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In our day-to-day lives, we see little outside of our own small worlds. We have our homes, our towns, our states, and the areas we’ve visited to envision and digest. We don’t often consider how tiny we are in this giant universe, how little we know about what is out there besides what we have on Planet Earth. But when we do, it can quickly go from fascinating to mind-boggling. Are we really the only human-inhabitated planet? Is there a more advanced species out there besides us? Are we even, dare I say, real?

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One theory which has been circulating for some time suggests that we might be living in a computer simulation. And while most people would quickly balk at the idea, Elon Musk isn’t one of them.

One of the greatest visionaries and inventors of our time, Musk – the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX, the co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Motors, the co-founder and Chairman of SolarCity, the co-chairman of OpenAI, the co-founder of Zip2, and the co-founder of PayPal _ said in a recent interview that we may, indeed, be characters in a highly-advanced civilization’s video game.

When asked this question at Recode’s Code Conference in California last week, Musk used the history of video games to prove his point.

Forty years ago, games were merely two-dimensional, with black and white graphics. Today, they approach the level of virtual reality, boasting photorealistic graphics and allowing millions of users to play the same game at the same time online. Soon to come is augmented reality technology, which will further blur the lines between reality and gaming. With so much progress in so little time, one can only imagine what the world of video games  will have to offer in 500 years.

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“So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions,” explains Musk.

Try to wrap your head around that: The odds of our lives even being REAL are one in billions! It brings up the point that we still know so little about the universe and the nature of reality, making the notion that a civilization could have created a whole holographic reality based on a computer code entirely plausible.

“Arguably we should hope that that’s true, because if civilization stops advancing, that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilization,” Musk said. “So maybe we should be hopeful this is a simulation, because otherwise we are going to create simulations indistinguishable from reality or civilization ceases to exist. We’re unlikely to go into some multimillion-year stasis.”


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