Riz Virk, The Simulation Hypothesis Beyond Materialism |442|


Riz Virk, expertise in computer simulation, gaming and AI push the simulation hypothesis beyond materialism.

photo by: Skeptiko

Hi everyone. I have an interview coming up in a minute with Riz Virk, the author of The Simulation Hypothesis, and a guy who keeps popping up more and more these days in all the right places. Super smart, super accomplished, with a fresh new, very imaginative and very challenging angle on this simulation, are we living in a simulation hypothesis?  He comes at things from a very advanced computer, MIT, cutting edge gaming, virtual reality, AI perspective, and that really brings a lot to the table. Here are some clips from the interview.

 Alex Tsakiris: [00:00:46] If you can do it, you will do it and the Luddites never really win, do they?

Riz Virk: [00:00:53] Yeah, I mean, if that’s one thing that we’ve generally learned in history is that if something can be done technologically, it’s likely that it will be done. When you talk about simulation, it’s the kind of thing that I lay out in my book, the 10 stages to the simulation point. So these are stages of technology that we will have to develop, and of course, I look at it from a video game perspective.

So stage one is the creation of the first text adventure games. Stage two are graphical games like Pac-Man, etc. Getting to virtual reality and augmented reality where we are today.

But what I like about the simulation hypothesis is that it provides a bridge between the materialist worldview and the worldview of the mystics and people who think that consciousness is fundamental. And that’s why I’m glad, the first thing you brought up was this distinction between Neo and Agent Smith, because that really is the fundamental tension that I tried to explore in this book is that, is consciousness just a reproduction of neurons, in which case consciousness can be reproduced? Or is it in fact a conscious entity outside that’s playing a role or playing a game?

But that’s something that I can discuss with physicists and people at MIT, and I can discuss it with Buddhist monks and I can discuss it with biblical scholars as well, because there are lots of aspects to AI and this idea that the world around us isn’t quite the real world, that perhaps there is another world that we cannot see.  

The same thing with spoon bending, right? People will say it doesn’t exist, but many people have seen it. So, I think it’s showing us that the material world is not quite what we think it is, but it’s so far out of the paradigms.

So getting back to Jacques Vallée and UFOs, I had lunch with him recently and he told me he investigated a case where there was supposedly a UFO and they said it came down at a 45 degree angle and it actually left some marks on the ground. So there was some physical evidence. So Jacques went back after the original investigation, and he looked at and he said, “You said it went in a 45 degree angle. That means it would’ve had to go through the trees.” They said, “Yeah, but we didn’t want to tell anybody that because nobody would believe us.” Which gets back to, is this a virtual phenomenon that gets materialized when it’s needed? And it’s something that we see. So, I think that’s where kind of explaining how all that works is a task that’s ongoing?

Stay with us for Skeptiko.


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Alex Tsakiris: [00:03:32] Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host Alex Tsakiris, and today we welcome the am


azing Riz Virk to Skeptiko. Riz is a super successful entrepreneur and video game creator who became a super successful high tech investor and a super successful movie producer and okay, this is getting a little ridiculous, but it’s all true folks. One more to throw in there, a super successful author of several bestselling books, including one that we’re going to talk about today, The Simulation Hypothesis.

So, Riz, fantastic to have you here. Thanks so much for joining me and welcome to Skeptiko.

Riz Virk: [00:04:30] Thanks so much for having me on.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:04:33] You know, The Simulation Hypothesis is something that all of my listeners are going to be familiar with. But jumping right into the middle of this, not wasting any time, one of the things that I thought was interesting about what you did in your book is I love how you kind of brought in the idea that there’s really more than one simulation hypothesis out there. And I thought it was particularly interesting the way you gave it from a kind of Matrix perspective and the difference between Neo and Agent Smith.

So jumping right in the middle of this, do you want to kind of tell us why there are really more than one simulation hypothesis and how you might break that down as a video game guy?

Riz Virk: [00:05:27] Yeah, sure. So the simulation hypothesis is the idea that we live inside a computer simulation, which, as you said, many of your listeners have probably have already heard of and are familiar with the concept.

So it was considered pretty much science fiction for many years, especially when The Matrix came out, but that is very much the most popular, I think incarnation of that idea. So I like to use Matrix references as much as possible, just because it’s an easy way for people to understand that.

So I break it down in that there’s actually two different versions of the simulation hypothesis, and they’re not entirely mutually exclusive, and I call those the NPC version or the non-player character version of the simulation hypothesis, where everyone is an AI. So this would be, I guess you would say this is what the materialist view of the simulation hypothesis would be, that consciousness arises from simulating neurons on a computer and therefore everyone is a computer program, or shall we say just a computer program.

The other version of the simulation hypothesis, I like to call it the RPG version or the role playing game version, is where players exist outside of the game, and then they play an avatar inside the game. So very much like I might have a character in World of Warcraft or in Fortnight or in The Matrix. So I like to use the distinction between Neo, who exists outside The Matrix and Morpheus, who was named after the Greek god of dreams, Laurence Fishburne, who also exists outside The Matrix versus Agent Smith, who is simply a computer program, and even though he’s in the simulation, appears to have godlike powers within the simulation as well. He is just an AI.

So what most people don’t realize is that when a lot of academics are talking about the simulation hypothesis, they are talking about the NPC version.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:07:26] The Agent Smith version.

Riz Virk: [00:07:29] That’s exactly right. Yeah, and the reason is, if you go back to one of the events that made this a popular topic of conversation was, Nick Bostrom’s paper in 2003, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? He’s a philosopher at Oxford. He laid out three possibilities.

One is that a civilization never reaches, what I like to call the simulation point, which is the point at which we can create a simulation or a video game that’s so realistic that it can’t be distinguished from physical reality. The second is that it reaches that point, but it never creates any simulations. And the third possibility is that we are most likely living in a simulation. And he says that is because if a civilization ever gets there, anywhere in the galaxy, then they will create lots and lots of simulations. Inside those simulations will be billions, if not trillions of beings in each one, and you might have billions of those.

So if you just add up all of the beings in the universe, there’s more likely to be more simulated beings than there are beings who actually have a player associated with them.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:08:33] Multiple Agent Smiths, like we see, and then multiple simulations. One of the things that I really thought was quite great, that you drilled this home is the, “if you can, you will,” kind of thing. And I think it plays into so much of what we’ve experienced, both, not just in computer technology, but in the advancement of technology and the advancement of civilization. If you can do it, you will do it, and the Luddites never really win, do they?

Riz Virk: [00:09:09] Yeah, I mean, if that’s one thing that we’ve generally learned in history is that if something can be done technologically, it’s likely that it will be done and when you talk about simulation, it’s the kind of thing that I lay out in my book, the 10 stages to the simulation point. So these are stages of technology that we will have to develop and of course, I look at it from a video game perspective.

