• Benj96
    671
    How likely do you think this is? What are the major arguments for and against the idea of a simulation? Would you mind personally if it were? And do you think a simulation must be determined (programmed) or could it allow for free will (a sort of self coding open-simulation) ?
  • Joshs
    3.9k
    What are the major arguments for and against the idea of a simulation?Benj96

    If we carefully thought through what we mean by simulation, I think we would conclude it wasn’t such a remarkable situation. We have to start by considering all the ways we are exposed to the cultural, artistic and technological creations of others. Sitting in a movie theater or participating in an immersive video game , we are exposed to forms of simulation. But what we are being exposed to isnt simply the ‘furniture of the world’, visual , auditory and tactile things that follow rote laws, but events that we actively participate in and influence. The most meaningful aspects of our word are the way we responsively change and are changed by communicating with other people. A simulation running canned algorithms would soon become irrelevant to us.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    What difference would it make to our existence whether or not "we live in a simulation"?
  • Yohan
    671
    ↪Benj96 What difference would it make to our existence whether or not "we live in a simulation"?180 Proof
    Cypher : You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize?

    [Takes a bite of steak]

    Cypher : Ignorance is bliss
    The Matrix
    :fire:
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    The point being ...?
  • noAxioms
    1.1k
    Could would be living in a simulation?Benj96
    Depends on your definition of 'living in a simulation'.
    One view is that we are simulated. Somewhere there is an entity that drives the mechanics of a certain set of physical laws, the ones that we know. Life forms, even sentient ones, form or come as part of an initial state, however implausible. The creatures are thus simulated. I think this is the scenario that 180 means when he points out that it cannot make any difference one way or another.
    The power of the simulating entity matter not. It can run one instruction per minute, or stop entirely for months at a time. The simulated thing cannot notice. The precision of said entity on the other hand is already beyond our physics. 64 bit floating point numbers just don't work.

    The other view is a real (not-simulated) mind, being fed by said external entity a simulated input stream. This is a virtual reality, or BiV scenario. The presumption leaves absolutely zero evidence of there being other minds, or any evidence of anything for that matter. But it can be tested in a way. One's 'body' is part of the simulation, and is sort of an avatar being controlled by the mind in question. It isn't too difficult to examine the avatar and note that the thing isn't calling its own shots, but rather is remote-controlled by something other than the physics being presented.
    Here the power of the simulating entity matters since the mind would notice if the world simulation suddenly couldn't keep up. It has to be done on the fly in real time since the universe is contained by time instead of the other way around.

    How likely do you think this is?
    Flat out zero in my opinion. The arguments involved (usually based on probability) don't hold water.

    What are the major arguments for and against the idea of a simulation?
    A simulation of our physics cannot be done with our physics, so the next level up has to be something far more complex, lacking in annoying rules like a limit of information travel speed, limit of three dimensions, etc. So on a pure probability scale, it's kind of like proposing a god: Something far more complex to explain something simple, but still too complex for you to explain. It makes the problem worse.

    As for the VR, one might as where the subject mind comes from and why it doesn't remember being hooked up to the VR. Every video gamer still knows deep down that he's sitting at home wired to the computer and is not really in Mordor or wherever.
    The VR guy is also prevented from doing certain things like examining the function of his own body, since any such examination will quickly reveal the secret.

    And do you think a simulation must be determined (programmed)
    Programmed doesn't mean determined. One can program randomness. The simulation would implement one of several interpretations of QM, some of which involve deterministic physics (Bohmian, MWI for instance) and some of which involve randomness (Copenhagen, RQM, or anything with physical wave function collapse). Free will as defined by the dualists (am not part of physics) is out the window for a simulation, which is a monistic proposal. Randomness or lack of it has nothing to do with it.
    VR on the other hand has that kind of external-control free will. Physical law is overridden in places, making for an easy empirical test for it.
  • Yohan
    671
    ↪Yohan The point being ...?180 Proof
    For someone like Cypher, knowing we "live in a simulation" makes no (positive) difference.
    If it looks like a duck, and quakes like a duck....if the Shoe Fits...

    For someone like Neo, with a splinter in his mind and a boring corporate life...what has he got to lose from following the white rabbit and popping the red pill? Maybe the slop they serve in Zion is better when you aren't able to enjoy the simple pleasures of the simulation. At least there he gets to play the messianic leader of group of freedom fighters.

