It might be time to think even beyond artificial intelligence (AI) and a hypothetical future when AI overtakes its human creators to rule the world. Next on the horizon could be what's known as the "simulation singularity" — when a simulated reality is indistinguishable from the real thing ... unless it's better.
That was the sci-fi future evoked at London's Digital Shoreditch festival by engineer Andy Fawkes, who works for global software company Bohemia Interactive Simulations. Imagine living in a very realistic video game.
"In a sense, I think in some regards it's already happening," Fawkes told Motherboard. In his Shoreditch talk he pointed to driving simulators that are nearly visually indistinct from actual road footage. In the military, pilots learn to fly using simulators that effectively trick the brain into thinking it's really controlling an aircraft.
Full-blown virtual realities, of course, require more than simply convincing visuals. They also need things like texture, movement, reactivity. Sometimes the best help filling in gaps comes from the human brain itself, often eager to suspend disbelief for the sake of a new adventure.
The brain, notes Fawkes, is the "ultimate simulator." Which leaves Motherboard to wonder: What if we have already constructed the "reality" we're living today?