So stage one is the creation of the first text adventure games. Stage two are graphical games like Pac-Man, etc. Getting to virtual reality and augmented reality where we are today, and by stage 10 we would get to downloadable consciousness where we can actually get right into a character that’s based on silicon, and that might come through brain computer interfaces. So if you remember in The Matrix, Neo had that wire connected to the back of his head.

So in a simulation hypothesis, the idea is if anyone ever gets there, then it’s likely they’ve already made many, many different simulations. So I think that’s a really interesting point and it’s a good way to think about how things might evolve.

It’s kind of eye opening for people too, because some people will buy the concept that we will get there, and we will create realistic simulations, but making that leap to, well then somebody else has already created one or more, it is a conceptual leap.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:10:35] We’ll come back to this in a minute, because the kind of thing I would interject in there is, I think there’s a lot of different permutations and combinations along that path that are interesting too, including augmented consciousness, augmented reality, all of those things, and I don’t know that it really breaks down as just those two, but interesting stuff to talk about.

But let me jump to another topic that again, is a real head scratcher, but adds so much to the conversation and you bring this to the for in a really cool way, because you do have this super great background in computer game development and AI, and that’s this idea that you only render what you need. And then you do a fantastic job of linking that back to, like physics, like the most important experiment in quantum physics ever, like the double slit collapse, the wavefunction thing. You beautifully linked those two together, tell us about that.

Riz Virk: [00:11:41] One of the reasons I wrote this book and about a third of the book is about the technology, about a third is about the physics, including what we’re talking about here, and a third is about religions and consciousness, and we can talk about that in a minute. But when I look at the really big mysteries in quantum physics, the question that doesn’t get answered is why do these exist?

So with the idea of the double slit experiment, there’s this idea that a particle will go through one slit or the other, but you don’t know that until somebody is there to observe it. And probably a better way to explain that is through Schrodinger’s cat, right? The cat is either alive or dead, and common sense tells us that it’s one or the other, but quantum physics tells us it’s both possibilities until and unless somebody actually opens up the box to look at that cat. So that reminded me a lot of video games and how we develop video games.

So if you were to ask a video game developer in the 80s, “Can you render a fully 3D world like World of Warcraft or like Fortnight or like Call of Duty?” The answer is no. There wasn’t enough computing power to render all of those pixels and to keep track of every single one of those on the 286s or whatever laptops we had back in those days. Yes today, we have fully 3D virtual words that are rendered on your laptop or are rendered within goggles, and the reason we can do that is because of optimization.

One of the first games to really use this was Doom back in the 1990s, which became popular in college campuses, and if you look at Doom you’ll see it’s a first person perspective and they shift to the left or right. So they optimize and they only render those pixels which can be observed by your avatar. So that is the golden rule for optimization which allows for, what we call conditional rendering in the world of video games.

Now, looking at it as a video game designer, that’s a lot like what quantum indeterminacy is like in the physical world. I mean, why do things only get rendered when they’re observed? Why is it that the particle makes a decision at some point, when somebody looks at the interference pattern and only then has it gone through one slit or the other? So, it seems like the golden rule in quantum physics is only render pieces of the world which can be observed. So that’s one of the big linkages that I like to talk about.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:14:25] So if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, well, we wouldn’t render the sound of the tree, so there’s kind of no need to go there, right?

Riz Virk: [00:14:34] Right, exactly. So there’s this idea of the rendered world, and then there’s this idea of information in the cloud. So there might be some information about that tree in the cloud, but if nobody is logged into that particular scene in the video game, then there’s no reason to render it.

So this brings up a bigger question, which is, is there a shared rendered world that we are all seeing at the same time? And one of the pictures I provide in the book is a picture from a game in the 80s called King’s Quest. King’s Quest was kind of a 2D adventure game. What happens is, all the render, all the pixels of every scene are there on disc, they’ve already been rendered, and when you move your character around, you just move over to the pixels and you show the next set of pixels.

Well, that was how we used to do video games and that was very memory intensive. Now, we don’t have a shared rendered world, we only render the part that you’re seeing, and we only render the part that somebody else is seeing from their computer. So each of us has a rendering device, which is our computer or our phone and it’s kind of like you and I having this conversation. We are not in the same room and yet it seems like we are having a conversation because each of our machines is rendering a set of pixels based on information that’s being sent from the server.

Now, the materialists point of view is that there is a shared rendered world, that the pixels of the world are already there and we just move around it and the big mystery, what quantum physics is saying is that that’s not necessarily the case and we don’t know why, but so much of computer science and video game development is about optimization and compression. It turns out, these are really good explanations for why these things might actually exist.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:16:25] That’s fantastic and it leads into this whole question of materialism versus idealism philosophically, but it’s just the same questions we’ve been talking about in probably 200 shows on Skeptiko about consciousness.

What you’re really bringing to the table, I think, is this fresh perspective that people are already getting a sense of, that when we look at it from this cutting edge, AI, artificial intelligence, information systems perspective, I swear you almost make me want to come back around and re-examine materialism, even though I think I already know that it’s kind of completely out the window and has been falsified by every experiment that’s ever been done. I mean, every experiment that’s ever been done on the double slit experiment is confirming of it, right? There are no disconfirming experiments. So they run it one way, then they run it another way, and then they reflect it over, everything they do, it always comes out the same way.

It’s just really, really hard to accept, and I’m wondering if at the end of the day, do you really come around to being friendly to the materialist idea, or as this quote from your book suggests, the most important aspect of the simulation hypothesis may not be scientific at all. And what I took that to mean is, if we really take this stuff seriously, then it brings us to the point of whether we can really measure anything at all, and if we can’t measure anything, then isn’t science kind of obsoleted in a way?

Riz Virk: [00:18:06] Well, you know, I view science as trying to discover the rules of the physics engine of the game, right? And when we make video games, we have a rendering engine, we have a physics engine that controls how you move, and there’s some kind of a design or layout that’s inherent in the system. So I view most scientists, still working on trying to discover those rules, but they haven’t necessarily asked the big questions.

Even within quantum physics, there’s the famous quote, “Just shut up and calculate,” don’t try to think about what it means, and the double slit experiment, in various versions, gets weirder and weirder. And from my perspective, one of the weirdest aspects of it is the delayed choice experiment, which is this idea that it’s not just a matter of whether it went through slit A or slit B, but something else happens down the road, another choice that happens in the future.

Probably a better way to explain this is if you have light from a star or a galaxy coming at us, there’s a black hole in the middle. Does the light go to the left or the right of the black hole? Well, if that black hole is a thousand light years away from us, that decision was made a thousand years ago, but the delayed choice experiment is telling us that it doesn’t actually get made until there’s an observer looking at the light. So now you have this situation where it’s not just a matter of slit A or slit B, but the whole path can be changed from today, from the present moment.

So this sounds much more like what the mystics have been telling us all along, that the present moment is the only one that exists, and that consciousness is fundamental.

