What made The Matrix a cool movie, aside from all the kung fu and armless sunglasses, was the philosophical riddle it posed: how do we know we’re not living in an artificial computer simulation?
Are our lives, experiences and memories merely bits of binary data being crunched by some robot using our bodies as biofuel?
If the theatrical oeuvre of Keanu Reeves is to be taken seriously — which it must certainly be — we need to consider the possibility that everything we experience is merely an artificial construct in some kind of uber-computer run by our descendants.
It’s a noggin-boggling concept first suggested by a 2003 paper by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, and now a group of physicists from the University of Washington intend to test the idea.
How? By performing lattice quantum chromodynamics calculations, of course. If you want to venture further down that road, go read about it yourself, Poindexter.
The upshot is that the scientists intend to model a teensy-weensy portion of the universe (the best they can do with present-day supercomputing horsepower) and look for telltale signatures that might indicate a simulation.
In other words, they’re going to take the red pill.
Quoth Keanu: “Whoa.”