Elon Musk - we're most likely living in a computer simulation

Elon Musk - we're most likely living in a computer simulation

A few months after I published, "The Game: Nothing is as it seems," (a fictional novel for teens where Earth is a virtual reality) I saw a discussion with Elon Musk where he said, "The chance we are not living in a computer simulation is 'one in billions.'"

Is there any way I could send the book to Elon?

Thanks! Heather

carlk | 18/09/2016

I have no idea other than sending it to his home or office. I looked at you book at Amazon I might read it or even recommand it to our office book reading club. I recently got interested in this subject too. To me it's not whether this makes sense or not, I'm not smart enough to figure it out, but is a good way to explain the meaning of life to me and how I should live mine.

Dramsey | 18/09/2016

You know, Elon's a bright guy, but like all of us he occasionally says some really stupid shit.

carlk | 18/09/2016

Please don't make such stupid comment for something you absolutely have no idea of.

nadurse | 19/09/2016

I've been thinking about this recently as well, and based on the little that I have read so far it is very interesting and thought provoking. Maybe someone with more familiarity can clarify, is the leading simulation theory more of that each person we meet is a sentient mind within the simulation (as in the move "The Matrix") or a person(s) in a simulation and the other "people" are simulated minds that don't actually exist in a video game (like the game Roy in the show "Rick and Morty")? In my opinion I think it could go either way, but the more plausible scenario to me would be the former.

Nexxus | 19/09/2016

Pretty extravagant simulation then, to be able to make us feel pain, love, and such. Personally, for this reason, I don't believe it.

makobill | 19/09/2016

That is just what they'd expect you to do...

David N | 19/09/2016

Whose running the simulation?

SO | 19/09/2016

It kind of makes sense that we are in a simulation. It also helps explain why there are so many patterns and mathmatical principals to life itself.

Now I just need to find the correct command for god mode. Oh could I have fun. Haha.

carlk | 19/09/2016


I heard one speculation, everything is speculation of course, that just like in games people we interface with are real players but those in the background are fakes.

@David N

The higher intelegent beings. Some say could be future us, the post-human who are running the ancestor simulation. Elon's arguement is computer and simulation advance so fast it's inevitable that post-human will have the ability to run simulation that mimics our life. A saddier theory is if we are not in a simulation it only means human kind exticted before reaching the post-human stage.

carlk | 19/09/2016

Also scientists have been saying for a while our universe likely is not the only universe. There may be billions or trillions universes we could never communicate with. That means we are only in one simulation but there are many other simulations going on at the same time.

carlk | 19/09/2016

"human kind exticted" -->> "human kind extincted"

Ross1 | 19/09/2016

Refer to Elon/2 in The Play

SO | 19/09/2016

Well...if a player is controlling me, they are doing a lousy job!!!! Ha ha

carlk | 19/09/2016

Not sure if one person is playing the game or if someone wrote the simulation but each of us is playing our own game. I think it is more like the later. There are also theories of how best we should play if this is indeed a simulation. I'm trying to make my best game strategy which I find is making life more interesting.

Captain_Zap | 19/09/2016

Is that the reason why I don't get any more stardust and candies? They didn't think I was worth evolving, I guess. | 19/09/2016

Like all software there appear to be a lots of bugs in the program. When is the next release?

aspaceoflove | 19/09/2016

Hi Carlk - I don't have Elon's home address. And as to sending it to his office - it would help to know which office and also to send it to someone who could pass it along to him (rather than just throwing it out!)

I'm thrilled there's so much interest in this topic! (My response might be more information than all of you were hoping for - but it's a 'writer-thing'!)

First, let me say that the book is written for teens in an adventure/fantasy format. Also, the premise of The Game is a bit different than the idea of a simulation and it's about 330 pages, so it's a bit challenging to sum it up. (You can find it on Amazon). That said, here is the basic concept.

Earth is virtual reality. You are born into the program. Your body is your bio-computer and avatar. Your past 'game lifetimes' are recorded in your DNA (though you don't have specific memories, you will have unexplained 'feelings' from time to time). Your feelings run the binary code of the program (switching it 'on' and 'off' as you feel safe or unsafe, love or fear). You then see a holographic projection (that seems to be solid) of what you believe. The Game teaches you how to play as you're playing.