But what I like about the simulation hypothesis is that it provides a bridge between the materialist worldview and the worldview of the mystics and people who think that consciousness is fundamental. And that’s why I’m glad, the first thing you brought up was this distinction between Neo and Agent Smith, because that really is the fundamental tension that I tried to explore in this book is that, is consciousness just a reproduction of neurons, in which case consciousness can be reproduced? Or is it in fact a conscious entity outside that’s playing a role or playing a game?

But that’s something that I can discuss with physicists and people at MIT, and I can discuss it with Buddhist monks and I can discuss it with biblical scholars as well, because there are lots of aspects to AI and this idea that the world around us isn’t quite the real world, that perhaps there is another world that we cannot see.


Alex Tsakiris: [00:20:58] Yeah, you can discuss it with them Riz, because you like to play nice, that’s really what it amounts to because all of the experiments and all of the evidence points in one direction.  Risk cause you like to play nice. That’s really what it amounts to because all the experiments and all the evidence points in one direction.

And I, you know, I mentioned to you that I just had an interview not too long ago with. Donald Hoffman, who was, of course, a very, very skilled and accomplished physicist. And he’s kind of more direct, you know, and I always liked this quote I have up on the screen, you know, Stephen Hawking, who famously said at a Google conference that, philosophers have not kept up with the science and their art is dead.

And I think what Don Hoffman and really everyone in psy research and. Near death experience, research and cutting edge. Consciousness research has told us for the, at least the last 20 years, is that material is scientists have not kept up with the art and that their art is dead.

You know? Because. Like on this show, one thing we’ve done is examine near death experience. Every near death experience. Researcher’s serious near death experience researchers, people have published in major medical journals and publish in major peer reviewed psychology journals. They all come to the same conclusion.

The one that I have up on the screen here from dr Sam Barney, who’s one of the leading resuscitation experts in the world. I mean, he’s a doctor. That’s his full time job is resuscitation, and he kind of on the side does near death experience research. And the conclusion is the same is that consciousness seems to, in some way, we don’t totally understand, survive bodily death.

So I mean. Aren’t we really just kind of propping up these materialists because we don’t want to because, they own the mic right now. That is the dominant paradigm and number two, we’re just not comfortable. None of us are comfortable with the. Implications of all this, which are that space time is doomed.

Like you said, the idea that there is this, we’re living in this linear space time, well, that’s out the window. Neo Darwinism. No one ever talks about it, but that’s completely out the window with all this to science as we know what is out the window, it’s doomed because we can no longer measure. There’s no longer really anything to measure, and as.

Don Hoffman says, you know, quite directly in his Ted talk that’s got 3 million views. Reality is doomed. So are we kinda prop and these guys up? Because that’s what playing nice means right now.

Riz Virk: [00:23:44] yeah, but that’s one way to describe it. I mean, I, I would describe it also though, as a way to provide a bridge and to provide an understanding.

I mean, I think one of the reasons why is even in your quote, you said, you know, the self exists beyond death in some ways that we don’t quite understand. Right. And so, you know, I think the current paradigm, you know, it reminds me a little bit of a, you know, scientists used to say that. There is no way that media rights could fall from the sky, and scientists said, that’s because there are no rocks in the sky.

Therefore, there’s obviously no way rocks could fall from the sky. Even though there were many people that had seen rocks fall from the sky, and there was even evidence where people said, here’s a rock that fell in the sky, but they had no way back then. They didn’t have the tools to verify that. Right? So eventually.

There was a huge media shower over repair and the least, the scientist said, you know, one of the universities there were forced to admit that rocks were falling from the sky. And so it’s like when something is outside the current paradigm, people have a hard time getting there. I think the current paradigm is very much like stuck.

in the 1980s world of PCs, there’s a famous quote from Steve jobs where he didn’t want to put a network connector, in the first Macintosh because he said, who would want to be connected to their office when they’re at home? Right? So it’s like each one of us is a separate PC that’s not connected.

But what happens with technology is it’s gotten much more advanced than we realize that by connecting these, we can come up with something much more powerful. We can do many things that we couldn’t do. And so getting back to. You know, if nature is always moving towards more sophistication, then probably just as we took our computers and made them network, there is a networking element to life itself that we haven’t yet discovered.

so, but I think, you know, the bridge really is information. All right. so in the. In the world of the simulation. I bought this as I like to say that, you know, the physical world is a world of information and I think that agrees with what you know. Donald Hoffman would say, I like his analogy that if you have a desktop, you’d see a file.

But really that file doesn’t exist as like a blue square. That’s just how it happens to be rendered, you know, within your agent of consciousness. It really exists as a series of bits and as a set of information. And I think that, you know, the more science looks for matter, right? They keep opening the, the, you know, they open Adam and it’s 99.9% space.

They look for the electrons and find they’re not really there. And then they go inside the protons and neutrons and at the bottom level. You know, what they’re getting is information. Right. And there’s a famous quote from a physicist named John Wheeler that I use in my book, which is, he coined the phrase it from bit, right?

That. Everything that is in it, that is a physical object is actually a representation of bits of information, right? And I think that that is the bridge. so computer science becomes, in a way, the bridge between the materialist point of view and sort of the consciousness point of view. Because what we think of as something real just doesn’t exist.

But surrender for us. You know, when, when we need it for whatever reason. but even people in consciousness. Haven’t quite been able to explain the nature of this shared reality. Right? So I think this is where things become, you know, slightly complicated. But I was very intrigued by near-death researchers.

And in fact, during, this writing of this book, I interviewed Dannion Brinkley, who you may know of who wrote save by the light. He was struck by lightning. And you know, he said that one of the things that happened to him, after he was dead was that he had a life review and he called it a panoramic.

Three 60 life review where he saw in vivid three dimensional detail every event from his entire life. Right. Except that he had to see it from the point of view of the people that he had done things to, and he was in the military, so he literally had shot people, and so he had to experience what that was like from the other point of view.

You know, I’m a video game designer, so I like to say, well, how would this work if this is in fact the case? And the life review has been reported by many, not necessarily all but many near death experiences. And in order to do that, you have, you would have to record everything that’s been going on and what it turns out in video games, we do that all the time.

I mean, there’s a whole industry now of streaming on Twitch and YouTube. E-sports has become like the news sports, right? People under 30 don’t really watch football as much as they watch people playing competitive video games. And in one of my startups, we would take a three dimensional game, like league of legends or Counterstrike, go CS.

Go is a good one. Since we were just talking about shooting someone where your character might actually shoot someone. And we took the hat and we recorded it in three D, even though I was playing it on a twoD  screen, and you’re playing it on a twoD  screen, and then you put on a virtual reality glasses, and we could put you at any point inside the game so you could literally see what it was like to be the person that you shot.

