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are you living in a simulation?

Nick Bostrom thinks the odds are pretty high:

http://www.simulation-argument.com/matrix.html
http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html
http://www.transhumanist.com/volume7/simulation.html

I have always regarded this guy as a little on the nutty side; but I admire what he's trying to do: apply mathematical and scientific principles such as combinatorics and the anthropic principle to philosophy, for the purpose of getting some interesting and possibly counter-intuitive predictions about reality. Both this and his famous "doomsday argument" have the same flavor in my mouth--I don't know any reason why his arguments are wrong, but something about them just doesn't feel right.

The third link above is one of the most interesting to read, although it's not written by him. I have some issues with how this person separates "real" from "simulated" people on moral grounds. I may follow this up with my thoughts on that.

While I'm posting links, the newest rube goldberg machine designed for a honda commercial is pretty cool: http://www.muppetclan.com/honda.html (took them 606 takes to film it, after which it went all the way through without messing up!)

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jun. 4th, 2003 07:07 pm (UTC)
Dude, sorry you're bored. I've been so busy I haven't had time to do much of anything, socially. Will check out the Honda ad ASAP when I'm logged into Windows. I'm too lazy to install Flash 6 to run with Konqueror.

-mab.
spoonless
Jun. 6th, 2003 04:40 pm (UTC)
I will get around to giving you a code soon so you can join the fun here.

I didn't realize it used flash6, I guess both of my browsers (Galeon and Mozilla) already have that, although I don't remember downloading it. Might have come with redhat8.0.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 4th, 2003 07:08 pm (UTC)
PS -
BTW, I thought you and your LJ friends might find this interesting:
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/002/730avutr.asp
gustavolacerda
Jun. 5th, 2003 11:53 am (UTC)
If you search for "Robin Hanson" "doomsday argument", I think you'll find a refutation of the doomsday argument.
spoonless
Jun. 6th, 2003 04:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, that was a good essay. Robin Hanson happens to be the same guy who wrote the third link I have above ("How to Live in a Simulation"). I guess he follows Bostrom's work closely and comments on it.

I like Hanson's assertion that the problem is in picking the prior distribution. And his choice of the more "physicsy" way of picking it. However, I'm not entirely sure he's successfully addressed everything. I think there's still a lot more to be said; I think it's still a problem which we don't fully understand how to deal with statistically. Then again, I still need to read his whole essay more carefully... I skimmed over large parts of it.
afx
Jul. 2nd, 2003 10:53 am (UTC)
Given the assumption that it may be possible for our existence to host another existence/world/universe (real world/matrix world), one is faced with a problem in proving that we might be in one of these matrix worlds:

In order to infer any likelihood about an outer host existence from our own we need to disregard the possiblity that our world is governed by arbitrary principals, or ones that wouldn't hold in every other possible existence- each existence must have the same "rules". So therefore, to infer that we might in fact be living in a world inside another world, we have to assume that the host world is subject to all the principles of logic of our own. Clearly, that would rely on direct knowledge of the subject, which presupposes the point we're trying to prove- circular logic.
spoonless
Jul. 2nd, 2003 12:22 pm (UTC)

In order to infer any likelihood about an outer host existence from our own we need to disregard the possiblity that our world is governed by arbitrary principals, or ones that wouldn't hold in every other possible existence- each existence must have the same "rules". So therefore, to infer that we might in fact be living in a world inside another world, we have to assume that the host world is subject to all the principles of logic of our own. Clearly, that would rely on direct knowledge of the subject, which presupposes the point we're trying to prove- circular logic.


I think that it's fairly natural to assume that if a civilization decides to run a simulation, then they would model it after their own. At the very least, they would let the same rules of logic apply.

True, it's theoretically possible they would decide to change them for experimentation reasons, but it's a lot more likely that they would keep them the same. And part of the argument is based on looking at our civilization... and seeing where we're headed, and seeing that it's reasonable that we would simulate at some point. Bostrom is basically saying: unless we believe that we'll never get there, or never want to run any simulations... it's likely that the overall number of simulations that get run (just based on our world) drastically outnumbers the number of "real" worlds (just one).

I have several problems with his argument, but I don't really have a problem with his logic-rules assumptions.
afx
Jul. 2nd, 2003 12:57 pm (UTC)
I see what you mean about it making sense that if we were to do it we'd do it that way, however, to assume that about the possible outer world would be assuming it exists, that's the logical problem.

Besides that, I think the real problem with the argument is that there is no fundamental substance of reality to speak of, just relationships creating weird phenomena playing out in weird ways that gave arise to our subjective consciousness. To assert any sort of objective reality is silly.
spoonless
Jul. 2nd, 2003 01:12 pm (UTC)

Besides that, I think the real problem with the argument is that there is no fundamental substance of reality to speak of, just relationships creating weird phenomena playing out in weird ways that gave arise to our subjective consciousness. To assert any sort of objective reality is silly.


Aha... now there you've nailed it! I was going to write something similar, but decided it wasn't worth explaining. That's basically my main problem with his argument. I don't see a difference between a simulated world and a real world, or a need to care. What is real is what we experience, and there is no reason to ask what's outside of that or if that has any meaning. I especially don't like the other author's contention that people should be treated morally different if they are simulated. It's the exact same situation, there is no difference. We might as well assume all realities are simulated. Anyway, I agree.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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