The concept of “simulation theory” is not new. This has existed since René Descartes proposed a version of it in a philosophical argument, and perhaps even before.
He argues that everything around us – from the planet we walk on to the societies we live in to the people we meet – is part of a larger simulation, much like we saw in the 1999 movie The matrix. As in the movie, the modern version of this theory is that we are all part of a computer simulation, externally controlled by one or more unknown entities. In the film, a “glitch” in the matrix occurs when experiencing déjà vu, indicating that the system is not working properly.
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This concept is explored in the documentary A glitch in the matrix, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film superficially examines the possibility of this theory without delving too deeply into the scientific “evidence” or “evidence”. Of course, that’s not something that can be proven in our time, although Elon Musk says it’s a distinct possibility. On the other hand, this also cannot be refuted.
The film begins with a general explanation of the concept, using testimony from experts like Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, as well as tales of talking heads of “eyewitnesses” of people in the form of CG avatars. These people, who have various connections with the theory, point out coincidences and certain events in their life which can in part be explained by the simulation hypothesis. Again, there is no hard evidence, but there is some excitement in imagining the possibility.
The film also uses extensive archival footage from visionary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, author of books such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and A dark scanner. Popular novels have a cult following, with Dick’s ideas adopted by proponents of simulation. Dick recounts how his ideas came to him in his dreams or while under the influence of drugs, which doesn’t exactly count as rock-solid proof.
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What sort of “evidence” do these eyewitnesses have?
The everyday occurrences of deja vu, or those times when, say, you keep seeing orange cats all over the place, are the kind of evidence used in the film. It is impossible to provide definitive certainty regarding simulation theory, but it is fascinating to attribute the strange events of life to it.
It sounds sketchy. Does the film derail?
The movie doesn’t do itself any favors once it hits the halfway point. Perhaps hampered by his own lack of merit, the doc takes a hard right and devotes inordinate amounts of time to the case of teenage Joshua Cooke, who murdered his parents in 2003 after becoming obsessed with The matrix and the idea of living in a simulation.
We hear a lengthy and pointless account of the night they were killed directly by an imprisoned Cooke, who painstakingly describes his actions and tries to justify them by saying (not in those exact words, mind you) that the movie forced him to do it. Here, the documentary turns sad, if not ugly, as we hear a clearly mentally ill man going over the intricate details of the murder.
So what is the result?
What starts off as a fun, mind-blowing documentary turns into a harsh story of what can happen under certain circumstances to those with uncontrolled mental illness. Simulation theory falls apart halfway A glitch in the matrix, replaced by the horrors of murder, which is only tangentially linked to the hypothesis.
It’s a shame too, because it’s a fun subject to explore and get lost in. For now, a déjà vu will have to be just that.
‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ is available to watch on VOD services across Canada. Please consult your service provider for details.
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