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September 2016

Thought Experiment 6 - The Computer Simulation

The cyberpunk classic The Matrix  imagined a future where people live simulated lives projected by computers 

 
Elon Musk referenced the concept this past summer in an interview where he said we could be living in a computer simulation.


Absurd? Maybe... but it makes for an interesting "what if" thought experiment in shifting perception. You'll want to read the introduction 6 Thought Experiments to Inspire Innovation if you haven't already as it sets up this context of thought experiments as a tool for innovation.


Now, if you are intrigued by the concept, let's set up a framework to continue playing with the concept of the Computer Simulation Thought Experiment:


Can you imagine how things would be different if Musk is right and we are in a simulation? .... if you found you are living in a big video game and nothing you experience is real in the manner you thought it was?


How would the awareness of living in such a simulation affect your perspective on things you may have previously considered obstacles?


Now, to take things up a level, imagine that you discover you are actually the programmer of the reality game projecting your consciousness into the game to become the character you thought you were. As the programmer, you can leave the virtual reality and change the game in any way you like before reentering it.


Knowing this, how would you change it?


After doing so, how would things be different when you re-entered the identity of the game character you thought you were?

 

Let yourself slip into a daydream state (NOT while driving or operating heavy machinery!) and spend enough time with these questions for interesting new thoughts to emerge...

 

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Thoughts experiments like this one, The Model of Excellence, The Time Machine, or The Abstract Sculpture may not come easily at first. Most people aren't used to thinking in such out of the box ways. Then again, most people aren't experiencing the benefits of regularly generating  innovative ideas. So, if that's the case for you, maybe you can consider it like a first exercise session that wakes up a body that has been sedentary. With enough frequency and intensity, staying at it means you will make regular progress and, eventually, transformation.


In NLP , we call thought experiments like this "reframes" (link to NLP blog post). When you are in a rut, putting a different frame around the situation can bring the fresh perspectives, new soundtrack, and different feelings that facilitate the breakthroughs that take things to new levels.