Earlier this morning, Matt Damon gave the 2016 commencement speech at MIT. Damon never went there; only his character Will Hunting did. This is his second fake graduation from a prestigious Boston school — he went to Harvard and attended commencement but never got a degree. “So yes,” he said, “for the second time in my life, I’m fake graduating from a college in my hometown.”
There are a lot of gems in Damon’s commencement speech, and you can either watch it below or get the highlights from Boston.com, but there’s a particular bit of life advice that he gave that really took my attention. He was talking about the hypothesis that reality is in fact a simulation, and after making a joke about it (“And if there are multiple simulations, how come we have to live in the one where Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee for president? Can we, like, transfer to a different one?”), he delivered this gem:
Professor [Max] Tegmark has an excellent take on all this. “My advice,” he said recently, “is to go out and do really interesting things, so the simulators don’t shut you down.”
Now then again, what if it isn’t a simulation? Either way, my answer is the same. Either way, what we do matters. What we do affects the outcome. So either way, MIT, you’ve gotta go out and do really interesting things. Important things. Inventive things. Because this world — real or imagined — this world has some problems that we need you to drop everything and solve.
Damon may only be a pretend genius, but that bit of advice was clever and inspired.