Rizwan Virk: "The Simulation Hypothesis" | Talks at Google
Thanks. For, that introduction and it's great, to be here in, Mountain View I actually live just down the road so it took me all about three minutes to. Drive here so. Today we're gonna be talking about these topics videogames, science-fiction, computer, science coin and physics and mysticism it's, quite a bit to pack into an hour and we need to leave some time for Q&A now. You'll, notice that I included, two, topics that sometimes aren't discussed by a lot of academics, or scientists, which is science fiction and mysticism but it turns out they're actually quite relevant and important when we talk about the simulation hypothesis, first, most, of the reference, references. We have are from, science fiction like. The Matrix and that's really the question that we're going to be trying to answer today is do we live in the matrix but, also we. Start, to get into, this question of what is consciousness, and. It's something that science hasn't fully understood, yet but, mystics have been studying it for thousands of years so although, sometimes scientists, get upset at me why are you talking about mysticism and religion in the same breath as quantum physics I did. That deliberately so. Before, we jump in a little bit of background on myself as, Piyush mentioned you. Know I'm a technical, guy by background went, to MIT, undergrad, many years ago and did some. My, thesis at the Media Lab on using, gamification for, learning and. Then I did a bunch of enterprise software stuff back in the 90s and then, I moved out here about ten years ago ended up going to business school but, more importantly I got, involved in the videogame industry full-time, we. Created a game called tap fish on mobile which was the number one grossing game in the iPhone App Store when. They first came out with in-app purchases, and of course the number one game in the Google Play Store as well and. Then made a bunch of games based on TV shows and really started to think about you, know how we build games then. I became an investor, invested, in a bunch of different companies you may have even played some of these video games like telltale. Games has a game of Thrones game and Walking Dead game and if, you haven't used this cord probably, your kids have right it's a very popular messaging. App for gamers but now being used in a bunch of different worlds and. Then. You know a couple years ago I went back to MIT to the MIT game lab which. Didn't exist when and, this is the one place at MIT where they study video games and the, effective video games and I started play labs but. You know one of the important things that I learned from some of the faculty there was that playing. Games is one of the oldest human endeavors right. And if you look at how children learn social, interaction, it's, often through playing games with each other so playfulness. Is an important topic more. Than that I submit, that most of what the technology we use today for a variety of different, applications whether it's AI, chatbots. Cryptocurrency. All, came from video games and entertainment, in some way whether it's through GPUs, or through, early multi-user, dungeons, etc, so the history of video games in the history of technology, are, pretty, intertwined, uh and. So that's why I'm going to talk a little bit about the history of video games and how, it ties to this idea that we may add fact to be living inside a giant, video game so. I got my start with video games a long time ago very. Classic video games back, in the day of the Atari 2600.
Space. Invaders and pac-man but. What really made an impression on my young mind was when the game started to become a little more realistic we're still looking at an 8-bit. Video, game here called pole position, I would. Always wonder what was beyond the racetrack, right, you see the mountain, that looks like Mount Fuji there and. Sometimes there would be bleachers, with fake people and and you know as I was playing the Atari I would wonder what. Happens to those characters when I'm not logged in you know is there a real world you, know within this, video game where there's actual conscious entities and of course with, the Atari there weren't but, you know this got more interesting, as science fiction developed. And. As I got older I was a big fan of Star Trek as many of you may have been and you, may remember the holodeck, which was a limited, space but could, project any kind of simulated, environment, and it would feel real to the. Players of the game who were typically, crew. Members of the enterprise but. The episode that really got me thinking about this Oh took. Place in the holodeck, and there was a character named. Professor Moriarty, and for. Those of you who have seen this will remember data. The. Android played Sherlock Holmes in the simulation, but, this, particular character was quite intelligent he. Actually figured out that some of the people in. The, holodeck, were. Simulated. And some were real and they were from a world out there out. There being the. Rest of the enterprise and so. You know he wanted to leave the holodeck, and he wanted to get out of the simulation and so, this kind of you know inspired, me to think about this topic for many years and of. Course you know the the, major reference these days is the matrix where Keanu Reeves plays a character named neo, who. Is living a regular life as mr. Anderson working, in an office like many of us do and. He comes across Morpheus. Who's played by Laurence Fishburne who is named after the Greek god of dreams who, tells him that everything. He sees around him is, an illusion in fact he says you are living in a dream world but. He also says that I can't tell you or show you you. Know I can't tell you what the matrix is you have to see it for yourself and even. Those who haven't seen the movie probably know the famous scene you can take the red pill or the blue pill you, take the red pill you wake up to see what the matrix is you take the blue pill and you just keep on living your life, neo. Of course takes the red pill and he wakes up inside this pod and he, finds that he has a connection. Into his neocortex. Which is probably, why they called him neo in, the movie and, that everything, he thought was reality was being beamed in, to. His brain and. So we'll will talk a little bit about this in the context, of current technology and where, we're going and what this might mean and. As. Per you know. This. Topic has gotten popular in the 20 years since the release of the matrix back, then it was just considered science fiction but there are a couple of reasons one. Of which is you know Elon Musk said, a few years ago with the code conference, that 40 years ago we, had two, squares and a dot that was the stage of video games right, we had pong which was the first widely available video, game made. By Atari right down the road here in Sunnyvale, today. We have virtual reality, we have augmented, reality, and. We have millions of online players, on these, MMORPGs. In 3d worlds so what will happen you. Know in a few, decades what will happen in a hundred years from now will, we get to the point where the, video game is indistinguishable, from reality I would. Argue we're actually getting there very, quickly so, I had my own experience speaking. Of pong, few years ago when. I was playing a ping-pong game using. A virtual reality headset I think, it was the vive in this case and I, started to play this game and you'll notice that the resolution, isn't that great the opponent, you, know is there but it's not even a photorealistic opponent, but, what happened was that the physics engine was so good and the.
