The idea that we're living in a simulated reality, a real live Matrix, isn't new. It was notably popularized by the philosopher Nick Bostrom back in 2003, and has since been hotly debated by some of the world's best minds. Even Elon Musk thinks the odds are quite good that we are. Essentially, to oversimplify a bit, the theory is that the universe is so vast that other highly intelligent civilizations must exist -- ones with computing power that far exceeds our own, capable of running grand simulations. We may simply be the simulation of some civilization's ancestors, set up for entertainment purposes, or to run tests on the emotional effects of particular world events on our "artificial" minds. It's a bonkers idea to wrap your head around, but within the realm of possibility.
So how exactly does the seemingly random Best Picture flub factor into this? Gopnick posits that the Oscars screwup is just the latest in a series of wildly unexpected outcomes that have manifested lately, which suggests something has either gone haywire in the simulation, or a prankster has taken over control of it. The logic follows that a string of recent bizarre scenarios -- the shocking US election results, this year's bizarre Superbowl comeback, and now the Oscars flub -- provides mounting evidence that something is... off. Perhaps we're being tested to see how we respond emotionally to a seismic shifting of "normal"? Or this is all a weird joke? Of course, to buy into that notion, you'd need to be open to the possibility that this is all just a simulation in the first place.
Then again, history is long, coincidences are coincidences, and many, many unexpected and "weird" events have shifted civilization's concept of "normal" over time. But hey, maybe that's just what I've been programmed to say.
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