Documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix” Explores Simulation Theory


What is reality?

It’s a short, but colossal question. A question that has been pondered by the greatest philosophical minds in human history: Plato, Hegel, Descartes, various extremely committed Redditors …

One possible answer is that the “reality” we inhabit is a construct designed in such a way that we are not even aware of it – an idea known as simulation theory. Legendary science fiction author Philip K. Dick became convinced that this was the case, telling fans in a speech in 1977: “We live in a computer-programmed reality. Dick claimed that a dose of sodium pentothal given to him for an impacted wisdom tooth allowed him to briefly see the world as it really was, and he spent the rest of his life examining the idea. memories falsely created through his fiction.

Dick’s speech frames A glitch in the matrix, a new documentary by Rodney Ascher (Room 237). It’s a beautifully done pop culture collage bending reality with input from anonymous proponents of the theory, who share their testimonies while being transformed into animated 3D avatars.

“A glitch in the matrix” —defined

As the title checks the name of the 1999 Wachowski movie The matrix, few seem to get the impression that the actual events in this film, in which human spirits are tapped for energy sources by machines, are taking place. The phrase “a problem in the matrix” has entered the lexicon over the past two decades to mean anything that seems unable to be real, including odd coincidences, deeply improbable events, and any incident that seems to defy belief. logic. In the film, the déjà vu experience is explained as the code for rewriting the Matrix itself, resulting in a momentary glitch – Neo sees the same cat twice, for example, indicating that the world that has it surrounds is being reshaped in real time.

The term simulation theory was invented in its modern sense in a 2003 essay by philosopher Nick bostrom, which makes an appearance in A glitch in the matrix. The idea poses that of three possibilities: that no civilization will ever reach the point where a simulation is possible; that no civilization would benefit from making a simulation; or that we are in a simulation right now – the third is most likely. And that as soon as more than one simulation is run, the numbers are strongly on the side of us who inhabit a simulated reality rather than a basic reality.

The nature of the simulation

While people interpret the nature of the simulation in different ways, Bostrom leans towards having it performed in a future world as a way for people to examine how their ancestors lived. Others see it more as a Fortnite Where Minecraft– a sandbox world designed for entertainment.

As a concept, it’s a bit similar to the Mandela Effect, or the idea of ​​shared false memories. The actual death of Nelson Mandela in 2003, and writer Fiona Broome’s certainty that she remembered her death a decade earlier, is what led to this term, which is often applied to childhood ideas like Froot Loops. Fruit Loops or Berenstain bears being called the Berenstein Bear. This is sometimes combined with simulation theory and attributed to the simulation code being rewritten. What the two undoubtedly have in common is that they function as an expression of arrogance. What is more likely: poorly remembering a fleeting detail from childhood or history retroactively altered by mysterious almighty forces?

Simulation and dehumanization

Unfortunately, where it leaves the realm of fun thought experimentation and becomes dangerous is in the dehumanization of others. If the world around you isn’t real, then nothing matters. And if the people around you aren’t real, they don’t matter either. A phrase from the world of video games, non-player characters, or NPCs, is used in the film, attesting to the idea that those around you are simply going through the motions while you exist on a deeper and more complex level than them.

As in the tragic case of Joshua Cooke, also known as “The Matrix Killer” – who tells his story in the film via a phone call from prison – perceiving those around you as less than human cannot help but. to have an impact on how you are likely to treat people.

Cooke, a big fan of The matrix, shot his adoptive parents with a 12-gauge shotgun in an attempt to determine if he was truly trapped in the illusory world shown in the blockbuster. He was horrified by the non-cinematic results, saying, “It really spoiled me, because it was nothing I had seen on The matrix. Like real life was so much more horrible. It upset me a bit.

Cooke ended up pleading guilty to his crimes rather than claiming he was in the grip of distorting ideas, but the “Matrix defense“A not guilty by reason of insanity plea has been used many times in the courts. In 2002, Tonda Lynn Ansley shot its owner and successfully used defense in Ohio; two years before, Vadim Mieseges had used it in San Francisco.

binary beings

Even if you are convinced that the people around you are made of ones and zeros, concretely, isn’t that the same as if they were real? Shouldn’t you try to be the best person you can be, even if you think the world around you is just a facade?

“This is one question among many that I hope the film will get people thinking about,” Ascher told Mental Floss. “I believe there are times when either of the people we’ve introduced tries to answer them. I’m usually a little embarrassed by the results when I try to answer them myself. Ultimately, it is a variation on a question that has been wrestling with ordinary people, religious leaders, and philosophers for thousands of years.

The ambiguity of it all and the inability to know for sure might mean something to you. If one were to break down simulation theory into its most basic parts, it is essentially the idea that a powerful and invisible creator has made of you and the world around you and observes everything you do. ‘in a way which, as convinced as you may be of the existence of this Creator, can never be objectively proven. Which means that, despite the high-tech nature of simulation theory, it’s not really millions of miles from Genesis or the creation myths of most religions.

“In many religious traditions, this world is not the only one, or even the most important,” says Ascher. “In Christianity, if you spend an eternity in Heaven or Hell, the time you spend on Earth becomes more and more insignificant and insignificant. This world is demo mode.


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