Last night, I watched ‘The Matrix’ for the first time and that movie plays a perfectly role in the question, “what it is to be human.” Think about a world that is unreal, how would we even know if the world we live in is unreal? What if we are all in a virtual world that makes our brain think we are actually doing something? As of right now, I am typing a paper for my English 212 class at Saginaw Valley State University; in the Matrix this is what you should be thinking. If you see it, smell it, and feel it; it must be real. However, not according to the Matrix; how deep does the rabbit hole go?
People seem to think that everything that happens to them everyday is real. The question is, though, “What is real?”. Is everything you see everyday really real or is it fake? We might see fantasies that other people or machines have created for us. Maybe we are the ones that are not enlightened yet. Numerous essays and films have been produced on this subject. One essay is “The Allegory of the Cave” written by Plato in 360 B.C. Also, the movie The Matrix was filmed in 1999. Even though many differences can be drawn between “The Allegory of the Cave” and The Matrix, there are many similarities as well.
In 1999, Larry and Andy Wachowski directed The Matrix, a movie featuring the future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality or cyberspace called "the Matrix”. This fake reality was created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population. To some, this movie represents just another brilliant Hollywood sci-fi action film, but for others, it challenges the understanding of perspective, reality and appearance ("The matrix 101," 2003). The Matrix heavily relies on the concepts of Irish Philosopher George Berkeley who believed reality, or reality as humans perceive it, is fundamentally mental and therefore immaterial which is known as Idealism.
Uncertainty of what seemed the clear distinction between the simulated and the real: No clear line between the artificial and the real
This idea is represented in the matrix by “The Desert of the Real” and the motifs of mirrors throughout the movie. The reflections represent the confusion toward the blurred line between reality and simulation. Similarly, this idea of the blurred line between reality and simulation is reflected with Cypher’s conversation with Agent Smith. A firm believer in the theory “ignorance is bliss”, Cypher prefers the ‘happier’ simulated life to the truth facing him. By emphasising this simulated environment, the Wachowski brothers allow us to analyse our own dependency on technology for our lives. Similarly, Card analyses this idea of human kind living in a simulacra in his novel Ender’s game. Not knowing the truth, Ender is deceived by his military superiors into believing that the real battle against the buggers was simply a computer game. “Real. Not a game.” After this sudden revelation, Ender cannot cope with his existence, and only finds redemption in religion. In both texts, the composers use textual forms to highlight the idea that computers are used to create a simulation which absorbs the user, hiding them from the realities of life.
In his article, The Precession of Simulacra, Baudrillard establishes simulation as a copy of an original or otherwise reality. This concept is even apparent in the title, The Precession of Simulacra, since precession is something that precedes or comes first, and a simulacrum is an image or representation of something else; in that sense, the title literally states that an image precedes its original. Thus, Baudrillard argues that simulation adopts a reality effect in which the viewer’s view of the real world is skewed and this notion is easily seen throughout the CSI episode of “The Living Doll.”
I chose the issue of differentiating simulation from reality because I am passionate about considering the effects of developing A.I. without thinking of the consequences of creating something that could harm us. Jon Kofas states in Artificial Intelligence: Socioeconomic, Political and Ethical Dimensions: “Cyberculture that has created virtual communities raises philosophical questions about identity, relationships, values, the withering of real community culture, and lifestyles that will largely be determined by the AI industry” (Kofas). Kofas’s concerns revolving around the growing cyberculture reflects similar concerns of my own. Cloudhive, the company that develops IMAGINE technology, creates a product so powerful that they violate the
Great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates and Descartes developed theories thousands of years ago which changed the thought processes of many. These theories today are still influencing the lives of others. The Matrix, a very well-known movie released in 1999, retelling Plato’s theory, questioned the existence of reality and /or what we perceive as reality. The Matrix, Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ and Descartes ‘Meditation I’, all have similar views on reality, illusion and truth.
When it comes to what is “real,” versus “fake,” stipulations have long been made against this life people are living and what their matter actually composes of. The Warner Bros. Pictures, “The Matrix,” tells a story of a man who finds out the entirety of his life he is living is a lie. Rather than a conscious being with free will, he is rather someone who is controlled by a computer and fed the illusion that he is making choices. In this movie, there is another character Cypher, who wants to be ignorant to the truth and return to his old way of life, he mutters the famous saying, “Ignorance is bliss” (The Matrix, 1999). However, this way of thinking is not new.
Even at a first glance, Cameron Stewart’s webcomic Sin Titulo seems to be fraught with mystery, uncertainty and a certain sense of foreboding. It’s fast-paced and pulls the reader in immediately with its questions of existentialism as it blurs the line between dream spaces and reality. There is anxiety, paranoia and the text is full of philosophical paradoxes and references. Above all, however, the text grapples with the question of what reality is, how human beings perceive it, and if it is possible to simulate it. This is directly in line with Jean Baudrillard’s philosophical treatise of Simulacra and Simulation, which examines the link between reality, society, and symbols. With this concept in mind, Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo can be read as a postmodern expression of paranoia about life being reduced to a simulation of reality where the original is lost and where there is a precession of simulacra.
“What is real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain”(Morpheus from The Matrix). A ground breaking work of art that forces us to question everything we think we know to some, and a narcissistic, self absorbed movie that takes itself and its ideas way to seriously to others; The Matrix is one of those movies that you either completely love or undeniably hate. With it's strong philosophical themes on the nature of our perception of reality, The Matrix could easily be considered a modern take on Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
Despite the age and immensity of the Universe, we have not been visited nor been contacted by extraterrestrial beings because we are a part of a computer simulation. According to the Simulation Hypothesis, theory provided by Nick Bostrom, humans are unaware of being part of this computer generated simulation. The most compelling piece of evidence that supports this hypothesis is the fact to one can consider a sequence of possible situations which an increasing fraction of all people live in simulations becomes more accurate. (Bostrom 1)
This is a great way to explain the probability of us being a simulation. It is agreeing with my thesis thoroughly. With the chance that we might be a computer generated civilization and not even know it. This does not disprove my thesis about our own world being a simulation. We as a civilization could be 50 years or 1,000 years away from making an advanced simulated world.