In the same way that your subconscious feelings and beliefs create entire worlds, people and experiences in your dreams (and you never question the reality - or solidity - of your dream world) your waking-world is similar.

Whether or not you believe that Earth is a virtual reality, the story is a blueprint for how things really work here on Earth. Your feelings run the show. The "Prime Directive" of The Game is "Thy Will Be Done." In other words, whatever you say (or believe) is so. It isn't what happens to you that's important - it is how you respond to whatever is happening that determines what you will see and experience. You are creating your own reality as you go along.

If you say, "I just don't believe that!" - then that is the reality you are creating. And you will create more and more experiences to prove to yourself that you're right.

I wrote The Game for teens (though most of the readers I've heard from tend to be adults who like YA stories - or at least they like this one!) because they tend to feel stuck with issues with their family, friends or in school. But their minds are also more open at this age, and the story helps them to understand that they have choices and that they are far more powerful than they know. Through the eyes of the main character, they can see how they create what they don't want, and they also begin to understand how to create what they do want. So even though it's a 'story' - they see their own story mirrored back to them, and they discover there is another way.

And yes, I do believe that Earth IS a virtual reality! :)

Captain_Zap | 19/09/2016

Don't bogart that joint, my friend...

aspaceoflove | 19/09/2016

Imagination is more important than knowledge!

carlgo2 | 19/09/2016

So, we are controlled by etherial couch potatoes eating Cosmic Cheetos and getting high on something other than life, since they don't have one (obviously)?

It isn't real unless there is an App for that.

carlk | 19/09/2016

@CZ You want to share mine? I got a simulated one.

carlk | 19/09/2016


We will never know. You can never prove what each of us see, hear and feel are real or just signals fed to our brain. It really does not matter if we could not tell.

carlk | 19/09/2016

And maybe you could send him a tweet. He might see it and even respond if you're lucky.

Dramsey | 19/09/2016


Please don't make such stupid comment for something you absolutely have no idea of.

I do have an "idea of" it. Probably more so than you, unless you too are a computer scientist with three decades' worth of experience.

Saying that there's only "one chance in billions" that we're not living in a simulation is a profoundly stupid thing to say. There's just no other way to put it. It's an interesting thing to speculate about but when you make a statement like Elon's. you'd better have some damned good evidence, or at the very least rigorous mathematical proofs, to back it up. Otherwise it's just bar conversation you have after a few beers.

carlk | 19/09/2016

I've done Fortran programming but my real training is a Ph.D in Physics. OK bio out of the way did you ever hear this simulation thing before today and understand where that one in a billion number came from before making your it's real stupid shit comment? You wouldn't jump to that silly reaction if you did.

NKYTA | 19/09/2016

@gh and @CZ, lol. :-)

Thanks for all the fish,

vperl | 19/09/2016

It is more likely than not many of you live in a fairy tale land.

Just an observation

RedShift | 19/09/2016

My my, what great hardware and software this simulation is running on. Never has there been a crash, a reboot, failure..for billions of years. Why are the simulation elements becoming aware of the simulation? Only now? Will they short circuit the simulation causing a new simulation?
Also who is running this simulation? Why? What are the inputs? Outputs? What's the purpose? Why is this simulation running in parts of the world where no intelligent life form lives today?

Gimme a fucking break, Elon.

J.T. | 20/09/2016

@RedShift Why is this simulation running in parts of the world where no intelligent life form lives today?

Maybe we're not intelligent enough to appreciate the intelligence of birds, reptiles and insects.

makobill | 20/09/2016

"“I´d like to share a revelation that I´ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realized that you’re not actually mammals.
 Every mammal on this planet instictively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way can survive is to spread to another area.
There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.
Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we… are the cure.”

carlk | 20/09/2016


You wouldn't know that you are in a simulation and that everything you know in the universe including yourself is not real if you are indeed in a simulation. You wouldn't even know if your post and my reply are real either.


Human use resources but also create resources. It's fine long as the later exceeds the former in a sustainable way.

RedShift | 20/09/2016


I know one thing - that people no matter how intelligent, are gullible!

carlk | 20/09/2016

You "think" you know of course.

SO | 20/09/2016

@redshift: "Never has there been a crash, a reboot, failure..for billions of years. Why are the simulation elements becoming aware of the simulation? "

Honestly, how would we know there wasn't a crash, reboot, etc? It could be a restore and none of us would ever be the wiser.

