"There is no spoon," says Neo, the protagonist of the 1999 sci-fi classic "The Matrix," after finally accepting the fact that his whole version of reality is just a computer simulation created by sentient machines in the future.
For us, at least in the way we perceive this world, our spoons are tangibly real. And so are all the material and physical manifestations of objects around us. Our personal reality is the ultimate reality because it's the only one that matters to us.
But what if this subjective reality is not that one true reality?
Get ready to take that red pill. According to Bank of America, there is a 20 to 50 percent chance we are living in a Matrix-style simulation crafted by our descendants.
In a report about "Future Reality" sent to their clients, Bank of America's Merrill Lynch highlighted key statistics about the growing popularity of augmented and virtual reality technology. One of the entries is the probability that we are already living in a simulated world.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote:
"Many scientists, philosophers, and business leaders believe that there is a 20-50% probability that humans are already living in a computer-simulated virtual world. In April 2016, researchers gathered at the American Museum of Natural History to debate this notion. The argument is that we are already approaching photorealistic 3D simulations that millions of people can simultaneously participate in."
They also mention similar views made by prominent personalities like Tesla's futurist leader Elon Musk, popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Bostrom's paper "Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?" as a basis for their statistic.
"It is conceivable that with advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and computing power, members of future civilizations could have decided to run a simulation of their ancestors."
The company also points out the only three probable scenarios suggested by Bostrom's paper. These are:
- We will go extinct before reaching post-human stage.
- If we reach post-humanity, only a small fraction of this future civilization will be interested in running ancestor-simulations.
- We have reached this post-human stage already and we are all living in an ancestor-simulation created by our descendants.
Essentially, Bostrum asserts that if human civilization has advanced enough to develop post-human technologies and our descendants are interested in running ancestor-simulations, there is a big possibility that we are now living inside one of those simulations.
If that's the case, maybe there might be a spoon but it is half full or half empty, depending on how optimistic you are for our collective future?
We think this whole report is just a promotional tool for Bank Of America anyway. Who knows? Maybe they are developing an upcoming augmented reality/virtual 360 banking app they will want to launch soon.
What do you think? Are we already in the Matrix? Drop us a comment below!
To read Neil Bostrum's fascinating theories about simulated realities, check out his paper here.