    Is there a Neo and Cypher in all of us?

    :smirk:
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    I agree with what difference does it make.

    A movie metaphor is one thing, but are we really going to spend our lives trying to break away from a simulation that 1) hasn't been demonstrated to be the case and 2) if true, may well be inescapable. Do we want to dedicate our lives to such a sci-fi conspiracy theory? It's no different really to dedicating one's life to a religious pathway, in the hope of reaching paradise.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Quoted on an old thread "Reality As An Illusion"
    I have known many gods. He who denies them is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death. It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom's realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the Nordheimer's Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.
    ~Conan the Cimmerian, "Queen of the Black Coast" (1934)
    180 Proof
    :death: :flower:
  • Yohan
    671

    Are we gonna spend our lives trying to get satisfaction and meaning out something that might not even be real?

    Are we content to build our houses on sand?
  • SpaceDweller
    441
    What are the major arguments for and against the idea of a simulation?Benj96
    It would take enormous amount of computing power to simulate such a vast universe to such a great detail.
    and even if that's possible, computer simulation doesn't handle biology.
  • Astro Cat
    7
    The main argument for living in a simulation is that simulated worlds would also simulate worlds such that a vast majority of worlds that exist would be simulated. I do not think it's possible to simulate a universe that's remotely the same size (and filled with the same amount of stuff) as a "parent" universe, so this complicates any kind of calculation that might be attempted: too many of the prior probabilities are simply inscrutable.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Are we gonna spend our lives trying to get satisfaction and meaning out something that might not even be real?Yohan

    You need to provide a compelling reason why you would take this seriously first. 'Perhaps' isn't enough. The world is full of 'perhaps' none or many of which we don't engage with. Have you ruled out Scientology or Catholicism? The simulation model to me seems just an updated tech-inspired form of idealism of which there are many models and possibilities.
  • Yohan
    671
    You need to provide a compelling reason why you would take this seriously first. 'Perhaps' isn't enough. The world is full of 'perhaps' non of which we follow up. Have you ruled out Scientology or Catholicism? The simulation model to me seems just an updated tech-inspired form of idealism of which there are many models and possibilities.Tom Storm
    Its simple. I have yet to find any solid foundation on which life as we know it is grounded upon, therefor I remain open to the possibility that no such foundation exists.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Its simple. I have yet to find any solid foundation on which life as we know it is grounded upon, therefor I remain open to the possibility that no such foundation exists.Yohan

    Sure. Me too. But I'm not investing energy plunging down those capacious rabbit holes of possibility.
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    It’s impossible to live in a simulation because the act of entering a simulation occurs after, and never before, a state of affairs in which we already live.
  • Yohan
    671
    Sure. Me too. But I'm not investing energy plunging down those capacious rabbit holes.Tom Storm
    The question is an aspect of the more general question: What is reality? Or, how do we know what's real?

    Why wouldn't you want to use simulation theory as a tool to refine your understanding of reality and epistemology?

    This is a meaty philosophy topic. One of greats.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Why wouldn't you want to use simulation theory as a tool to refine your understanding of reality and epistemology?Yohan

    Because, as I said, there is no way of knowing if simulation theory is useful for understanding anything. How do you propose demonstrating that simulation theory (or idealism, which is what it amounts to) is a true account of reality? Answer: you can't.

    And even if someone could somehow prove that idealism is true, it would not change how I behave (as far as I can tell). The world we appear to share may just be appearances, but really we have no choice but to accept it as provisionally real.

    This is a meaty philosophy topic. One of greats.Yohan

    Agree. But I have no confidence humans can make any progress on the matter of what is 'real' or indeed what 'real' is meant to refer to.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    What difference would it make to our existence whether or not "we live in a simulation"? — 180 Proof

    That, my friend, is the right question. — Dr. Lanning (I Robot)

    Pragmatic, I salute you!

    Re Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz & his law of the identity of indiscernibles. As you can see, if I can't tell the difference between x and y then, in my world, x = y. That's all there is to it! From the uchi (inside), identical but from the soto (outside), not! We have to somehow exist the simulation safely (stay intact, sensu amplissimo) and then, only then, can we discover the truth of the matter.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    To answer the OP's query we would have to

    1. Figure out the hallmarks of a simulation. Just like how NASA looks for biosignatures, we too must first suss out and then search for simsignatures.