Right now we don’t have emotions. In our video games. But it provides, I think, a pretty good model for how this material reality might actually work. and how some of the things that, people who’ve been studying consciousness and near the experiences have been telling us. You know, how those might work.

And, and this is where it ties to religions. And some people get upset that I included a whole section in my book on, on religions. Um. And of course in the, in the Eastern traditions, you don’t even have to draw an analogy, right? Basically they’re telling us that we exist outside of the physical world. You download into a body, you play a role for a period of time.

You upload out, and then you have a set of information. Karma that’s stored. What happens to that information? Well, it’s used to create situations for you in your next role, and so you go back into the physical world is in another role. And so you’ve got kind of, Buddha’s endless wheel is better described as an algorithm.

it turns out we don’t need. the Lords of karma. we just need a very sophisticated computer generated reality. and in the Islamic traditions, there’s this idea of recording angels and in the Christianity and Judaism as well. I think I have a picture, of, you know, recording angel. It’s a statute in Washington D C we’re supposed to be writing down everything that happens to you in your life.

Well, we don’t need 14 billion angels writing down all our good deeds and our bad deeds. What we really need is just AI to record. What’s happening inside this game so that it can be played back. And so, you know, my approach to this was how will does all this work? How can we come up with an explanation that we can at least understand,

Alex Tsakiris: [00:30:38] well I love all that in you.

And Don Hoffman might be the white Knights in this whole process, but I’m not so sure that they’re, everyone is playing the role of the, of the white Knight in terms of. The bridge to the more enlightened kind of thing. But I did want to come back and touch on this idea of karma and AI, and you wrote a very excellent article.

I don’t know how you do everything you do. I don’t know how you crank out this stuff, but it’s amazing. But here’s an article you wrote, religion and the simulation hypothesis is God and a I. But you know where I kind of pulled up short on this is don’t we get into the problem of.  infinite regress and turtles all the way down.

I mean, if I look at it kind of from a different perspective, if there are rules, if there is karma, karma is rules for a computer gamer, like you and rules suggest a moral imperative and a moral imperative suggests a hierarchy of consciousness. Yeah. The hierarchy of consciousness suggest God so. I’m not sure where in there there’s any room for AI other than as a, you know, tool for God to kind of keep track of notes or something.

Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s kind of how I presented it. Not so much a, the, the title was, is got an AI, but really, it’s more, are a lot of the things that the religions have been telling us, you know, implemented through some AI. I mean, if you think of. The term angel, angel means messenger, right? And in computer science we have this, we use an old Greek term that de Mon, which is used for processes that run.

And so angels are supposed to be beings outside of the material world who are watching us and who are recording, make things. And perhaps you have this idea of guardian angels. So you have all of these different aspects of beings that are not. In the physical world. and so the simulation hypothesis actually makes that so that these angels might in fact just be AI.

and you do get into this idea of regress sometimes, right? So if we can create a simulation. We would appear to be gods, you know, to those people inside the simulation, because we can change the rules of that simulation and we can make things appear, you know, in midair, for example. Right? and the people in the scene, they would be like, wow, that’s a miracle.

Like, where did that thing come from? It wasn’t there a minute ago. I mean, we do it all the time in video games, right? In fact, we even render, do conditional rendering based upon the level. So if you, and I. Are inside a scene and you’re a level two character, and I’m a level 30 character. the server can decide the level 30 character.

We’ll see this being or angel and the level two character will not see this because they’re all being rendered inside each of our computers, which is kind of like us rendering in our brains or as part of our own consciousness. Right? so, so there is this idea that would appear supernatural. To people that are stuck inside the simulation might actually just be rules that are being determined by someone outside the simulation.

Now, the question of levels isn’t an interesting one because if you say, well, there’s a level outside this, could it be that there’s another simulation outside of that? Right? and then you get back to this. Well, hold on.

I mean, you can’t, you can’t not ask that question. I mean, that is the first question that pops up is the problem of infinite regress.

Right? So it’s turtles all the way down. Well, it’s a simulation of what? Well, it’s a simulation of a simulation of a simulation of a simulation. But then as soon as you get into that game, eventually you’re saying.  you’re talking about God then, you know, so it’s like, it doesn’t matter how many intermediate steps to really have, and that’s the other problem with this base reality that kind of creeps into this.

You know, I always call it backdoor materialism, you know? It’s kind of like, okay, we’re going to get away from materialism until we need it, and then we’re going to come back door. And in here again, it’s like, no, if consciousness is fundamental, then all of this is in consciousness. So the simulation is. In consciousness, the rules are in consciousness.

God is in consciousness. It’s not, we can never be outside of it if we’re, if it’s fundamental.

Riz Virk: [00:35:10] Right. But so, you know, that’s one way to think of it is God is in consciousness. But another way to think of it is if you, if you take the RPG version, right? cause obviously if you take the NPC version. You’re, you’re limited by computing power, and you can have so many version simulations within simulations within simulations, but in this case, if you think the RPG version, you know, you say, okay, there’s a version of us that’s outside.

Okay. In in base reality. But if that’s the simulation, there’s another version that’s outside in base reality. But what is that version? My point is that it becomes less material, not necessarily more material. Although, you know, within a lot of simulation discussions based reality means a physical world outside of the simulated world.

in the, in the RPG version, it means.


is the entity that is playing us? Right? So it’s more about the consciousness of that entity, just like in The Matrix, right? When Neo had. The, the wire connected into the back of his head when you woke up in the pod, right? That was the connection. It was a conscious connection between that person and another entity.

And at some point, you get conscious entities and perhaps that is a better definition of God than what we get in the religions is that pure consciousness is God as opposed to God is in pure consciousness, meaning that each of the individuals. If pure consciousness is the ocean, it is what’s playing all of these characters in the first simulation, and each of them are allowed to go down and experience things.

Just like people say to me, well, why would I make a simulation? I said, well, why do you play video games? We do it to experience the things. That we cannot experience outside the game, right? I mean, I can’t be a fly on a dragon and fight, you know, orcs in physical reality, but I can do it inside the fantasy type game or fly spaceships, et cetera.

And so then the question becomes, well. What would be the purpose, Chris, if this video game? Well, now we get into things like emotions and interactions, perhaps things that are not possible.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:37:26] God, we talk about love or emotions or any

Riz Virk: [00:37:31] things that don’t exist according to a lot of material, right? But, but these things may, in fact, I mean, I view most religions as a starting when someone

Outside the simulation, right? And then they came back and they told us what they saw, and it’s kind of like the three blind men and the elephant, right? Each of them saw a different part of the elephant, and they tried to describe it and say, Oh, it’s like a, you know, a snake, which is the truck, right? It’s like a tree, which is like the legs where it’s like a house, which is the body.

but they all seem to have this idea, that purpose of life. His love and to be kind to each other. where is, it gets more intricate in the ideas of karma that you are here to create experiences, which then you have to go and resolve down the road. So it’s, I view it as a tree of quests and achievements, and the more you play.