Reactions, Were so dead on that I actually felt, like I was really playing table. Tennis and I forgot that I was in a virtual reality headset in fact, at the end of the game I put the paddle two hand on the table and I leaned against the table just like I might do after, playing a game with a little table tennis of course the controller fell to the floor, there, was no table and I almost fell over and so, then I really, started to think okay it's. Not so much about the resolution it's about the responsiveness, of the technology, that. Makes us believe we're. In something, when we're actually not. And. So. I started, to do a thought exercise that. Said you, know could we build a matrix you know how long would it take us to get there and what, are the stages, to. Get to what I call the simulation, point and that's, the point at which we would be capable of producing, a. Video. Game that is so indistinguishable. From reality that the players would not know that they were inside a video game and if, we could get there that, raises a bigger question which, is just about the simulation hypothesis. Which is has. Someone already gotten, there right, now, what most people don't realize is that there's two versions of the simulation, hypothesis, out, there, and. One, of them is what I call the NPC, version and it, was put forth by a professor. Named Nick Bostrom, at Oxford University and, we'll talk a little bit about his simulation, argument which has gotten a lot of press but he, put, out a paper in 2003, are we living in a simulation and that, got academics. And others to start taking this idea a little more seriously but, then in that version we're all simulated, AI. We're, like non player characters or. NPCs, as we call them in the video game world in the, other version, of the simulation, hypothesis, which. I call the RPG. Version, we, exist outside of, the simulation, and we are playing roles just, as I might have an avatar in. The Warcraft or Second Life consciousness. Exists, outside the simulation, and. So, when you look at some physicists, like Max Planck who was one of the founders, of many. Aspects. Of modern physics he, says he views consciousness. As fundamental. And matter. As derivative, in. The other version, consciousness. Is seen merely, as a collection, of neurons and an emergent, property right. So matter is primary, and consciousness. Is derivative and so that. Tug-of-war, between these versions of the simulation, hypothesis, is I think you know one of the most interesting aspects, of this question, the RPG version, by the way is also the matrix version right, neo, existed. Outside of the simulation, now there were a eyes for NPCs, like the famous Agent, Smith inside. The matrix but. Most of the players actually existed, outside so. Let's talk about boström simulation, argument many of you may have heard of it before but the, basic idea is he. Says that if. There are civilizations. In our galaxy that, get, to this point and I call it the simulation, point which, is in the middle there that. Get, to the point where they can create this technology, then. They are likely to create not just one simulation, they're. Likely to create many simulations, actually. Makes the point that there's three possibilities one, civilization, never, gets to that point which. I doubt and many technologists, doubt because we think we can get there the, second point being the civilization, gets there but they don't want to make any simulations, and he calls them ancestor, simulations, or simulations, of more, primitive societies, that's, the possibility, the, third possibility, though is they get there they, create these simulations, and they create lots and lots of simulations, and so, his point was that creating, a new civilization. Or. Simulated, universe is just a matter of spinning up another, server on Google, cloud or whatever so, we can have millions of simulated. Universes with billions, of beings within them therefore. It's, simple statistics, boström, says that, if you kind of all the simulated beings in, the universe and you add up all the biological beings. In the base reality. Then. You, know you. If you are simulated, being you are more if you are being you, are more likely simulated, being than, a real being simple probability there's way more of these than those and that's, what led Elon Musk to say that the chances that we're in bass reality, is one, in billions right.
Because There are so many more of these meanings so. That's one, version of the argument but. You know I wanted to delve a little bit deeper and say okay how do we get there as a civilization, and it's. All starts with video games so about a third of the book is dedicated to, how, we build a technology and if, we go back to the 1970s. You know text adventures were the first place where there, was a virtual world inside the computer that could be explored there, were no graphics but you could give little commands like go north go left and you could speak with NPCs, then, we got graphical, arcade games like the ones I grew up with and today we're at 3d. Massively. Multiplayer online role-playing games, where there are more. Realistic, NPCs, and there, are millions of people interacting with each other which, brings up an interesting philosophical question, if you and I are both playing World of Warcraft you. Know are we in the same space, are. We even seeing, the same world it's, what I call the rendered world, of. Course that's the beginning stage. Four and five are about virtual reality and photorealistic, augmented, reality. Stage, six though is where it starts to get interesting because now we say at some point we got to get rid of the the glasses, right I mean, even, though I forgot for a moment that I was playing ping pong I did in fact have the glasses on my head and I would have realized it eventually and so as we start to be able to render objects, in augmented reality using. Light field displays in, the idea is that you can figure out how the light bounces, off of this cup for example then. What is the difference between the cup and a. Physical object where, light bounces, off the physical, object the physical object becomes information, right. And today's 3d printers are already showing us this we can take any physical, object and we, can encode it into a set of pixels 3d, pixels right, well if that's true then. The distinction between information. And material. Reality, starts, to blur, and that's actually one of the key points in my book is that we may be living in a world of information and, not, a world, of physical, material, objects right the more physicists, open up you, know they look down the molecules they look at the look, inside the atoms and they can't find physical, matter right.
