A philosopher explores the nature of reality using “The Matrix” and other science fiction as thought experiments

The universe of “The Matrix” is an illusion constructed by malevolent godlike AIs. Nothing in the Matrix is real. But we might also think of objects in a simulation as real, but digital rather than physical.

On Ars Technica, Jennifer Ouellette interviews NYU philosopher David Chalmers, author of the new book, “Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.”

Exploring mind-bending questions about reality and virtual worlds via The Matrix

Chalmers:

I partly got into this about 15 years ago through watching my five-year-old nephew play with SimCity. He built up the city and the environment and all the people. Then he said, “Now, here’s the fun part,” and he just set fire to it all, sent in earthquakes and tidal waves. I thought, “OK, now I understand the Old Testament God.”

Even if we’re living in a simulation, if I stub my toe, the pain is real.