The Big Idea: Is life a simulation?

As a philosophy professor at NYU, David Chalmers focuses on the concept of consciousness: questions of what the mind perceives as reality. He asks: How do we know we're not in a simulation where everything is an illusion? How do we know we aren't living in a simulation -- a mastery of complex algorithms -- creating a cosmic artificial world all set up by our ancestors or some other intelligent being? These concepts sound very red pill-blue pill Neo in the Matrix.

Hod Lipson is a professor of engineering at Columbia University. He specializes in robotics. He says that the simulation theory is controversial but it is technologically possible.

Possible? Really? He says that artificial intelligence is progressing at an exponential rate. 40 years ago all we had was Pong. Now games are immersive and life-like.

Billionaire and Space X founder Elon Musk believes that centuries from now humans will have the capability to create beyond what we can imagine. He shocked the tech world by putting the odds we're not in someone else's simulation at 1 in 1 billion. Musk says humans will either create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality or civilization will cease to exist.

But Musk is wrong, according to Peter Morgan, the chief artificial intelligence officer with Ivy Data Science, a company specializing in AI education.

He says there are ways to test the limits of our physical world, such as by measuring cosmic rays. he says that if we were living in a simulation, the energy distribution from the rays would be asymmetric. So far, good for us. He says everything lines up.

Winslow Burleson, the director of the NYU-X lab at the College of Nursing, says that what the debate really boils down to is a fundamental question of humanity. Why are we here? He says you can't necessarily know if god exists or not, but you can take it on faith. He says that and whether we are in a simulation are very profound questions. He says he just tries to be the best person he can be, explore and discover, and foster that in other people.

That is life as we know it.