There's Nothing there when you keep opening up the Russian nested, dolls what, is there is information but. Getting back to my point about ping pong that, the really critical stage is the brain computer, interface, right. It's this ability to be able to beam into, our minds, a scene. And then, to read back the results. Of how. We want to react to that scene and we'll, talk about some analogies, for how that might work and then stage eight has false memories, stage, nine would be AI that's, much more able. To come, across as human and. Then stage 10 is. Another. Controversial, topic, but one that's quite popular here in Silicon Valley which. Is downloadable, consciousness, can, i download my, consciousness, into, a silicon, device thereby. Living, forever you. Know and we'll talk a little bit about this in the in the context of consciousness, and mysticism later, on because there, may already be people who know how to do this without, the silicon device to upload and download consciousness. And then, we reach stage, 11 the simulation, point which, is that, point that I talked about so. You'll. Notice that we're. We're, where are we you know in this we're at about five six, stages. But. We're not that far off from the other stages right, so let's talk a little bit about you. Know the things we still have to develop right. So in brain computer interfaces the first step is being, able to project a picture. Into the mind and you know there have been experiments since the 1950s. Where, they used electrical, currents, and, they were able to bring up particular, scenes in the, mind. The, harder part of it may be to actually as in, the case of the matrix to, get your responses, well, it turns out there's actually a biological technology, already that, does this it happens. To each of us every night it's. When we dream our, dreams. Are like many simulations, we. Have scenes projected, in front of our minds some of the characters are real some of them are not we. React to the scenes and. We see the results, it's the same basic gameplay loop that we use when we build video games right we present something, we. Wait for your response I mean today's video games you're, still you know doing dialogue trees and things like that but. Being able to detect. People's responses, now, just last week Elon. Musk unveiled neuro-link, which is a chip that, can go in the brain that. Will be able to enhance using, AI there's, there's a start-up in Boston called, neuro Bowl that, is already, trying to be able to predict, your responses. So. That you can actually you, know control, video game characters, now. It this may or may not involve an actual physical, water or a physical. Chip right some of us may not want to put a chip in our minds there, was a group at Princeton, at, the advanced engineering, and amélie's Research, Lab where. They looked at random, number generators, and they. Found that quantum random number generators, could. Be influenced. By. Your thoughts and so. There's a few companies. Now that are trying to commercialize this technology without. Necessarily. Requiring, to plug in your brain that. If, you change your thoughts it, changes the color of a lamp for example and. So we're still in the early stages here. But, there's a research group at Berkeley that found that they could get rough ideas, of what you were dreaming right. So these technologies, are coming they're. Still in their infancy but. They're not, as far off as you might think. We. Then move to stage eight which. Is the area of false memories some, of you may have seen the. Movie Blade Runner which was based on a novel by philip k dick so, what, many people don't know is that in 1977. Philip. K dick was. In metz france and he gave a talk and he said we, live in a computer-generated, reality. And the, only clue we have is when something in our environment changes. In fact, he really believed this I interviewed his wife tessa dick as part of my research for the book and, some of you may have seen the man in the high castle which. Is pretty. Popular science fiction he. Actually believed that that was an alternate timeline that actually happened and that, the creators of the simulation, decided to unwind that timeline and Riaan, go forward again so, now we're at the intersection of science fiction mysticism.
And. And. The simulation hypothesis. So. Let, me jump forward a I and NPCs I mean the first practical, AI how. Many people know this was Claude Shannon, it was a professor at MIT and. Where he created a chess-playing computer. And in. That same year in 1950, Alan Turing came up with his idea of the, imitation game which is now known as the Turing test here, at Google I'm sure you guys have all heard of this where, the idea is that behind. One curtain there's a computer and the other curtain there's a person and if you can't tell the difference then. It, has passed the imitation game or passed the Turing test we, seem to be getting closer to it we're, not quite there yet with our NPCs, right we still use dialogue trees if you've played a telltale, game right don't, say what do you want to say back to this character but, we're getting there in the video game side so. You, know it's just a matter. Of time I think before we get realistic looking NPCs, and. Then we get to stage 10 downloadable. Consciousness, right, and so the question here is gets, back to that fundamental question. Is. Consciousness, just a set of information that. Can be downloaded and, put, into a silicon device or, is, it something else that, that exists, somewhere else in which case simply. Copying, the neurons isn't, enough so, far we've, had computers, which have simulated all the neurons and the, neural connections within, a rat's brain which. Is a much smaller number than the human brain so, it's not that it won't be that long before we're able to simulate all of the neurons and all, of the neural connections of a human brain I think that number is something like 10 to the 39 once. We can do that you, know do we have the ability to replicate consciousness. But, this brings us now to metaphysical. Questions many. Of you may have heard of the quantum teleportation done. In China of a, particular. Particle to, a satellite but. Really what they're teleporting, is the, information, contained, in that particle, not the particle itself so, the question is if you replicate somebody's. Neural structure are you creating a copy of that person or is, it actually that person so these are deeper philosophical issues then.
