‘The Matrix’ is here
I am a major league fan of the movie, “The Matrix.” For those of you who might not be, it’s a movie about how a future artificial intelligence manages to create an artificial reality in which humans live, well, artificially, all the while thinking it is real.
The main character is famously offered two pills: the blue pill will allow him to continue living in the artificial reality of the matrix, but the red pill will show him what actual reality really looks like.
So the other day, I was shuffling through the channels of our favorite matrix, namely television, looking for some sporting event that wasn’t covered in cobwebs, and I came upon an open-wheeled car race that looked absolutely up to the moment, was being announced as though it were taking place today, featured cars that looked state of the art and had all the camera angles one expects of a modern racing presentation.
I was left wondering how auto racing could be an “essential service” and how they could be running this race with the stands seemingly full and not a surgical mask to be seen anywhere.
The answer is, of course, they weren’t. The whole thing was computer generated and the driving was being done by real drivers — but driving a steering wheel attached to a computer.
The complexity of this computer simulation left me scratching my head. Some of the views were computer generated images, but others were seemingly sampled from real races. The only way to tell the drivers were not in the cockpit was that there was a picture-in-picture insert showing the real driver in his basement driving his car on the computerized race course.
Care to comment? If this doesn’t make you pause for a second and wonder what genie we have let out of the bottle, you need to watch my favorite movie soonest, for Agent Smith, my best love-to-hate Matrix bad guy, may have found a new career in network programming.
But it really does make me wonder. The computer boffins like to talk about something they call “the singularity,” the time when computers and people merge to become some sort of super race of superior beings. For old guys like me, that prospect doesn’t sound all that enticing. Science fiction does have the unsettling habit of becoming science fact, but that is one fact I think I’ll leave to the next generation.
They seem much more content to live in a world bounded by a digital reality; see your local teenager and ask about the reality of social media, and I think you will understand what I mean.
From the bleacher viewpoint, no matter how amped up computers may get, I don’t think they will have any better luck hitting a nasty slider than do the majority of us relatively unadorned humans.
Let’s hope the real thing won’t be long in coming.
Millerton resident Theodore Kneeland is a retired teacher and coach — and athlete.