The more of these you create for yourself. And so that’s what leads to a, in in the Eastern traditions. And now there’s actually some debate even in Eastern traditions between Buddhism and Hinduism and Hinduism, there is this idea of a pure eternal soul, right? Which it could be the conscious part that comes in and it plays different lines within the Buddhist.

Point of view. the thing that goes back and forth is not necessarily a soul, but a bag of karma, if you will. So it’s a set of information, if you think of it, is you keep increasing the size of this file, but then as you remove things from the file, eventually it goes down to zero and it becomes. Pure back to pure account, whatever the, the, you know, the original thing was, which gets back to this issue of what is God?

What is pure consciousness in and of itself. But I think that simulate simulated world kind of better describes how that problem process works.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:39:23] Well, yeah. Or at least. Gives us a new way of kind of looking at it and exploring it, which is really cool because you are certainly, you know, hitting on all the main points.

I mean, even the analogy of the, the ocean and the wave and the droplets and all those things, that is the way lot of people have offered as the best explanation for what that. Sure consciousness, God, spirit being would be is kind of everything and that we see the individuated kind of self as these little droplets, but I’m still not sure I buy off on the idea that this bridge idea is going to work.

It seems to me that we’re all, the fun is where all the action is, is over in this. Extended consciousness stuff that we’re just not allowed to talk about. Cause it’s all taboo. And yet it seems. The evidence is overwhelming that there’s a reality to it. I just touched on D ease because they’re safe and we have all this science published in these great journals, but the evidence for autobody experience comes right along with the near death experience, but it also extends beyond that after death communication sigh.

I always point to Dr. Dean Raden XYX double slit experiment where he said, well, let’s. Screw all that. Let’s go right to the end game. Here’s a photon being generator, and I’m going to bring in a meditator and tell them to meditate and change the beam, and he’s going to do it or not do it. And lo and behold, he can do it and he gets a six Sigma results.

So the evidence is in all over the place. Also with remote viewing, are, and men who stare at goats and the MKUltra stuff, all the stuff, which at this point is just, I don’t know how we, we kind of are even allowed to kind of keep that in the out of discussions zone. There’s, you know, we have the department of defense is coming out and throwing the Holy Holy water on it.

And then we have the whole shamanic journeying DMT stuff. So. Is this bridge idea really the way to go here and is the simulation hypothesis and all the great stuff you’re offering us? Is it a bridge or is there a chasm there that you just have to jump over on the other side?

And then that would lead to the next question is, is there a reason that we’re not on the other side? I mean, what I always point to is. You know, Russell Targ and help put off at Sri, they were doing extended consciousness stuff for 30 years. They weren’t bound by these kinds of, Oh, it’s, we have to be lists we can, and the same with the minister at guts.

I mean, the cutting edge consciousness weaponization has been going on for a long time. And it’s just this kind of. Wink and a nod like, Oh, you, you guys in academia and in science, go continue on your little materialist way kind of thing. Any thoughts? I threw a lot on the table there and

Riz Virk: [00:42:27] yeah, you threw a lot there.

A lot of thoughts about each of those areas, but I think you know. Science has been built up by having a series of models, right? And so we don’t have a good model to explain how some of these phenomenon work. So let’s take for example. Right? so if the model is, they came here on a spaceship from another galaxy.

You know, that’s where I think a lot of regular scientists, you know, get lost a little bit and they say, Oh yeah, we’re sure there’s life out there, but we don’t see how they could have possibly gotten here because we don’t know anything that goes faster than the speed of light. Right. So again, we’re caught inside these models.

And so in order to move science along, we need to think of a different model. Now, I think one of the reasons why. The T phenomenon is so, weird and not accepted is it may actually be weirder than that simple explanation. So, you know, one of the people that I talked to in writing this book was dr Schoch valet, right.

Who, you know, has been around since the Sri days and was part of project blue book back in the day. And, you know, one of the things he told me was that. You are not a purely materialist phenomena and they’re not purely a conscious phenomenon. They’re actually both. And he said there are many instances where two people will be Spanish standing next to each other.

And one of them will see the UFO and one of them will not. Right. So again, there’s no model in the materialist point of view for how that happened. Either the craft is there or it’s not, you can’t have a situation where both are, well, turns out, if you start thinking about, you know, video games and how they work, you can, I mean, I mentioned it earlier.

If a person is. At level 30 versus level two, they might see the UFO and they might not. And so I think they’re just inexplicably, it gets to a level of inexclusive inexplicably Realty, to the point where, you know, many scientists swill individually. Admit to being interested in these things that you’re talking about.

But, as a group, you know, they seem not, they don’t want to be the first to kind of jump outside this paradigm. And, you know, a great example of this is because I talk about The Matrix. People ask me all the time, well, you know, how do you hack the matrix? Right? and I bring up the example of. The spoon bending from the movie, right.

Where, you know, th the little monk got kid tells a Neo, remember there is no spoon and that’s how you can bend it. And I believe another gentleman who was involved with Sri back in the day was Jack hock, and he started to do these spoon bending parties. And you know, one of my favorite stories is when he went to Los Alamos.

And he did this spoon bending party with a bunch of businesses and their wives, and he found that none of the physicists could bend the spoons, but their wives could. Now that was interesting because turns out it was because the physicists were together and. Any one of them individually went to a spoon bedding party where their wife, could bend spoons sometimes.

And so it becomes this kind of weird morphogenetic field, if you will, that that people are stuck, you know, in this model. And so I think to get people there, we have to present them with a model that might. Make some sense. I mean, science has been built up and has had a lot of successes in the physical world, right?

The rockets, computers, all of these things because you create models and then you validate the models. The problem is, I think most scientists say because it’s something that can’t be reproduced. In the laboratory a hundred percent of the time, and it’s outside of our paradigm. Therefore, it must not be real, right?

Same thing with spoon bending, right? People will say it doesn’t exist, but many people have seen it. So, you know, I think it’s showing us that the material world is not quite what we think it is, but. It’s so far out of the paradigms. So getting back to jock valet and your foes, you know, I had lunch with him recently and he told me he investigated a case where there was supposedly a UFO and they said it came down at a 45 degree angle and it actually left some marks.

On the ground. and so there was some physical evidence. So jock went back after the original investigation, and he, he looked at, and he looked at, you said, you said it went in a 45 degree angle. That means it would’ve had to go through the trees. They said, yeah, but we didn’t want to tell anybody that because nobody would believe us.

Which gets back to. Is this a virtual phenomenon that gets mature a lot when it’s needed? and it’s something that we see. And so, you know, I think that’s where kind of explaining how all that works is, is it a task that’s ongoing? I think. Yeah.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:47:14] Oh, great points. And, I, I, I. Tons of respect for shock belay, and he’s been on the show as has Diana Walsh Basulto, who also wrote a really nice blurb for your book.