The Technology itself, but. Again. We're not that far off so it's very possible that we'll be able to get to stage, 10 and once we do we're. At the simulation point, so, if we can get to the simulation point who's to say that someone hasn't already gotten. There and perhaps. They've left clues for us in. Our physical world either. Intentionally, or unintentionally that. We're living inside a video game. So let's. Shift and talk a little bit about the, physics now I'm not going to spend too much time on this I'm not a physicist but there's some really, interesting aspects. Of quantum, physics and you know Niels Bohr was once said those, who are not shocked when they first come across quantum, theories cannot. Possibly, have understood it now. Physicists. Gotten to the point where they no longer want, to ask the big questions, about quantum, theory, they, said let's just get down to the calculations, and figure out you, know some of the details but, the big question and the big mysteries are why. Do. Things happen in this way and. A couple of the big mysteries are quantum indeterminacy and, quantum entanglement, why. Would we live in a universe where, these things exist, that's. The question that I believe physicists, don't have the answer for by which the simulation, hypothesis, provides a pretty, good answer so. Most of you may have heard of quantum, indeterminacy this, is the famous double slit experiment where. If a particle is going through these two slits it, starts, off as a probability, wave and then, the probability wave collapses. To, a single. Possibility, when. It's observed, so, here's an example of a wave and probably, the better way to understand, that is Schrodinger's. Infamous, cat and, so, common, sense tells us that, Schrodinger's. Cat is either alive or dead inside this box and Schrodinger. Gave a scenario, where they, put some radioactive, material in the Box within, the cat with. The cat so that within, an hour it, would have a 50% chance of being alive and 50%. Chance of being dead so, common. Sense says it's either alive or dead we just don't know because we haven't opened up the box quantum. Physics tells us no both. Of those possibilities, actually. Exist and it's not until someone. Actually observes, it that. That possibility. Collapses. The probability, wave and there's, a few different theories of what, causes the. Collapse of the probability, wave but. It seems to be that, the rule of thumb is that. In. Quantum physics in our physical universe, only. That which gets observed, actually, gets rendered all. Right because. You need an observer now there's some debate over whether that observer can be a machine and AI or it has to be a conscious observer and maybe. If we have time I'll talk about some experiments that are being done and so California, to, try to nail that down but, it needs to be observed only then does, it get rendered well this reminded me a lot of video games right, in, early, video games there was a shared rendered, world I don't, know if anyone knows which video game this is but this is a game called King's Quest from, the, 1980s, and you'll notice that all the pixels exist, on. Memory, and as your character moves all you have to do is get the pixels from the next scene and move, them right so that is in a pre-rendered. World and the materialistic, point of view says, that we live in a pre-rendered, world the physical world exists. It's. Just a matter of us getting going, around moving around in it but, if, you had asked somebody in the 1980s, can you render, something like World of Warcraft, or fortnight, a fully, 3d, world. They would say no we just don't have enough, computing. Power for all those pixels so, how do we get from there to here we, came up with optimization. Techniques, and that's, really the key we came up with 3d modeling, and we came up with rendering, engines and we came up with physics engines and what, does a rendering engine do it takes the point of view of your character, and renders. Only, that which can be observed from. Your point of view everything, else is hidden from, the point of view of the rendering engine now this is the game Doom which.
Came Out in the 1990s, and was one of the first 3d. Perspective games, but of course the. Techniques. Have gotten much more sophisticated since, then so, the rule golden. Rule in video games is render only that which is observed which, brings up the question. Is there a shared rendered, world or, not. Now, if you and I are playing for. Night or World of Warcraft or Second, Life or any of these games we, think we're in the same scene but, the reality is there is no shared rendered world I'm rendering it on my laptop you're. Rendering it on your laptop or your phone and so. Physicists. Have been asking the question for, a while is there no shared rendered world there, was a Nobel prize-winning physicist, named Wigner, Eugene. Wigner who asked this question saying, if I look at a particle and see the collapse of the probability, wave and then, Wigner's friend, looks. At it before I tell him what I observed will. He see the same collapse of the probability, wave that. I saw and he. Wasn't able to do the experiment, back in the 60s, well they just did it in recently using, a series of I think five or six entangled particles and they, found that Wigner and Wigner's friend could observe, different. Collapses, of the probability, wave okay. So this is pretty profound two, different people might, observe, a very, different, rendering, of the world it's, not unlike what we do in video games right I if, you're a level 10 character and I'm a level 5 on. The server we can send you a different, thing, I can put a UFO in the scene if I have a lot for you and the other guy won't see it right so we're sending information. To a rendering device, which, is rendering it at unconsciousness which brings up the point of what, is that. Rendering, device, is it our brains is it consciousness is it something else John. Wheeler who we'll talk about in a minute you, know said that everything. Is information theoretic, in origin he's a pretty, well-known physicist, so, it seems like quantum.
