Most of the 200,000 years modern humans have existed have been horrible. Our ancestors lives were brutal and short.
Yet we live in a peaceful country in the most comfortable time in history. You're not a Roman slave, there's no black death, you're not facing the 13th century Mongolian invasion of China.
You're not living in Afghanistan or Somalia. Pretty bloody lucky don't you think? It's almost as if the time and place you're living has been handpicked.
Well maybe it has been. Maybe none of this is real. Maybe you're in a giant computer simulation. Sounds crazy, but some respected mainstream figures think it's reasonably likely.
Professor Brian Cox is a particle physicist at the University of Manchester, host of the BBC Wonders of the Solar System, Universe and Life series. He's written nearly 1,000 published papers, an ex member of UK number one rock band D- ream and voted one of the sexiest men alive by People Magazine.
He was over here for a couple of talks last week and appeared on the Matt and Jerry Breakfast Show. I put this to him "Coxey mate, you're handsome, rich and smart, you were a chart topping rock star and now you're one of the world's most famous and loved scientist. Doesn't that seem unlikely? Do you ever think that maybe this is all just a full immersion video game you aren't aware you're playing?.
Professor Brian Cox: You're asking, could the conscious human experience in principle be simulated? Some super powerful computer that we might build in 1000 years time that could simulate the human experience? I think there is no reason why not. The brain is a physical thing. It's made of fundamental particles. It's a physical structure in the universe. In principle you can simulate that. So while it's way beyond our capabilities now. You can easily imagine it's possible and if it's possible then there is an argument that leads to the conclusion that it's likely that we are in some simulation in some vast supercomputer built in the far future. Some civilisation may well have done that and we are in it. The question is does it matter? Would you care? Your experience of the world is what it is. If it's a rich and joyful experience do we care?
Me: Well maybe we're immortal outside of this simulation or we can jump from one to the next and keep going forever. I'd care, if I got an afterlife.
Professor Brian Cox.
You're asking could you download your personality and live forever in a computer? The 2nd law of Thermodynamics would get you in the end. One of the fundamental laws of nature is everything tends toward disorder. The universe will eventually end with no structure at all. So your simulation would have to end at some point.
Me: I dunno about you Coxey, but I'd take dying in some far distant point over the pathetic 80 "years we get now. Super star inventor and entrepreneur Ion Musk is deep into the simulation idea. Last year he told the Recode's Code Conference : "Even if the rate of advancement in game realism drops by a thousand from what it is now, let's just imagine it's 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale. Given that we're on that trajectory and that these games are increasingly playable on any device the odds that we are living our lives in base reality, "real" reality - is one in billions."
Believing the world revolves completely around you is generally considered sociopathic. Most people grow out of the idea around five. But what if I am the centre of a simulated universe.
What if you are? In that case believing you are is completely sane.
One of the world's most famous and respected physicists and the world's most celebrated entrepreneur and inventor are willing to entertain this grand simulation idea. So if you accept you are how should you live your life? Probably just the same as you are. Just keep in mind when you pop out of here there may be some embarrassing replays to sit through. Particularly some of the stuff you have been doing and looking at in your own time. Having said that, if this is my simulation. One made just for me. You may not exist at all. So don't worry about it.