DO WE REALLY EXIST?
“The universe is merely a fleeting idea in God’s mind – a pretty uncomfortable thought, particularly if you’ve just made a down payment on a house.” – Woody Allen
“What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet.” – Also from Allen
Life as an illusion is a fashionable topic. Don’t hurry to say, “God, what nonsense!” He can hear you. Elon Musk, by the way, is of that opinion. But the opinions of billionaires, as we know, have a great impact on the minds of underpaid workers. A couple of months ago, Elon Musk roused the public interest when he said that it is likely we live in a matrix – the term we conventionally use for this place. The probability that our reality is the primary reality, in his opinion, is one in several million.
I agree that, for a person about to send others to Mars, this statement is rather exotic. On the other hand, the team’s return to Earth is not expected, and their long-time survival is unlikely. It’s the flight of the heroes, who have nothing else to do on Earth. I remember when Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev wanted to send Soviet cosmonauts to the Sun, because we had lost the Moon to the Americans. Scientists delicately hinted that this isn’t possible because the Sun is hot and they would simply burn alive. “Then fly at night,” said the Secretary General.
Scientists object to this Martian project based on the effects of cosmic radiation, which they argue will cause severe brain damage in the astronauts before ultimately killing them, but this has been ignored by Elon Ilyich Musk so far.
He probably has a mysterious solution for this, but is keeping it under wraps for now. Let’s hope so. But the fact that Musk has so bravely drawn upon the ideas of Nick Bostrom about the simulated nature of reality says more in his favor. After all, if this same Musk does not exist in that sense, then neither do the astronaut-Martians, who then experience only a virtual death. That is reassuring.
However, there is another version of this simulation: we do exist, but we live in a fabricated reality. Educated people do not like to take the Creator’s name in vain, so they say we were created by representatives of a more advanced civilization. Why? Who knows. Perhaps to explore different historical paths by changing parameters of alternate universes. In one universe, let’s say, there was World War II, but in another there was not. And in another Hitler won, like Philip K. Dick has fantasized.
If you consider how we are limited in our vision and other senses, you can speak about fabrication there, as well. There is the idea that our stable and solid picture of world is only in our brains. Color and sounds do not exist in nature, and the Universe consists of practically nothing in reality. For those interested in more details, I’ll refer to this intriguing book. It is sobering, scary, and exciting all at the same time.
“For us, it is even better if it turns out that what we accept as reality is a simulation, created by another race or future civilization,” says Musk. The creator of the Mars project is far from alone, making for a collective solipsism.
In the New Yorker’s article, Musk’s sidekick Sam Altman tells how the best minds in Silicon Valley are obsessed with the fear or idea that we are nestled inside a computer simulation. Two unnamed techno-billionaires are so scared, in fact, that they’ve even secretly sponsored research to save humanity from this simulation.
We will continue later on. In the meantime, I will say that poor vision needs to be treated, regardless, even if we aren’t what we think we are. We live only once, either here or there.
Text and photo: S. Varo
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