands to reason that such an advanced civilization might use that computing power to run an “ancestor simulation”—essentially, a high-powered version of the video game “The Sims,” focussed on their evolutionary history.The creation of just one such simulated world might strike us as extraordinary, but Bostrom figures that thousands or even millions of ancestor simulations could be run by a single computer in the future.What, a man in the audience asked, did Musk make of the idea that we are living not in the real world, but in an elaborate computer simulation?Musk exhibited a surprising familiarity with this concept.Virtual baby simulators provide a hands-on experience in infant care including feeding, diapering, rocking and burping.They also monitor for the kind of behaviour that would result in physical harm to an infant, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.
(Raffi Khatchadourian profiled Bostrom for this magazine last year.) The simulation argument begins by noticing several present-day trends in technology, such as the development of virtual reality and the mapping of the human brain.
(One such mapping effort, the Initiative, has been funded by the Obama Administration.) The argument ends by proposing that we are, in fact, digital beings living in a vast computer simulation created by our far-future descendants.
Many people have imagined this scenario over the years, of course, usually while high.
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week, Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors, Space X, and other cutting-edge companies, took a surprising question at the Code Conference, a technology event in California.