And you know, and both these people, a lot of, I love the way you, you kind of laid it out there. Risk is a lot of people don’t get it. Jack Valais isn’t saying it’s just consciousness. He’s just saying it’s not just. Nuts and bolts. And I do think in that sense, you do offer a bridge and a, a beautiful, unique, wonderful bridge of saying, I like your term, you know, the augmented reality, augmented consciousness kind of thing, because that’s also what’s reported.

From the, the E T experience, right, is that they have an ability apparently put to manipulate consciousness. It’s like an app, you know, it’s on there, it’s on their iPhone, you know, scraping your memory. There it goes, you know, by here, be there, all that stuff. And again, it does fit nicely. Inside of the model that you’re laying out, that all the things that you just said, I won’t try and repeat them,

but the one

kind of caveat I keep coming back to is the white hat, black hat kind of thing.

, again, if you can, you do right kind of thing. Isn’t that what we’ve kind of said with this whole thing? Well, if you can. Control this level of consciousness upgrade, then aren’t you likely to do that? And are we likely to be already living in experiencing a world where there are. Individuals groups around us that have mastered this, at least a couple levels up, if you will, and are somehow controlling the game.

To me, that’s a much better explanation for this just absurdly kind of infantile view we have of consciousness, materialism, nuts and bolts. You’re a biological robot and a meaningless universe. That just seems like such a scripted. Narrative by a control group.

Riz Virk: [00:49:26] Right. So the question is, are there super users who are then saying, trying to manipulate the game to keep us thinking that we’re inside the game.


Alex Tsakiris: [00:49:36] And let’s just be clear, cause we brought up Diana Walsh plays soccer. She says she’s already met some of those people that are a couple levels up. And it begs the question, okay, if you’re a vet, if you’re able to uncover the couple levels up just by going to a couple of conferences. Are there five 10 20 levels up.

Riz Virk: [00:49:54] Oh, right. Well, that, that’s a good question. And it gets, you know, I’m a big fan of, Diana OSH Basilica and her book. And, you know, what I liked was that she brought this point of view that they have in the religious traditions, right? when they’re investigating claims of miracles and things.

You know, she mentioned that, the nun, sister Maria. That supposedly was in New Mexico at the same time she was in a monastery in Spain. I think it was. Right? And they, they say, well, let’s start not by disbelieving these, let’s just set aside whether that happened or not. And let’s study the social.

Implications of this particular belief system. And then she went into the, you know, the UFO world in the same way to not be a skeptic or a believer from day one. But to set aside that question and to study, you know, the actual phenomenon. I think that ties to, you know, jock valet has been saying for a while that he thinks there’s some kind of a deception going on, right?

It’s almost as if there are, they are testing us to see how we would react. To certain things as a civilization. Who’s the day? Right? In his case, you mentioned, you know, there’ve been, you know, ferries reported and other worldly beings reported, you know, for thousands of years, like this isn’t a new phenomenon.

People have been seeing things in the sky for many hundreds of years because we’re in a technological. age, we tend to to associate things with  spacecraft.


Alex Tsakiris: [00:51:24] Let me just interject something just to make sure we’re talking about the same thing, because we’re just having an inside baseball kind of conversation, but that’s what I like to do. But Diana Walsh Pasulka is also talking about the invisible college that’s been referenced a lot of times, and she says, “I ran into it. I ran head into it, where there are all these people who are in academia, who don’t know what’s going on, and they just are allowed to not know what’s going on. And then there’s a small group who are the super users, who do know what’s going on.”

So she goes out in the desert and Tyler takes her out there and they find pieces of an alien spacecraft, which, as well as they can verify it with the best science, that’s what it seems to be, and Tyler is able to reverse engineer it and get all sorts of biotech patents and make all sorts of money, which, good for him. But then this also goes into the invisible college, this small group that talks to each other and doesn’t talk to anyone else, who knows this stuff is going on.

And then if we extend that invisible college over to some of these extended realms that seem to be playing here, there seems to be an invisible college of ET, an invisible college of shamans, an invisible college all over the place, that’s interacting with us, that may be taking us from this kind of super user to, I don’t know what the super, super user is, but that seems to be at play.

And I wonder, when we talk about the bridge, is it a bridge or is it a chasm? Is the chasm so big there that you can’t really just get your little walking stick or your little rope bridge and climb over it, it’s just like, forget it man?

Riz Virk: [00:53:22] Yeah, I think my understanding of the invisible college reference was more to a group of researchers that were open to these ideas and knows there’s more going on. But they’re not necessarily the ones that are manipulating people to not see it, they’re just continuing their research in private, because they don’t necessarily want to be public about it, because of their concern…

Alex Tsakiris: [00:53:47] That’s not actually, that’s not what she says. What she says is she goes to a conference and one of these guys speaks up and everyone else goes, “Hey, what the hell are you doing? The rule is…” you know, the fight club rule, and that’s why she references Tyler. You know, the first rule of fight club is, don’t talk about fight club.

Riz Virk: [00:54:04] And I’ve come across academics who tell me… For example, I was speaking with a researcher in quantum physics who was at Harvard MIT and he told me that at first he thought it was just a case of, people don’t want to say this stuff because they don’t want to look ridiculous in front of their peers and they want to be able to continue to publish. So it was more like a systemic thing as opposed to a coordinated effort. Kind of a decentralized system. It’s kind of like when people say, “Oh my god, there’s a Silicon Valley conspiracy and they’re all doing X.” Well, it turns out it’s not a Silicon Valley conspiracy, it’s just a bunch of people trying to make money and they’re all following the same set of rules, but there’s not necessarily a big conspiracy, they’re all trying to get people addicted to the technology because that’s what makes them more money. So people are just following the rules.

But then, this particular researcher told me that he was now beginning to suspect that there was a coordinated effort, that whenever somebody went to talk about these unexplained phenomena, that they would be steered away, which would be closer to what you’re saying and perhaps what Diana Walsh Pasulka is saying.

And I just met with a professor at Caltech who told me that he was told in no uncertain terms by the trustees, “Steer away from this.”

So there may be a coordinated effort, I don’t have as strong of an opinion on it as I think some of the conspiracy guys do.

Alex Tsakiris: [00:55:41] Well, I think in a way, your book kind of validates that, in that if you can, you would, kind of thing, which is what I always wind up telling people who don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I was never a conspiracy theorist, at least when I started Skeptiko 10 years ago. My background, I had an AI company, way back in the day, Mind Path Technologies, I was getting my PhD in information systems at the University of Arizona, got into AI and expert systems, started doing consulting for Texas Instruments in DuPont. Way back in the day I was doing AI, but I couldn’t make any money at it.

Riz Virk: [00:56:20] Well, you know, it was tough back in the day. Nowadays the whole thing has ballooned right?

