Every year, late July, I meet with my geek friends at euskal.org, a computer enthusiasts party where we share our love for computers, undersleep and follow a strict diet of pizza and energy drinks.
Last year I was able to play with an HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset, and I’ve been wanting to get one ever since. The VR experience was amazingly immersive.
I played “starwars, trials on Tatoonie” and by putting my headset on I was no longer in Spain, I was in the desert of Tatoonie, I could look around me and see everything as I would expect to see in normal reality. By putting the headphones on, the immersion was complete. Not only could I see things, but I also could hear R2D2 and Han Solo speaking to me, the Millennium Falcon engines roar and the hum of my lightsaber.
Elon Musk thinks there is a “one in Billions” chance our reality is not a simulation. At the rate of advance of technology, simulations and videogames are becoming every time more realistic, from pong being two lines and a dot 40 years ago to the photorealistic games we have today. We are clearly in a trajectory to build games that are indistinguishable from reality. Maybe it could take us 10.000 years to get there, but on a cosmic timescale this is not much time. If we accept we will at some point be able to create a simulated reality, with individuals existing within its confines, then, since mathematics will be the same, at some point the inhabitants of this sub-reality will themselves be able to create a sub-sub-reality, and so on indefinitely. Once you accept this argument has no flaw, the next logical question is: are we in a simulation? are we in base reality?
A hypervisor is a piece of software that sits between the hardware and the operating system of a computer, providing it a simulated hardware. The operating system does not know it is running within the confines of a virtual machine.
In 2006, Joanna Rutkowska presented at the Black Hat Briefings an attack named “blue pill rootkit” against the Windows Vista kernel protection mechanism. This attack moved Windows to a virtual machine, so the operating system seemed to run normally, but in reality the machine was owned by the hacker, who could run other software on the hardware outside of the virtual machine.
Rutkowska also developed “red pill”, which would allow an operating system to know whether it was running within the confines of a simulation or on real hardware.
If one of the simulated realities was able to detect whether or not it was living within a simulation, similar to “red pill”, it could communicate with the outer environment, even hack into it running arbitrary code. God could be hacked.