Indeterminacy Could. Be an optimization. Technique same, kind of techniques we use when we build video games what. About quantum entanglement, okay. You, know Einstein called, it spooky action at a distance it's, you and confirmed now. You. Know quantum entangled, particles, have been able, to get pretty far apart from each other theoretically. They could get millions of miles away but. Why. Would nature have, an instance where these particles, are entangled why would it need to I would. Pause it again. Coming. At it from computer science and video gaming point of view that, it's all about optimization. And compression. Now what does this have to do with Game of Thrones well. The reason I can stream, Game of Thrones to, my phone is. Because it. Doesn't send all the pixels right I mean at a HD resolution, think of how many pixels would have to be sent to, my phone and how many frames there are at 30 frames per second right, so what we do is we take all the particles the pixels that have the same values and we collapse, them all right we're going back to Claude Shannon, and an information theory and compression, and whenever, you compress, things. You, reduce, the. Amount of information that has to be transmitted. But, you also need to decompress that information, which, means you need error correction, codes and people. Some, certain scientists, are starting to find error, correction, codes in, the physical universe it's all theoretical at this point but there are string theorists, for example who find who found error correction, codes in the Asians and. People. Who are simulating, physical universes, using. A smaller number of particle an entangled, particles are finding that, error correction, codes are present as well there, so, it's very possible that, quantum. Entanglement really, is it is yet another compression. Technique. Or optimization, technique so these are clues that we find in the physical world now. Another interpretation, of this, is, that. The, probability wave never actually collapses, what, happens is that every time there's a decision made we. Branch out into multiple different, universes, okay, so we probably have a bunch, of computer scientists, here and engineers like, if you were to branch out and create a copy of something how. Would you do that right if you look at the physical world and you, look at physical processes, creating, a clone of the sheep dolly you, still have to grow the cell creating. A clone of a tree it's, a slow process following. Some some algorithms, that we don't fully understand, but they're probably fractal, in nature however, in, computer science we just copy the information from the server and says boom we now have another ranch if. You're branching out your crypto currency blockchain like Bitcoin for example, right you just take a copy of the blockchain at that point if the. Melting many-worlds, hypothesis. Is true there must be a mechanism that can instantly create copies, of the, physical universe which. Means that it's more likely to be an information based reality than. A physical, material, universe in my opinion this. Also begs. The question if there, are multiple parallel, universes are, they really just probability. Or do they actually exist, so, you know when I was making my first video games we used to use something called the minimax algorithm right we would look at the current state of the board and we would project forward, and then, we would look at all the probabilities and we would find them the biggest the, best most optimal, function and that's, the pact that we would choose there's. A physicist, named Tom Campbell I wrote a book called my big toe my big there him everything he believes that that's what nature does is it spins off these virtual, realities. As. Parallel. Universes, but they don't actually exist they're, just they're, just probabilities. And then whatever is most optimal, that's the path that we follow, that's how rendering, happens. Within physical world so these are all interesting and there's a you know a lot more aspects, of physics which I won't get into a ton of detail now the delayed choice experiment, which shows that a decision in the future can, affect the path do, we have pixelated, space going back to Max Planck the, smallest.
You. Know physical distance we can measure is called the Planck length below. That we can't measure it why would there need to be a smallest. Distance. Right if nature was continuous, in material that, may not be needed pixel. At a time which. Is something we do in simulations, and computer games all the time you have a clock speed and you, have a certain, you. Know you have a certain generation for example if you're simulating fruit flies every. Year you look at the population but. Whatever speed. Of the simulation, the, set it has to be a multiple of the clock speed so, if there is a pixelated, time. A minimum. Unit of time and many physicists, are starting to think there is then. It's very possible that we're in some kind of a compute engine that's. Going forward, and. There's more about speed of light and wormholes and good stuff like that and, of course quantum superposition, and qubits which you, know I talked a little bit more about in the book as well so, I'm gonna end the physics section here because we're running out of time but John. Wheeler who was one of the last physicists. To work with Einstein, and many of the Great's of quantum physics you know he came to the conclusion that the. Physical universe was. Really based on information and he had famous phrase he called it it from bit which. Is the idea that anything you see that's physical is based on information and he, says in his lifetime we, went through three stages of physics in the first stage everything. Was a particle it was a material universe, in, the second phase, everything. Was a field. Probability. Field of quantum field and by, the third phase everything. Was a series of bits you, know and now that we're looking at quantum, computers and qubits we're starting to see everything, could be an on, and off structure, and be built of bits which, leads us back to this idea that we could be living in an information, centric, simulated. World, around us and those are just some of the clues the. Third big aspect, that I cover in the book is this idea of. Mystical. Traditions, and the world's religions and. Turns out not just, any. One religion right. Sometimes I get pushback from people particularly religion like I was on a show in South Carolina, and this guy said that's not what Jesus Christ said you. Know that we're living in a simulated, computer game we're sitting there playing Mario, Brothers I said. Well let's, look a little more deeply what he said, but. Particularly, Eastern, traditions, seem, to you don't even have to do an analogy, right I mean Buddha said know that all phenomena, are like reflections, appearing, in a very clear mirror, devoid. Of inherent, existence sounds. A lot like pixels. In, the Hindu. Traditions, that's, a picture of the god Vishnu who's, having a dream and we're all part, of the, dream in the Veda as they talk about the Leela or, the grand play, of life like. A stage play we, were all characters, kind, of like Shakespeare, said right all the world's a stage and we're all characters.
