One More Time…

Hold on, this is going to be another mind bender.

A number of people have proposed that the world we live in is just a high resolution computer simulation. The argument sometimes goes, any civilization just slightly more advanced than we are now would be capable of creating such a simulation. Then follows a bunch of probabilistic hand waving which demonstrates that if they could, it’s likely that they have done so and consequently, as they say in poker games, if you can’t spot the sucker, you ARE the sucker. In other words, if we haven’t created such a simulation, the probability is high that this is a simulation.

So, assuming for a moment that this is the case, the next question is why? That too has been widely speculated upon. Some assert that the simulation is a tool for exploring simpler times. Others contend that it is a laboratory for studying the operation of complex societies. And others say that there is no reason beyond seeing what will happen.

I’ve got a new suggestion. What if this is a simulation where an advanced civilization is attempting to work out a benign solution to the problem of what happens to all the people when an AI takes over the world. Or maybe it is an AI that is conducting the research. Or maybe we have already ruined the environment and living in this simulated environment is the only way we have of experiencing a world outside of the claustrophobic little survival tanks we have been forced to live in. There’s a twist to the premise of The Matrix for you.

I find myself pondering these possibilities more lately. The world around me seems to make less and less sense to me. The probability of an apocalyptic scenario looms large. And the real danger is from a direction that has only recently occurred to me. As wealth gets more and more concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and production efficiency keeps getting higher and higher, who is going to have the money to consume the products that the rich produce? You can’t eat wealth. You can only drive one car at a time, whether it is a Hundai or a Lamborghini. There is a limit to how much wealth can change your situation. And some things no amount of money can buy.

We live in a world of plenty. All of our traditional economic models were created with the assumption of scarcity and a zero sum game. The current economic game is anything but zero sum. The only thing keeping the world economy together is the shaky confidence that it will hold together, in short faith. We saw in 1927 what happens when enough people loose faith in our economic institutions at the same time. Frankly, it scares the hell out of me.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.