As far as the "billions of years", who says the program has to run for billions of years to simulate what billions of years look like?

I'm not saying I buy into this simulation 100% but I certainly haven't seen anything that disproves this either.

Madatgascar | 20/09/2016

Sorry, what is the premise here? Humans from the future got tired of making interesting simulations and decided to create a boring one? Or space aliens? Did they actally put us through our whole lives watching technology develop, or are those simulated memories? Just curious.

nadurse | 20/09/2016

Has anyone here who is frivolously bashing this concept ever played any video games lately? Role playing games (RPGs) or first person shooters ( FPS) in particular? Do you have any familiarity with the latest VR headsets or massive multiplayer online (MMO) games? If you have then you should realize how immersing some of these games can be. Then consider how long humans have been making video games (~40 years) on our timeline now. In those 40 years we went from the game Pong to what we have today: virtual reality headsets and games that millions of people can play online at the same time MMORPGs, with graphics that are nearly realistic.

People play games/video games to enhance or escape their own reality, that will likely not change as it is human nature.

Extrapolate that out 40 more years, or even 1000 years... what might video gaming look like?

SO | 20/09/2016

Heck, the multiple universes/realities argument could be nothing but multiple simulations at the same time.

So there could be one where Trump wins and one where Clinton wins and they see how it plays out....haha. I just hope I'm in the better instance of the simulation.

RedShift | 20/09/2016


That's the great thing about this: you can never prove you are NOT in a simulation.

Sounds dangerously close to blind belief/ cockamamie religion. And I hate religious types. And religion.

makobill | 20/09/2016

"Sounds dangerously close to blind belief/cockamamie religion."

I'm not religious / agnostic and agree for the most part. That said, there is a lot of 'blind belief' built into science as well. We could likely discuss for hours, but to keep it on point - simulation/no simulation - the key point is 'what does it matter?' If you confirmed it one way or the other, would you change what you do tomorrow? If it doesn't matter, do what you are going to do and leave the obsessing over it to those who find it stimulating / entertaining. I have no interest in it when I think of the "For Mitch" thread - got no time in my life for those shenanigans.

My 3 cents...

SO | 20/09/2016

I'm not religious either. Although the Flying Spaghetti Monster is something to be afraid of.

carlk | 20/09/2016


We know too much to accept religeon and too little to discount simulation. We are only starting to get there, for both, as our knowledge grows. If you can not fathom how could this be let me give you a very simple example. If we put your brain in a beaker and feed it all signals as you would receive from your body would you think there is even a bit of difference for you?

makobill | 20/09/2016

Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

sp_tesla | 20/09/2016

"RedShift | September 20, 2016
I know one thing - that people no matter how intelligent, are gullible!"


AKA intelligent morons.

dansplans | 20/09/2016

I am very surprised that EM would muse about such things. It is a very dangerous and counter-productive idea.

There is no such thing as crime or consequences. Therefore do what you want, when you want, without guilt. Rape the earth, and your neighbors wife. Only a one in a billion chance that you will be held accountable.

SO | 20/09/2016

Even if we are living in a fake reality, it feels pretty real to me. A lot of people can still have a moral compass without thinking we will get "rewarded" in the afterlife. I think it's sad if some people only act a certain way out of fear/reward.

SO | 20/09/2016

Besides, Elon isn't trying to be the Pope. Have a little fun.

RedShift | 20/09/2016


"We know too much to accept religeon and too little to discount simulation. "

Um, how do you know this isn't god's plan all along? That its god who is making us think 'it's but a simulation'? Maybe God is running the simulation!


carlk | 20/09/2016


Certainly. If we are indeed living in a simulation and there is someone who wrote the code, defined the rules and physical parameters for the simulation then you may say that someone is the God. But that God is not the same as religeous God we are talking about today. Anyway we just know too little to discount any of those theories at this time. One of Elon's arguments is computer technology has been progressing so fast in the last few decades anything we think is unimaginable now may become possible in the not to distant future.

johndoeeyed | 20/09/2016

A few month ago I created a thread and posted thoughts about several points.
I posted about the first 3 points, didn't get around to posting about the final 4 points, but this is what I had posted:

