The world’s handful of super-rich tech entrepreneurs seem to have it all, with enough cash to develop reusable rockets, shape the entire online world, and run social media empires.
But it seems a number of these technology billionaires can’t seem to shake the feeling that none of it is quite real.
While some may believe we may be living inside a Matrix-style computer simulation, a small number of these tech giants may be secretly funding research to help break us out.
The latest insight into the paranoia of the Silicon Valley elite comes from an interview with head of famed Californian start-up Y Combinator, Sam Altman.
Speaking to The New Yorker, the entrepreneur is candid about the challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, saying: ‘We enslave the AI or it enslaves us.’
He continues: ‘the full-on-crazy version of the merge is we get our brains uploaded into the cloud…We need to level up humans, because our descendants will either conquer the galaxy or extinguish consciousness in the universe forever.’
In the article, veteran staff writer Ted Friend explains how the idea has taken hold, with some looking to shatter the illusion.
‘Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer,’ wrote Mr Friend.
‘Two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation,’ he adds.
The New Yorker journalist does not, however, reveal the billionaires by name, or confirm if Mr Altman is one of them. Along with SpaceX and Tesla chief, Elon Musk, Mr Altman formed non-profit firm Open AI with the aim of developing 'off-the-shelf' AI.
Musk is one of those who persuaded by the idea of a simulation - like the Hollywood hit The Matrix - saying earlier this year that games technology has advanced to a point where it will become indistinguishable from reality.
In the first film in the Matrix trilogy, Neo holds a spoon in his hand and realises that it is not real, along with everything around him.
Recently, a report from the Bank of America claimed there is around a 50 per cent chance that civilisation is living in a simulation.
The bank's wealth management company, Merrill Lynch, sent out a briefing note to investors outlining their Matrix theory, according to Business Insider.
The note said: 'Many scientists, philosophers, and business leaders believe that there is a 20-50 per cent probability that humans are already living in a computer-simulated virtual world.'
It explained that earlier this year, researchers gathered at the American Museum of Natural History to debate this notion.
The note continues: 'The argument is that we are already approaching photorealistic 3D simulations that millions of people can simultaneously participate in.
'It is conceivable that with advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and computing power, members of future civilisations could have decided to run a simulation of their ancestors.
'Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.'
While the researchers have predicted this could be a daunting reality, unfortunately they neglected to mention whether there was a way out of it, if true.
It is also unclear what the investment implications are for the Bank of America.