‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ documentary explores the dark side of simulation theory

What happens when simulation theory becomes more than a fascinating thought experiment?

Credit: A Glitch in the Matrix / Rodney Ascher
  • Simulation theory proposes that our world is likely a simulation created by beings with super-powerful computers.
  • In "A Glitch in the Matrix," filmmaker Rodney Ascher explores the philosophy behind simulation theory, and interviews a handful of people who believe the world is a simulation.
  • "A Glitch in the Matrix" premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is now available to stream online.
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How sci-fi helps humanity avoid species-level mistakes

Technology of the future is shaped by the questions we ask and the ethical decisions we make today.

  • Robots (from the Czech word for laborer) began appearing in science fiction in the early 1900s as metaphors for real world ideas and issues surrounding class struggles, labor, and intelligence. Author Ken MacLeod says that the idea that robots would one day rebel was baked into the narrative from the start. As technologies have advanced, so too have our fears.
  • "Science fiction can help us to look at the social consequences, to understand the technologies that are beginning to change our lives," says MacLeod. He argues that while robots in science fiction are a reflection of humanity, they have little to do with our actual machines and are "very little help at all in understanding what the real problems and the real opportunities actually are."
  • AI has made the threat of "autonomous killer robots" much more of a possibility today than when Asimov wrote his three laws, but it's the decisions we make now that will determine the future. "None of these developments are inevitable," says MacLeod. "They're all the consequences of human actions, and we can always step back and say, 'Do we really want to do this?'"

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13.8: Why we’re here

Welcome to the 13.8 relaunch, a new Big Think column led by physicists and friends Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser.

Credit: Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • 13.8 is relaunching on Big Think today! Visit 13.8 every week to join physicists Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser as they tackle the big, serious, silly, and small questions in science.
  • What will you learn at 13.8? Adam and Marcelo will look critically at straight-up science news, from life in the universe and cognitive science to particle physics and everything that blows their minds.
  • They're also going to spend a lot of ink on where science and culture meet. That means book and movie reviews, pieces on the overlap between Buddhist views on mind and current neuroscience, and how we can tackle climate change in the face of science denial.
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Can scientists find the ‘holy grail’ of Alzheimer’s research?

Clinical trials at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research focus on stabilizing cognitive loss and alleviating the psychotic symptoms that change our loved ones.

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  • Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that is estimated to affect twice as many Americans by 2050, making it a troubling eventuality for many young adults.
  • There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's, but clinical trials of immunotherapy approaches show promise.
  • Immunotherapies may also alleviate the psychotic symptoms of Alzheimer's, like agitation, aggression, and paranoia.
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Workplace disrupted – five themes that will define the future of work

The best time to start was yesterday, the second best is now.

Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

Last year the Government of India announced ground-breaking measures that ease several registration and compliance requirements to enable employees of IT and BPO companies to work from anywhere, permanently.

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