Responding to a tweet about Pong posted by a popular engineering trivia account, the SpaceX and Tesla boss said that the advancement in graphics and gameplay in the years since it was released implies that humanity is on a path to create digital worlds indistinguishable from the real world.
“49 years later, games are photo-realistic 3D worlds,” the billionaire wrote. “What does that trend continuing imply about our reality.”
Musk has previously said that he subscribes to a simulation hypothesis laid out in a 2003 paper by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, which posits that future advances in computing power will allow later generations to run a vast number of highly detailed simulations of their forebears.
If this eventuality occurs, Bostrom claimed, “then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race.”
On the basis of this paper, Musk has stated that there is a 99.99 per cent chance that the universe we inhabit is a computer simulation.
Tools like Unreal Engine enable the creation of photoreal, real-time 3D environments, while technologies like virtual reality headsets and haptic feedback suits offer a sense of what it is actually like to inhabit these simulated worlds.
The idea that we are living in a simulation has been a popular trope in science fiction films and literature over the last half century, with one of the most notable examples being The Matrix movie franchise.
The film’s premise is that reality as we know it is in fact a computer simulation that we experience through a cable plugged directly into the back of our skull.
One of Elon Musk’s numerous business ventures utilizes a rudimentary version of this technology in the form of a high bandwidth brain-machine interface that provides a direct connection between the brain and a computer.
The Neuralink startup initially aims to treat neurological disorders, while later iterations of the device could offer wearers “enhanced abilities” like streaming music directly to their brain, regulating anxiety levels, and ultimately allowing humans to compete with advanced forms of artificial intelligence.
Earlier this year, Neuralink revealed that it has trained a monkey to play Pong using only its mind.