The Simulation Argument

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Figured this paper by Bostrom might be of interest as it kicked off some academic thinking on the topic:

Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? (A companion website can be found here.)



Quote:This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

See also this more recent piece by Corey Powell on some attempts to test the hypothesis:


Quote:Any such bugs in our Matrix world would have to be extremely subtle, or else we would have noticed them by now. Silas Beane, a nuclear physicist at the University of Washington in Seattle, proposes that we may be able to ferret out previously overlooked flaws by uncovering the mathematical structure used to build our simulated reality.

He points out that scientists in his field use a lattice-like set of coordinates to simulate the behavior of subatomic particles. Maybe the aliens (or whoever built our simulation, if it exists) used that approach, too. If our reality is built on top of a lattice, there’d be a fundamental coarseness to it, since there could be no details in our mock-universe smaller than the resolution of the simulation.

Even if the resolution limit is too small for us to observe directly, Beane says, we may be able to detect it experimentally. In a paper he wrote with two colleagues, Beane proposes that a simulation lattice could affect the behavior of ultra-energetic particles known as cosmic rays, affecting their orientation and maximum intensity.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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Some further speculations and reasonings. The notion that we are living in a virtual reality created by an inconceivably powerful computer or computers in a higher reality is attractive in many ways, especially in that it seems to offer a way of rationalizing quantum mechanics. However, it seems to me there are fundamental problems in doing what most of the materialist proponents like Bostrum do in extending the hypothesis to include humans themselves. These problems would start with that old friend, the Hard Problem. Machines and the algorithms they implement are nothing but, no matter how complicated and powerful - they can generate no essential meaning, purpose, intentionality, and especially the qualia of conscious experience. 

So it looks like we must be users of (or maybe the prisoners of) the simulation rather than merely being generated by the simulation. If that is the case, the question naturally comes up, what are we really, do our essential beings exist in the same higher reality as the simulation? And in  the context of the long esoteric traditions and teachings of belief systems like spiritualism, that we really exist as souls in a higher (or many higher) spiritual realities, are these spiritual belief systems just pre-scientific translations or interpretations of the essential reality of an underlying virtual reality simulation?

How to interpret the phenomena of parapsychology and spiritualism in this context? These phenomena amount to extensive empirical evidence for the nonlocal existence of the human spirit, manifesting through but not being generated by the physical brain.  It seems to me rationalizing this in the context of the virtual reality simulation hypothesis would have to boil down to two different alternatives. Either (1) proposing that humans can in exceptional circumstances partially emerge from the simulation to glimpse or partially experience their true existence as users or forced prisoners, or (2) all the phenomena of parapsychology and spiritualism are themselves part of the simulation of our world, generated to delude us for reasons only known to the creator(s) of the simulation. Option (2) would seem to be the way of madness, since it would open the door to imagining that absolutely any and all experiences may merely be part of the simulation.

And finally, there is the reductio ad absurdum of the inescapable infinite regress of higher realities - if our realm is a simulation, then the higher reality of the simulation computer(s) may itself be a simulation, and so on ad infinitum. Is this an argument against the simulation hypothesis?
(This post was last modified: 2018-12-11, 04:50 PM by nbtruthman.)
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(2018-12-11, 04:30 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: And finally, there is the reductio ad absurdum of the inescapable infinite regress of higher realities - if our realm is a simulation, then the higher reality of the simulation computer(s) may itself be a simulation, and so on ad infinitum. Is this an argument against the simulation hypothesis?

No different than many worlds/multiverse really. six of one half dozen the other, lol.  Or maybe there is a supreme being on whose desk it sits at has a plaque on it saying, 'the buck stops here'.  Big Grin
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(2018-12-13, 02:56 AM)iPsoFacTo Wrote: No different than many worlds/multiverse really. six of one half dozen the other, lol.  Or maybe there is a supreme being on whose desk it sits at has a plaque on it saying, 'the buck stops here'.  Big Grin


Everything I'm going to write is incredibly crazy and I don't expect it to be taken seriously and I probably shouldn't be writing it in the first place but I am.

In my alleged past life memory stuff the concept of a multiverse was how people understood things... Although not necessarily as discreet universes but rather an infinite pool made out of something fundamentally common to all of them. The concept of individual universes and planes and whatnot had to be derived from categorizing similarities and differences in different areas. But fundamentally everything was considered connected, just that some things were more strongly or directly connected than others. This measurable interconnectedness led to interesting observations like occasionally finding loops where things in a certain time space were basically causing themselves, or at least heavily influencing it. It was theorized that literally everything has some, non zero, influence on literally everything else and that nothing can have 100% influence on anything else. Creating this handy dandy thing called the Obsfuuken scale (Not sure about spelling but I know it's missing an umlaut) which measured the amount of influence one thing/event/whatever in one timespace had on another thing in some other timespace the way the Richter Scale measures earthquakes.

I only bring all that up because it seemed that there was no regression problem because the looping made everything infinite anyways, no idea if this is how anything actually works but, well, maybe?
"The cure for bad information is more information."
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