But What, kind of a play would it be it's, an interactive play where, each of us can, modify. What's happening, with some sense of freewill well that sounds a lot like a video game right they didn't have the terminology video, game back, when they wrote the Vedas but if they did that might have been a more appropriate, you. Know thing. For them to say in. Buddhism, and in Hinduism in the Eastern traditions there's a society of the wheel of samsara where. We go through a life and then, we go we we, go through another life so we play different characters. Where. We're basically it's basically the world is basically a role-playing, game. And. What. Makes this wheel turn in. Those. Traditions it's the fact that we still have unaccomplished. Tasks. Ahead, of us right I'll talk about Karma in a minute but karma is what makes the wheel turn in, these, traditions, in, the Tibetan traditions, they have this idea of dream yoga it's one of the six yoga's of Naropa which. Is our set of mystical practices, that have been preserved for about a thousand, years and in, dream yoga you. Learn to wake up within your dreams what we would call lucid, dreaming today and the, idea is if you inside, a dream can. Realize that what you're seeing around you is an illusion, it's a dream then. You can also wake up in physical, reality and, realize. That we are in fact in a dream world and in an illusion so you bring that consciousness, so this is one of the the, yoga's, that they've taught for a period of time and now we've started to study it and lucid dreaming has been studied in the laboratories. As well so, we know it exists, so which brings us back to the age-old question that, Descartes, Wright. Raised, me and I think the 1500s, when he said what if there's an evil demon that's tricking me and everything. I see around me is just signals. Into my brain I can't, be sure the, only thing I can be sure of is that I am thinking therefore. I am right. So this idea that we may actually be in a dream world with signals being sent into our brain has, a long history. Particularly. Within Eastern traditions, we, basically, download, consciousness, at Birth from, somewhere, into, a physical body and at death the, information, is uploaded, or beamed back up like in a cloud server, now. What is it that gets downloaded and, uploaded now we're back to the transhumanist movement and, folks, like Ray Kurzweil here at Google who want to be able to, download. To a silicon device well, it turns out in the Eastern traditions they've been talking about uploading, and downloading of consciousness, for a while one. Of the differences between the Hindu and the Buddhist traditions is in Hinduism there's an indestructible soul, but. In the Buddhist traditions. What. Gets reincarnated, is really. A bag, of karma, well. What, is that a bag, of information. It's, a set of things that you have done in this life and that you have to do in the future so, it's really just information. And being sent back and forth within these traditions, well, I started to think about this from the point of view a video game designer and turns out you can define a very nice questing, system that. Basically defines. How. Karma, is supposed to work within the Eastern traditions, which brings up the idea is, Buddha's. Endless wheel and algorithm, actually and. Is, there actually a scientific or technological basis, for, what these religions have been telling us all along where, we have a series of quests that we have to achieve and. You. Can read more about that in the book even, in the Western religious traditions there's, this idea of the recording, angels and in, the Islamic traditions in the Quran they give them names and they say one angel writes down every good deed you did and one, angel writes down every bad deed now, we're a bunch of engineers here if you had to implement that would you really have 14. Billion conscious, entities sitting there writing down things in a book no.
You Would probably have AI or algorithms, that are recording, things but. In in the Quran. And in, the Western traditions they say you have to review, you. Know what you did so, that it mean it's literally a book somebody's, trying to step down but they say that after you die you, have to examine your deeds and look, at the impact of those deeds well. This. Is kind of interesting and if you're gonna want. To talk about China you want to talk to somebody who's been to China so, we're gonna talk about what happens after death you want to talk to people that have actually been dead so, I have a good friend named dannion brinkley who, wrote a book called save by the light he was struck by lightning and had a 20-minute near-death, experience turns out there's thousands of these cases out there and almost, all of them bring. Up this idea of a panoramic. Life review he, said where there's a recording. Of everything you did in your life and, you have to relive that recording but you. Have to live it from the other person's point of view and you, know Danny was in the military he used to literally kill, people as a sniper he had to experience what it was like to get the bullet so. Recently, you know before I wrote the book I was involved in a start-up that did recordings, of games like a league of legends some of you may have played these games now this is a 3d game on a 2d landscape, but, we would record it in 3d and then you would put on a virtual reality headset and we could put the virtual cameras, anywhere. We wanted to so, literally, you could play back the, character you killed or, that you shot in csgo, and you, could see it from their point of view so I'm. Not saying that what the Western religious traditions told us is necessarily true I'm saying if they're true how. Would it be implemented, it, would be implemented, you know by doing a 3d recording, of everything that has happened to you in your life so, that reminds, me a lot of the. Simulation, hypothesis, kids today are recording, their their games and sending them on Twitch all over the place right so. That may be what's going on at a more cosmic scale now. I won't get into some of these since our we've, talked about NDEs, but, here, at the, Stanford Research Institute in the 70s when they were inventing the ARPANET, they, were also doing research on remote viewing where, they had people trying to figure out what was in a remote destination, and they, found statistically, significant, results not many people know that these were going on like them rooms next to each other they're working on the internet and they're investigating remote viewing if. It exists, how could it work it's. The same way we put a virtual camera anywhere, inside the 3d world and we, can see what's happening it makes sense if it's a simulated world it does make any sense if we, live in a material world at all and. So there's a lot of these topics I'll actually be giving a talk at east-west here in Mountain View more about the the. Unexplained, phenomenon, side of it but. You know we want to transition the questions here soon but one of the big questions that I get is can, i hack the simulation. And, if we're living in a simulation now you may remember the famous scene in the matrix where, this, young, guy was bending the spoon and his. Advice to neo was the thing you have to remember is there. Is no spoon. Within. A simulation it's. All information. That's being rendered so, to hack it you may have to figure out how to tie in to that now we're, very left brained there, was also research done on this at the Stanford Research Institute on spoon, bending right, which some people think doesn't exist well this is a picture from the Marriott here, in Santa Clara on Friday night where a group of 20 people got together took. Spoons from the Marriott and bent. Them all if you zoom into that picture now one. Of the guys who did research on this Jack Hogg from Stanford Research Institute said, he, went, to Los Alamos and tried this and none. Of the physicists, could do it but all of their wives could. Isn't. That interesting so maybe, hacking the simulation, is not about a left brain quantitative. Approach but it's about letting. Go and realizing, something about the underlying nature of reality so, I. Mean I want to break for questions soon but you know we get the big questions, often, why. Would somebody want to do a simulation. The. Answer is why do you play video games, for. Entertainment, to have experiences, that you might not be able to have outside, the simulation, I can't, ride. A dragon and kill it works in real life but I could do it in a video game so there may be something about the experiences, in the video game that we're having, another. Big question is what's outside the simulation.
