Re: Matrix Shmatrix

The Baileys (
Fri, 09 Apr 1999 21:48:50 -0400

Let me preface my remarks by saying that the Matrix has been the conversational portal that has allowed me to broach many of the concepts of transhumanism to people that I would not otherwise have the chance to discuss these concepts with.

Robin Hanson wrote:

>On the positive side I guess you might say they take the ideas
>of virtual reality and artificial intelligence seriously.
>(Then again you might not.) And it had a lot of action &
>violence (no sex) for folks who like that sort of thing.
>On the negative side, humans cloud the skys to take solar energy
>away from AIs, who then grow humans as energy sources, putting
>them in a virtual reality to distract them from being eaten?!
>Special humans born with an ability to hack the AI's operating
>system better than the AIs?! AIs who have to run and chase
>things in their virtual reality rather than just deleting the
>relevant files?! AIs too stupid to out guess spunky humans
>or to find the hidden human "city" on an Earth run by AIs?
>A fight for human freedom lead by an all-knowing "oracle" who
>gives orders and explains little? Pleeaase.

I agree the film had major conceptual problems. Note, in my initial post on the movie I stated it was an excellent movie as far as Hollywood is concerned. The key to this movie is that is makes people think. It expands horizons. It enhances the elasticity of people's idea of existence and enlarges the realm of whats possible. I'd love it if we could get everyone to read Greg Egan or Vernor Vinge or Greg Bear or other good sci-fi authors. But that is not going to happen.

With that said, there are certainly other major problems in addition to the ones you've mentioned:

If you take the amount of energy produced by the billions of human "batteries" and subtract the energy cost of the storage facilities, birthing fields, and the Matrix itself, I don't see how there would be much residual power left to fund the power needs of the machine intelligences.

Consider the raw computing power required to simulate the entire biosphere in complete detail down to at least the atomic level. Billions of human minds. The position, momentum, etc. of every particle. What happens when an astrophysicists study the universe, guess now the Matrix has to account for the rest of the universe too (or at least that part that is being observed). Which leads me to the most significant blunder of all...

If the machines could construct the Matrix, they could come up with lots of great alternatives to the "human battery" concept. The Matrix would require nanotechnology, herculean computing power, etc.

Yes, the Matrix was conceptually flawed on several levels. But it makes people think, and that has a lot of value by itself.

Doug Bailey