Unless I am mistaken, Elon is an atheist or at least an agnostic. This means he either does not believe in a God, or believes that a God is not probable or necessary, or that science should be the basis of a belief in God and not faith.
A description of a God, as per Wikipedia is ‘the concept of God as described by most theologians includes the attributes of omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), divine simplicity, and as having an eternal and necessary existence.’
If our reality is a simulation, then the simulation creator will have, or is capable of having, all of the attributes that a God can have. If one believes that the probability is that we are in a simulation, then the probability is also that we were created by something having the powers indistinguishable from a God. One cannot be an atheist at the same time as believing that our reality is probably a simulation. One should also not be agnostic and believe at the same time that our reality is probably a simulation. If one does believe in the probability of a God, then it is not inconsistent.

Reality and Reasoning
This is the second flaw in the hypothesis. It only applies to the case where our minds are simulated, and not the case where only our perceptions of the world are simulated. I believe that Elon was referring to the case where our minds are simulated.
If our minds are simulated, then everything we think we know about reality can be simulated. None of this simulated reality need reflect what the real reality is, nor even what it behaves like, including the laws of physics. More importantly, our reasoning of this simulated reality is simulated. The simulation can make us think that we are reasoning rationally, but we are actually reasoning irrationally, under the direction of the simulation. We would not know the difference. The simulation can make us think we have reasoned that we are probably a simulation, or it can make us think we have reasoned that we are probably not a simulation, or it can make us think we are an ape, bird or dolphin, or make us think we are another being altogether in another reality altogether. It may be that in the real reality we are unique and there exists a far higher probability that any sentient being is real, and not a simulation. All those other beings, and we could be one of them, would be correct to reason that they are probably not a simulation.

This is the third flaw in the proposition. It is to do with the probability of our specific reality being a simulation. It does not necessarily apply to other reality simulations. Please bear with me for the first few paragraphs.
Most people believe that they have certain basic rights. There are a multitude of rights including both the physical and the non-physical. These include the right to eat, drink and breathe. The right to feel safe and be free from torture. The right to life. The right to a fair trial, a right to express oneself, the right of association. Most people believe that others in their family and ‘tribe’ are also due these rights. Enlightened people believe that everyone are due these rights. Various people also believe that various animals are also due some basic rights. For instance, the right not to have suffering inflicted. The right to a safe and satisfying living space.
The history of our civilisation is that we have gradually accrued these rights. As time goes by the rights that we expect others to be due increases, rather than decreases. Rights which we now assume to be basic, like the right to a fair trial, did not exist in the past. We can expect that this progress will continue, and we will assign others even more basic rights.
We now also contemplate the rights of an artificial intelligence that we may create. This has been explored both in science fiction and in philosophy. The question is: when an AI becomes advanced enough that it believes it is self-aware, do we owe it rights. Would it be ethical to torture a self-aware AI for instance? If you believe that we will create a self-aware AI then you will need to consider these questions.
If you believe that we are probably a simulation, then you have already decided the answer to these questions. You have decided that self-aware AI does have rights the same as us, because you are a self-aware AI yourself. You have decided that a simulated reality should obey certain ethical rules, because you are in one yourself.
Our reality often does not obey these ethics and preserve these rights. People suffer cruelty, unnecessary pain both physical and mental, summary execution, hunger and thirst leading to death. The being that created our simulated reality has created all of this. It is in their power to stop, and indeed never to have started, all of these events which we believe contravene basic rights. The being that created this simulation must be far less ethical than we consider ourselves to be.
When considering the probability that our reality is a simulation, we need to consider that a being sufficiently advanced to create this convincing reality, is also so unenlightened that they deliberately behaved in what we consider to be an abhorrently unethical manner. This consideration will compound with the next flaw of the proposition, which I will post tomorrow.

Our reality obeys our understanding of simulated physics, and not necessarily the real physics.

If we are the first simulation (we may be a simulation in a simulation) then the creator is real, so what could they possibly be trying to learn from the simulation?

Why bother with sentient beings in the simulation at all, and particularly in our now?

As we are always in the the now, what is the concept of time flowing?

grashelm | 20/09/2016

@johndoeeyed you said "As we are always in the the now, what is the concept of time flowing?"

The concept of time flowing would be you leaving this never coming back.