Right, Ilan must ask this recently as well he said that I think, Lex Friedman, researcher. At MIT asked, him what would you ask an AGI if we, had artificial general intelligence he's I would ask him what's outside the simulation, is, it. Aliens, future. Humans so Bostrom's, theory was that we live inside an ancestor, simulation, so there are future versions, of us and this is more old more along the lines of what philip k dick believed, could, they be trying travelers if you're, more of a religious man you might think it's God in angels some, people think it's pure, justise going back to max planck and some, of the ideas there we, don't know the answer but, you know what does this mean for me right as a person, you, might say doesn't, mean anything to me well, if you're inside you know grand theft auto maybe. Your goal is to steal, automobiles. So my question for you is if you were a character in a video game what, attributes strength. Intelligence, dexterity, all those old Dungeons, & Dragons attributes, have you brought into the game what, type of character are you and what, is your quest right, what are the challenges and, things, that you want to achieve in this life so, adopting, the idea of a video game is a pretty powerful metaphor, and to. Take. The advice of another. MIT physicist. Max tegmark, you. Know he said make, it an interesting simulation. Because you don't want the simulators to shut you down I. Like. To use the analogy I, like, to use the analogy of Indiana Jones films, where, if at the beginning he was just given the treasure map and it's, just that here's the treasure go get it that. Wouldn't make for a very interesting movie it wouldn't make for a very interesting video game either right you have to have a clue and you follow the clue to the next clue and you have to have challenges in fact in the sequels to the matrix if, you remember they said that the first version of the Matrix was an ideal world but. Humans wouldn't accept that as a real world because there was no strife there was no boredom there weren't any challenges, I mean people always ask me well if I was gonna make a video game I would make myself a trillionaire and I would do this and that well, that may not be the nature of the game and that may not be the types of quests or achievements, that, you're here to achieve so. You know that's the answer to that big question so. I think we have a few minutes for questions in, terms of where to get the book I like to say. Support, local bookstore so Books Inc here in Mountain View in East West yeah. In New York strand, bookstore or Barnes & Noble in Boston the MIT group Harvard coupe so you, know go to your local bookstore and if, you can't find it then go to Amazon. So. With that I'd like to open, I my website is an entrepreneur, calm and my email is there if you want to ask me questions afterwards. So. It's a question um first. Of all a wonderful, and fascinating philosophical. Conversation, happy for basically. Being able to ask us um there's. A field of machine learning research called.