Alex Tsakiris: [00:56:23] It was bullshit back in the days, to be honest, the expert systems were kind of bullshit. But I digress with that little bit of story, but I’m just so excited about all the stuff you’ve done and then the MIT Play Lab, and all that cool stuff that you’ve done.

But what I was going to tie this back to is, if you can, you do, also applies to all the stuff we’re talking about. So if I can, with a couple of hundred million dollars direct the narrative of academic research and just leave the cheese in the maze where I want the researchers to go, well then, I do it. I don’t pull back and say, “Well, I don’t want to do that, because even though that would serve my interest and serve my agenda,” you know, if you can, you do.

So, that’s what I think people leave out of the conspiracy. Of course it’s a conspiracy. What do we know of, is it a conspiracy? Like you mentioned Silicon Valley, of course, anyone that’s been in business above the assistant manager at McDonald’s knows that it’s a conspiracy. Where you buy your hamburger buns and where you get your ketchup, it all is that way. And then the military, of course we accept that, politics we accept that. But then we kind of fall off, to say that academics are somehow immune to that. I don’t think so.

Riz Virk: [00:57:53] Well, you know, a related question is this issue of why would they not want us to know certain things? In the purview of the simulation hypothesis there was an academic who argued recently in the New York Times that we shouldn’t try to find out if we’re in a simulation and he said the reason is, because if we do then the simulators will shut us down. That was the argument, and this was in the New York Times. So I wrote a response to that, which the New York Times didn’t publish but some other periodicals did publish. That is assuming the NPC version, so it assumes we are just bits on a computer. If you take the RPG version, perhaps that’s the purpose of the simulation, is for us to realize that it’s a simulated world and that the people who are stopping us are like obstacles because they don’t want the game to end.

So it’s kind of a reverse technological version of Pascal’s wager. Pascal’s wager was, “I don’t know if there’s a God or not but I’m going to pretend like there is, so that if there is, at least I’ll get in heaven and if there’s isn’t, I haven’t really lost anything down the road. This is saying, technologically we should act as if we’re not in the simulation because if we find out we are…

Now, I’m of the view we should do experiments to find out and there’s a physicist named Tom Campbell, I don’t know if you’ve come across him or he’s been on your show. He’s been talking about this idea of a virtual reality world for many years. So he raised some crowd funding to do some experiments down in South California and I visited those a couple of months ago, that are in progress. The idea is to try to show, through various versions of the delayed choice experiment, that what you actually need is not a measurement device, but what you actually need is a conscious observer at some point in that process. And to say that’s like a video game, getting back at the rendering analogy, that’s kind of where they’re trying to go, and those experiments are still ongoing.

But I’m of the belief that perhaps that is the whole point, is for us to recognize what the purpose of the game is and perhaps, what some people call conspiracies are agents, like Agent Smith, that have been sent to make it more difficult. Because some people say, “Well, if I was going to make a video game, I would make it really easy for me, I would become a trillionaire and everything would be great.” If you remember in The Matrix, in one of the sequels, I forget if it was the second or the third one, they revealed that the first version of The Matrix was just this great idyllic paradise, and the human mind didn’t accept it. So they had to introduce a whole bunch of strife and boredom and grinding and all this stuff, in order for the human mind to accept it as real.

So, I often like to use the analogy of an Indiana Jones film, what if he got the treasure map at the beginning of the film and he just said, ‘There you go. There’s where the Arc of the Covenant is, go and get it.” Well, it wouldn’t make for a very interesting film, right? And since I’m saying that reality is like a 3D film that’s being recorded so that you can play back pieces of these later on, so you can kind of review your performance, if you will, that you have to make it an interesting film along the way, and that may be where the difficulties come in, otherwise it would just be over.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:01:21] Hey, that’s really a great head-scratcher there, but a great point. I want to make use your time, you’ve been super generous, and I know you’re a busy guy, I want to hit on two things really quick to wrap this thing up.

I was going to jump right to the second one, but you’re so deeply spiritual in a way, I had to go back to the Eckhart Tolle thing that I was going to bring up, because I think he has a pretty cool way of bringing a lot of these spiritual, mystical concepts down to earth, and you also are into meditation.

To me, one of the things that becomes clear to anyone who’s ever meditated is the more is self-evident. I mean, as soon as you go into this state of awareness, of that voice, that monkey mind, you’re in this different world. You are outside of The Matrix instantly.

I was listening to Eckhart Tolle not too long ago and he made a great point about the whole matrix thing.  He goes, “Okay, maybe we live in a matrix,” he goes, “yeah, maybe that’s true. Certainly it does seem kind of dreamlike what we’re doing here.” He goes, “But if we are, then there you are, you’re the one who’s experiencing it again.”

So again, it circles back to the first thing we talked about here, of the Neo versus Agent Smith, but I don’t know how anyone can construct the Agent Smith argument, when it is self-evident that you are not what you observe, right? I mean, that’s like the first rule of metaphysics; I am not the computer because I can observe the computer and I’m not that.

So what do you think here about this idea that the more part of this, the greater consciousness? Isn’t is self-evident as soon as you sit down on the meditation cushion?

Riz Virk: [01:03:23] Well, I think you’re getting back to even Descartes, right? He said if everything was a dream or if he was being deceived by an evil demon, the only thing he knows for sure is that he’s there, “I think, therefore I am,” which is kind of like the fundamental idea that you’re talking about. You know, this dreamlike nature of reality is quite interesting to me and I spend a lot of time on dreams, because I talk about the technology that will develop to build something like The Matrix. Well, it turns out it already exists in a biological form, it’s called dreams. Every night we create these worlds and inside the worlds we’re there but there’s a bunch of other beings who could in fact be NPCs.

One thing I say is that the NPC and RPG versions are not mutually exclusive. I can play a video game where there are player characters and there are other people put there as obstacles or NPCs to help you along the way, or people that look like they’re there to help you but aren’t really there to help you.

Within the Tibetan Buddhist traditions they use dream yoga, which is a form of lucid dreaming. Once you learn to wake up within the dream and recognize what is real and what isn’t, you can do that in the physical world as well, around you. So who’s to say that there aren’t some NPCs around us?

I had a woman say to me the other day, “I think my husband is an NPC,” I said, “Go and tell him that,” you know, I quite like that.

I may have gotten off track a little bit, but I find that this analogy of the dreamlike nature of reality is really, really interesting and it ties very much to this idea that we may live in a simulated world. And I think when you meditate, you realize that there’s a part of you that isn’t your physical body, there’s a part of you that isn’t your emotions, and then eventually there’s a part of you that isn’t your thoughts, and what is that part? I think that is the essence of a lot of deep spiritual inquiry, is what is that part?

So that’s, when people ask me, “How do I hack the matrix?” I say, that’s how you do it. “Quiet the data stream that’s coming in and remember that there’s a part of you that just as in a dream, lying in bed, but this part of you is consciousness outside of the matrix, and that’s the way that you can do it.”

