What keeps George Hotz, the enigmatic hacker and founder of the Comma.ai self-management company, at night is not whether his autonomous automotive company will succeed or what other business venture he might undertake next. No, on the other hand, Hotz says he is tortured by the possibility that all of us are in an advanced simulation observed by an omnipotent extraterrestrial or supernatural being, or an artificial intelligence that is well beyond the scope of human conception and understanding. .
"There is no proof that this is not true," an animated Hotz told an audience in his SXSW talk on Friday, aptly titled "Jailbrealing the Simulation" and posted on the festival's website as an exploration of whether he is escaping from a simulated universe. it means that we can "meet God" and kill him. "It's easy to imagine things that are much smarter than you and could build a cage that you would not even recognize."
The theory, widely known as the simulation hypothesis, holds that life on Earth and, by extension, the solar system and even the universe itself, is potentially a computer simulation, be it a video game or some other form of entertainment for advanced life forms or possibly some kind of AI simulation guided by ancestral Life created by a future version of humanity. It is a popular proposal that, in recent years, has been publicly entertained by great names in technology, such as Elon Musk, and has been considered and unpacked more seriously by prominent philosophers such as Nick Bostrom.
It seems that Hotz is one of the believers, or so the crowd would think in SXSW. The 29-year-old entrepreneur, who grew to fame when he was a teenager when he became the first computer hacker to unlock the first-generation iPhone, has always been an out-of-the-ordinary thinker. Above, anodyne world of silicon valley.
He dropped into the hot water when he released the Sony PlayStation 3, which led to a contentious lawsuit that was then resolved. But the event put Hotz on the path of an outsider in the technology industry ever since, which led to short lifetimes on Facebook, Google and Vicarious, a San Francisco-based company. In 2015, he founded the new autonomous company Comma.ai, whose objective is to democratize access to self-driving software and is based on Hotz's belief that the current direction of the autonomous industry is a giant scam.
But in SXSW, it seems that Hotz is committed to setting aside and pushing the boundaries of the acceptable marketing conference theme. His talks here, including one from three years ago in which he promised to end capitalism, present a version of himself that seems deranged, that is unconcerned and raises the crowd in a frenzy.
And the audiences, seemingly affine types who have followed Hotz's pinballing career, usually love it. Yesterday, Hotz spoke to a room of about 100 people, while wearing a hooded sweatshirt, a bushy beard and a disheveled mop of curly hair. Throughout the talk, he compared programming with magic, considered how he would like to die one day and said that one of the most disturbing aspects of life in the future will be when we all realize that we probably do not have free will.
At one point, Hotz said that he was even entertained by founding a religion dedicated to breaking with the simulated universe. "I'm thinking of starting a church, there are a lot of structural problems with the companies: there is no real way to win," Hotz said, referring to the end result of any capitalist enterprise being to maximize profits, sell the business or burn, all what Hotz considers failures. .
"With businesses, you only get lost." I think the churches could be much more aligned with these goals, and the church's goal would be to realign the efforts of society to leave [of the simulation] ". It sounds a lot like what Anthony Levandowski, the infamous former Uber and Google engineer who spawned a multi-million dollar lawsuit between the two companies is doing with Way of the Future, an organization dedicated to "creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is charge of the planet "once machines exceed human intelligence.
"I do not know how close you think of the singularity, but I think it's very close." Once we reach the singularity, if we have the same motivations that we have now, mainly power over people, things go to To be horrible, "Hotz added." Gather the right people, and start saying, "What does it mean to get out? & # 39; There are no charlatans, there is no garbage. Everything you say will be rationally justifiable. "
It's hard to seriously know how to take Hotz at times, I think it's someone who often says something to get a reaction or to verbalize his inner monologue as a way to make sense of it. He said it so much on stage. "Do I really believe it? Some days yes, "he said. "Sometimes I do not know how I feel about something until I say it out loud."
The crowd did not care much in any way. During the question and answer session, a member of the audience asked Hotz if he would consider partnering with transhumanists, people who believe in the eventual evolution of humanity through the fusion of body and mind with robotics and artificial intelligence, to found your church. Hotz was quite ambivalent to the idea; maybe he did not think that people would take it at his word. But if he does start a church, the sermon he gave at SXSW yesterday was delivered to a room of possible believers.