Model-based, Reinforcement. Learning where, you'll build up a simulation of your environment and, then. Train inside, of that simulation, there's. A value to having the simulation, which is that you can generate arbitrary. Amounts of data and so end up with an algorithm that's much more finely tuned and capable of decision making than, without that simulation, there's. Also this want to do counterfactual, inference and ask oh well if I hadn't, experienced, this reality what would have happened and in. Asking what would have happened you can do a kind of credit assignment, which. Says oh well if I've taken some other path you, know this is what the outcome would have been and so. That might be a motivation, for creating simulations, so I don't know if you engage with that at all in the book or, what your thoughts are on this, sort of you know access of machine learning research yeah. I mean not so much the machine, learning research but this idea that you may want to look. At alternate. Versions. Of what might have happened and, find a way to score, those right, I mean I think that may. Be a fundamental. Part. Of this view of parallel, realities, and what they actually are it. Gets back to this question of why are we doing a simulation right if I'm simulating fruit flies is to, see how the population, might evolve over time if I'm, simulating you, know Sim City or sid meier's civilization what. Is it that I'm trying to figure out you know some people think that we're. Trying to figure out if we're gonna destroy the planet or if we're going to destroy ourselves in, the simulation, I don't. Think there's necessarily just. One purpose, and there's not just one way of scoring what the different alternatives might be but, really that each of us has, our own versions, of what we're here do and each of us is doing something similar to, what you talked about there with the machine learning which, is that each of us is projecting, into the future figuring. Out what might happen and. Then coming back to the present which gets back to this idea in quantum physics with a delayed choice experiment, where some, observation, of the future is actually affecting, the past so, it's a very very high level answer, to. Asking there but I think you, know that general, approach maybe what's that work in the simulation. Before. We jump to another life question there is a question, from the live audiences, and this, person asks if, if there's any possibility to wake up from the simulation, like neo did and how can you achieve that. That's. A great question and I would submit that, most. Religions today happen, because somebody, woke up from the simulation they. Peaked outside the simulation, they saw what was out there and they, came back and tried to describe it and then somebody built a whole religion, around it right but, it's kind of like the, the three blind men with the elephant right, they're all feeling the elephant but they're feeling different parts of the elephant one thinks it's like a snake because they have the trunk one, thinks it's like a tree because, they're feeling the legs of the elephant one thinks it's like a house, so. I think there are ways to peek outside simulation. But, I think they may have to do more with our consciousness. And realizing. You, know that there. May be more going on than what we're seeing around us and so that's what you know Yogi's and these guys have dedicated thousands. Of years of techniques to basically. Peeking outside the simulation, now the, other question might be can we do it more from a scientific point of view right and. You, know I think a related. Question is. You. Know if the simulation hypothesis, isn't falsifiable. Right. Then, why, should we take it seriously right, but I would say that it's. Just because something can't be proven wrong doesn't.
Mean That you can't find evidence for it right, 200, years ago the idea of meteorites, was. Unfalsifiable. Scientists said that's ridiculous there's no way that that's happening I think it didn't believe it there was a belief system that. Said these, things cannot be here therefore they don't exist contrary. To some evidence that people had seen things falling from the skies at how you imagined the whole thing right but, eventually they did find some evidence for, meteorites and today we actually accept that, meteorites do exist and things do fall from the sky but we needed a different model of how the universe worked before, we were able to get to that point and so, I think you can find evidence, and in the book I go into some of the experiments, that people have done to try to figure out if we have a pixelated reality, etc. And so there may be a more scientific, way of doing it but I would say explore consciousness is the way to up from the game. So, I really enjoyed, the parallels you drew between aspects. Of a reality, and, video. Game software like. The pixelization of the world with, Planck's constant and. How. These quantum, phenomena, might be forms. Of compression, so. What I'm wondering is, we. All know that software has bugs and that, they're unavoidable so what. Is the. Analogous, what are bugs in the simulation, what do they look like yes, we detect them yeah great question so if you remember in the movie The Matrix, you, know they, coined that - the phrase which is used pretty often now a glitch in the matrix and, if, you remember it was the cat that. Was going by the door and then. He looked again and it was the same scene replayed it, was a glitch in the software so. The. Question is are there glitches, in, the physical matrix around us now I mentioned, philip k dick he. Wrote a novel called the adjustment, team short. Story which became The Adjustment Bureau which, is a big blockbuster movie, with you, know Matt Damon and Emily Blunt but, he believed that it was experiences, of deja vu just like the glitches of the matrix in the movie and, he one. Point he said I used to have a light switch here in, my bathroom now I have this, chain, what. The heck changed. He, thought that somebody had played with the simulation, and it, actually changed, little things in the physical realm we believe in big changes and little things and so a lot of the unexplained, phenomenon, that I talked about but I didn't really get into detail today that. A lot of modern science dismisses, could in fact be. Glitches in the matrix, particularly. Around you, know things like feelings, of deja vu and. Precognitive. Dreaming right there's a lot of literature on this stuff that, because our belief system doesn't allow it most scientists, won't even look at it that if. You've ever a scientist we won't look at data that, happens in this realm but not in other realms and so I think that that's why I included the whole area of mysticism and religions in the book because I believe there's a lot of glitches in the matrix but we've been conditioned, for, a long time to not look at those as anything, real. This. One says the general simulation, hypothesis, is inconsequential.
And Unfalsifiable because, if it were somehow proven, true it would make no difference within observable, reality and one can always claim that reality as a simulation is. Preferred version of the simulation, hypothesis, either consequential. Or falsifiable. Right. So you know getting back to what I just said a few moments ago just, because you can't prove it's not true doesn't. Mean that you can't find evidence that. It is true and you. Know I was just down at a university. Down in Southern California where that we're running some experiments, to try to show evidence that, in fact. Consciousness. Is needed. To collapse the probability, wave not just a device because, the device could be part of the simulation as well right so if. And, and depending, on what we find if in, fact you need a conscious, person as opposed to a device that. Brings up back, to my preferred, version of the simulation hypothesis, which is that the RPG version, that we, are conscious entities who are playing characters now. Is it consequential, I'll get back to the to my last point in this talk if you, were playing a particular game, like EVE Online, your, goal may be to build spaceships and, you, know build an empire intergalactic. Knowing. That you're in a simulation might, alter your behavior. Because. You'll have a different set of quests, and achievements, that's, why I like the video game analogy, more, than just a straight simulated, environment, itself yeah. We, want to thank you so much for being here thanks everybody. You.