Ray Kurzweil: We probably live in a simulation but that’s not important

It’s quite likely that we live in a computer simulation but this question is not “that significant”, according to one of the most renowned futurists, Ray Kurzweil, who is also Director of Engineering at Google.

He shared his views during Global Summit 2019, organized by the Singularity University (SU) at the end of August. SU is an organization he co-founded in Silicon Valley to offer educational programs on the topic of emerging technologies.

The simulation theory, suggesting that we all live in the Matrix, has long baffled scientists and philosophers. In 2003, a now-acclaimed paper by Oxford University professor Nick Bostrom gave further impetus to the hypothesis.

“Most theories of physicals actually come down to the fact that the universe is a computer and therefore the whole existence that we see, exists in a computer, Kurzweil said at the event answering an audience question. “So in that sense, we’re living in a simulator.”

He jokingly said that the general understanding of a simulation is that an imaginary eighth-grader in another universe is running a scientific simulation experiment on their computer which happens to be our universe. Then the most important question becomes whether we will do “something wrong” so as to cause them to unplug the computer.

Many scientists, thought leaders and business figures share a common belief that we do, in fact, live in a Simulation. One notable example is Tesla CEO Elon Musk who thinks that there is “a one in billions chance [we’re in] base reality.”

American astrophysicist and Nobel prize winner George Smoot shared a similar view in a TED talk titled “You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It.”

In an interview earlier this year, Musk said that one of the first questions he would ask the first-ever artificial general intelligence to be created would be “what’s outside the simulation.”

Others have even played around with the idea of escaping the stimulation. Preston Greene, an assistant professor of philosophy at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, in turn, has warned that, regardless of whether or not there is any simulation going on, we should leave the theory (and the simulator) alone. Whatever evidence we may find, it might either end up being detrimental or pointless, he thinks.

According to Kurzweil, however, although “the universe does appear to be a computer of sorts”, that doesn’t change our values, plans and priorities as they are today, Kurzweil believes.

So, regardless of the truth, the simulation question may not be as relevant as many believe it to be.

Sorry, Neo.