Does God Believe in Elon Musk?
Why does it sometimes appear to be brilliant inventor Elon Musk has a nervous breakdown? Could it's because he knows an enormous , awful truth that the remainder folks don’t?
Musk, the quirky CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, made headlines in the week when he told Axios that “humans must merge with machines to beat the ‘existential threat’ of AI .” He, of course, has made similar arguments before. And, as worried as i'm about AI (and i'm really, really worried) what stood bent me wasn't such a lot that argument as another one. Musk said, again, that he’s unsure that reality is, well, real. “Maybe we’re during a simulation,” he told journalists Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei.
The life-is-a-computer-simulation idea, and Musk’s thoughts thereon , are the topic this month in an essay by Walter Kirn during this month’s issue of Harper’s magazine. Kirn defines the simulation theory, pioneered by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, because the concept a “machine-based, multidimensional deception contrived by beings we may never meet, and for reasons we may never know” are essentially running the universe the way we'd play a computer game . We aren't real, and neither is that the world around us, and these beings may prefer to turn the sport off “at any time as mysteriously and arbitrarily as they turned it on.”
Kirn finds the idea “metaphysically destabilizing and existentially humiliating,” and writes that it ultimately leaves him feeling cold and flat. So, he wonders, why would Elon Musk work so hard to enhance the planet if he thinks it'd rather be phony? “Perhaps his drive to create was sharpened by knowing the planet itself was consciously designed and engineered,” Kirn speculates. “Or maybe the concept had freed him by dispelling his fear of death.”
Kirn concludes that Musk’s seeming “breakdown” might just be a stand-in, as went on within the lives of other significant culture-makers, of a crisis in society itself. He could be within the middle of a “disintegration,” Kirn writes, but that doesn’t mean it’s just that. “Transformations are rarely pretty initially , particularly ones that liberate an individual from the confines of beliefs and attitudes that everybody else remains afraid to challenge.”
Maybe, Kirn offers, “Musk’s struggles may sometimes appear as if the labor pains of a replacement perspective toward ourselves, our machines, and therefore the prospect that we are enveloped during a reality that we will neither alter nor escape.” And, confine mind, that prospect is what Kirn thinks is that the excellent news here.
It seems to me that Kirn is partly right. Maybe Musk does, in fact, represent a society in crisis, within the throes of a digital revolution that perhaps is shaking our most elementary assumptions quite we expect . and perhaps Musk’s “80 percent” certainty that we are a simulation isn’t entirely crazy. Maybe it’s just the way he's trying to form sense of the very fact that the universe certainly seems to be quite just a random, chaotic accident. There seems to be purpose, even a narrative, behind the cosmos, and behind our individual lives. In fact, that’s the sole thanks to add up of why we might invest such a lot of our hopes and fears within the world around us. Maybe what Musk is trying to spot may be a wisdom behind it all (Jeremiah 10:12), an intelligence that starts everything and holds it together (Colossians 1:16-17).
The problem is that the sole metaphor our digitalized, disenchanted age can find for such a mystery is that of a machine. this is often the phenomenon Wendell Berry identified years ago, because the central question of our time, whether we'll see people as creatures or as machines, whether life may be a program or a miracle. Elon Musk sees signs of purpose within the universe around him, but can only think in terms of programming instead of providence. The mystery of it all is that behind all of this is often not a shadowy group of scientists but a God who not only created and constantly upholds a really world but who loves it.
In the exact same issue of Harper’s in a piece of writing on a totally different subject, another writer, Terrance Hayes, discloses his argument with poet Mary Karr about whether language is “mostly like an animal, or a machine.” He makes his case by saying to her, “’In the start was the Word,’ we are told within the Gospel of John. We also are told that the word was made flesh, not that the word was made machine.’”
I would say that this Word does indeed explain the seeming coherence, the seeming intelligence, the seeming beauty and mystery of the planet around us, which this Word is neither animal-like nor machine-like, but personal. within the beginning wasn't the algorithm, but the Word. which Word, not a technology but an individual , “became flesh and dwelt among us, and that we have seen his glory, the glory of the sole begotten from the daddy , filled with grace and truth” (John 1:14). Perhaps that’s a word (and a Word) that Musk, and therefore the remainder of us, got to hear.
Musk is true that the mechanization threatens us quite we expect , if not in terms of extinction of the human species then certainly in terms of the extinction of our sense of what being human really is. Fighting dehumanization with super-humanization won’t work though, and will only add a fake “world” of aliens twiddling with us, not within the world where we are now, the type of world that finds people, as Percy once put it, “lost within the cosmos.”