Alex Tsakiris: [01:05:48] Awesome, awesomeness. Okay, let’s wrap it up with a here and now kind of question, that a lot of people get pretty worked up about and I think for good reason.

The strong AI thing, like I said, I’ve been following AI for a long time and I was always a disbeliever, but there are some advancements in AI that would make anyone wonder. And as a Silicon Valley guy, as a very successful investor, entrepreneur, what are we to make of, I don’t know, you don’t have to agree with this because it’s really kind of controversial, but just the reality that I have up on the screen, the Simpsons quote “I, for one, welcome our new AI overloads.”

I mean, we have shadow banning, we have demonetization, we already have AI in place in the hands of people, who when they wheel that power, we’ve already begun to see the power that they can exercise in this world. And it goes beyond Google, of course, it’s in a million different places that we can’t see, but should we fear it, in maybe some very real ways that we’re already experiencing? And second part of that is, what about the concentration of this AI power? And again, like we’re saying, if you can, you would, if you can, you’d hold onto it, you wouldn’t share it.

Riz Virk: [01:07:15] I think many people wonder how sophisticated AI has gotten, and you remember AI back in the 90s and in the 2000s and it was not very powerful. What happened is, AI has gone through several waves, there was the expert systems and ruled-based wave, then neural nets came along for a while. When I was in college in the 90s we studied how to make neural nets and this recent wave has been more about data and machine learning and reinforcement learning. So a lot of the advances that have come recently have been because of the advance of computing power, the availability of data and the ability to crunch this and for machines to learn.

In the video game world, Claude Shannon, who created what I consider one of the first AIs, which was a chess playing computer back in 1950, he was at Bell Labs at MIT, is that gaming and AI are intimately related, but he said the stages of AI he first saw in the future was where AI can play a rule-based game, like chess, but then eventually it can learn the rules. That’s kind of where we are today.

A colleague of his, a contemporary, Alan Turing has the Turing test which is this idea that, if you’re talking to an AI, back then it was to a computer, not necessarily software, they were thinking of it as hardware, but if you were talking to a AI versus a person and you can’t tell the difference, then the Turing  test has been passed or what he called the imitation game back then.

We’re not quite there yet. I mean, in talking with an AI, you can usually tell if it’s still an AI. In my opinion there’s another wave of AI that may need to come, added on to the current technology, I don’t know what that is, before we get there, but a lot of people are worried about super intelligence and that AI will take over the world. I actually worry not that AI is so intelligent, but if we start to hook up weapons to AI, and the AI is actually not that intelligent, it’s more intelligent than it is now, but today’s AI is very limited, it’s only good at certain tasks, right? We don’t have artificial general intelligence yet, because you have to train it along certain things.

So if you’re training it just to shoot, it’s almost like, would you rather do a training match in karate with a brown belt or a 10th degree black belt? Well, it turns out the brown belt is more likely to hurt you than a 10th degree black belt who will make sure you don’t get hurt too much when you’re doing the sparring, because they not only have the power, they also have the refinement and the control and the wisdom.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:10:06] But that was their directive, right? I mean, it depends on what the directive was.

Riz Virk: [01:10:10] It depends upon what the directive is and what the values are, yeah. So I think eventually we will have to worry about AI and weaponized AI.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:10:18] This is the point though. Don’t we have to, maybe, if we look really hard, don’t we have to worry about it now, maybe a little bit more than we think we are, and isn’t it creeping into our lives in ways that we don’t immediately recognize? Like search right now, searches is not in the control of Google, per se, it’s in the control of a lot of the agents that they’ve built. And I’m not trying to be super controversial there, I think you would know much better than me, but that’s just a fact. I mean, that’s certainly a fact in trading. Trading, you know, stock trading, securities trading is not in the hands of traders. I mean, that is all automated at this point.

Riz Virk: [01:10:56] It’s in the hand of the algorithms and you’re right, search, demonetization, right? You’ll hear about people getting demonetized on YouTube because they got swept up, because they said certain words which were picked up by the algorithm.

But I would say that we’ve always had an element of media control. If you go back when I was a kid, there were only three networks, and pretty much they decided what was on the news and what wasn’t, and we have a corporate controlled media. So yes, we do have these kinds of things happening with AI and algorithms, but we also have more access to information than we’ve ever had before. So there are actually way more points of view now, than there used to be.

So, yeah, I’m a little worried about that. I’m not so worried about that. I think that’s always been the case, but I think actually there’s a lot more information flowing now than there ever was before, even with these algorithms and the AI and the search algorithms etc.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:12:01] Well, our guest again has been, I said the amazing Riz Virk and I’m going to say it again, the amazing Riz Virk, and the book we talked a lot about is The Simulation Hypothesis, but you can follow him in any number of ways. He’s out there, he produces so much great stuff. Riz, tell folks a little bit about some of the projects that you have going on right now that they may want to keep an eye on.

Riz Virk: [01:12:26] Sure. Well, you know, this book is out there. I’m going to be working on a second edition of this book, which will probably come out next year when The Matrix 4 comes out in May of 2021. People can visit my Twitter feed at, @Rizstanford or my website at zenentrepreneur.com.

I also have a book coming out about Startup Myths and Models: What You Won’t Learn in Business School. That’s kind of the other area where I spent a lot of my time is with startups and in the technology world.

And then I always have articles coming out. I even started a podcast recently called Assimilated Universe: The Ages of Science and Science Fiction.

Alex Tsakiris: [01:13:04] Awesome. We didn’t talk a lot about science fiction, but if anyone is into science fiction, there are all these threads that are interwoven into this book and his work in general that people want to check out. Absolutely fantastic having you on, thank you so much for joining me.

Riz Virk: [01:13:19] Thank you so much for having me on. I really enjoyed our conversation.

Thanks again to Riz Virk for joining me today on Skeptiko. One question I’d have to tee up from this interview. How far has, if it can, it will, AI advanced. It’s something that we just kind of touched on in this show, but I think it really sparked some interesting conversation or the beginnings of a conversation, and I’d like to invite you to join in and maybe finish that conversation.

What a great guest. So thankful for him coming on. And I think his work could turn out to be really important in all of these questions that we’re exploring on Skeptiko.

So do join me over at the Skeptiko Forum to discuss anything you want to discuss or about the show, or you can of course reach me on Facebook or wherever you reach me.

Be sure to check out all the other shows on Skeptiko. You can find them through the Skeptiko website. You can download all the shows for free. There are no advertisements, there’s no firewall, there’s no anything. I just hope you like them, hope you use them, hope they’re meaningful to you, and I hope you share them with other people who you think need to hear some of the information we talk about on this show.

I have some good stuff coming up, please stay with me for all of that. Until next time, take care and bye for now.

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