Is Civilization A Simulation? Elon Musk Says It's More Likely Than Not

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Is Civilization A Simulation? Elon Musk Says It's More Likely Than Not

How do you know your whole life isn't just a computer simulation? This question is the basis of a popular thought experiment, but some people firmly believe it's the truth. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is one of those believers. Musk has said he's convinced that we are most likely characters in some super-advanced civilization's computer game. "There's a one in billions chance we're in base reality," he said at Code Conference 2016, a media and tech conference where he was a featured speaker. Musk cites the rate that technology is advancing as the reasoning behind his belief. Merely decades ago, our video gaming was limited to simple ones like Pong. Today, virtual reality is blurring the lines between what is real and what is simulated, and Musk believes the line will continue to blur so severely that simulations will develop consciences of their own.

Can Strategy Games Make You Smarter?

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Can Strategy Games Make You Smarter?

Researchers from Queen Mary University in London have found that playing strategy games, such as StarCraft, may boost cognitive performance in several areas. The study gathered 72 participants to play 40 hours of video games over a six- to eight-week period. Half the participants played StarCraft and half played The Sims. Results showed that the StarCraft players' performance in psychological tests as well as their speed and accuracy in cognitive flexibility tests improved.

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from GameSpot

Key Facts to Know

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    A study showed that playing Starcraft improved participants' ability to quickly adapt, switch tasks, and think about multiple ideas at once. 0:41

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    Compared to a non-gaming control group, Super Mario 64 players showed an increase in grey cells. 4:34

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    Playing 12 hours of an action video game did more for the reading skills of dyslexic children than a whole year of traditional reading treatments. 5:21

B.F. Skinner's Skinner Box and Video Games

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B.F. Skinner's Skinner Box and Video Games

American psychologist B.F. Skinner, born in 1904, developed the Skinner box to study behavior in a controlled environment.

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Key Facts to Know

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    B.F. Skinner was the first to theorize that we could change the way people made choices, instead of only being able to condition reactions. 0:11

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    Skinner demonstrated that rewards that are needs (food, water, etc.) have diminishing effects once the point of satiation is reached. 1:59

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    Many video games apply Skinner's concepts of giving rewards as a way to convince players they are enjoying the game. 2:48

The Classic Video Game Tetris

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The Classic Video Game Tetris

Tetris debuted in 1984 after its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, sold the rights to the Soviet government in order to get it published. For roughly a decade, Pajitnov didn't make any money off his game—the best selling video game of all time.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Tetris was programmed in two weeks, without any colors or graphics. 0:52

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    Hungary was the first country to begin distributing the game. 1:19

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    The game's inventor later worked for Microsoft as the company's first game designer. 1:37