    2. Reconstruct the mind of our creator (the coder who developed the sim) e.g. quite clearly His/Her moral compass needs work but that's only assuming the bad isn't a necessary evil, a software package sorta thing.
  • Yohan
    671
    Because, as I said, there is no way of knowing if simulation theory is useful for understanding anything. How do you propose demonstrating that simulation theory (or idealism, which is what it amounts to) is a true account of reality? Answer: you can't.Tom Storm
    'Demonstrate' leans toward an empirical epistemology, which I don't think is the right kind of epistemology to use when exploring metaphysical claims.

    It's more a question about how we map out reality.
    A materialist map and an idealist map can both be the same in the broad strokes.
    The difference is what the materialist and idealist consider the metaphysical status of the map itself.
    Is a map a tool to understand matter, or is matter a tool to understand the map?
    The idealist recognizes that 'matter' as a map-independent whatever, is a self-contradictory map.
    While 'matter' as a map-dependent concept, is not a self-contradictory map.

    And even if someone could somehow prove that idealism is true, it would not change how I behave (as far as I can tell). The world we appear to share may just be appearances, but really we have no choice but to accept it as provisionally real.Tom Storm
    Like some Zen guy said. Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water? Is that a reason to not seek enlightenment?

    I hope this is all relevant enough to the OP....
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Fair enough. You're right, I do tend to privilege empiricism and don't generally see any merit in speculations which cannot even (as far as I can tell) be assessed. The world of appearances holds the only map of reality humans can access, although it can be fun to read people like Don Hoffman and Bernado Kastrup on the illusions of materialism. Enlightenment? I have no sense of this term or whether it refers to anything except perhaps a primordial, Jungian-style archetype for a type of wisdom which I am not convinced exists.
  • Yohan
    671

    As you can see, if I can't tell the difference between x and y then, in my world, x = y. That's all there is to it!Agent Smith
    But then an idealist will say "If the world(x) is indistinguishable from a hallucination(y), then the world is a hallucination."


    The brain doesn't need something outside of itself to run a simulation. We run simulations when we dream.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    But then an idealist will say "If the world(x) is indistinguishable from a hallucination(y), then the world is a hallucination."Yohan

    Oh! But he can't say thaaat, can he now?
  • Manuel
    2.8k
    That's the thing about this topic, there is no good argument for this at all. It was made up, now you see some fancy scenarios about the probabilities that we could live in a simulation because a sufficiently advanced civilization could do this, bla bla bla.

    It has exactly the same weight as saying we are living in Einstein's dream, in another universe. How can you prove we are not? There's no way to do this. You can only say, justifiably, that I made it up - but it doesn't eliminate the plausibility.

    Then again, we could be cells in God's body or anything else. But if you continue making up scenarios infinitely, as one can, you see that this is just a game with little value.

    At least Putnam's brain in a vat, has uses about our mental capacities and the relation we have with the world. Simulation arguments don't even have any saving grace.
  • Benkei
    5.9k
    That's an intuition I share but I don't think we can fairly assume this. A higher universe might operate under different universal constants making the availability of energy to do the calculations a minor problem.

    Also, why assume an entire universe is generated instead of only what is observed? So in the simulation there would be no quantum universe except at the moment when you'd be looking for it. Rendering observations for 8 billion people and a bunch of equipment is less complex than an entire universe.
  • Yohan
    671

    Do you disagree that empirical science suggests all your experiences, ideas...whatever makes up you and your world view is in and created by the brain?

    Isn't the only question whether or not the brain has sort of created a copy of an actual world?

    The idealist takes it to the logical end. If everything we know can be reduced to brain states, then even the brain can be reduced to a brain state. That leads to infinite regress.
    On the other hand, if the brain is an outward representation of consciousness, then the brain is reducible to consciousness. No infinite regress.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    115
    It was after reading a book titled "The Simulation Hypothesis", that I started giving credence to the notion that we might probably be collectively (and individually) living in a simulation. It is also important to note that the word "simulation" might be insufficient to describe the true nature of this hallucination. Words such as hologram and/or memetic might be more appropriate.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    A logical question arises: If we live in a simulation, how can we never know it?
    Do we know in our dreams that we are dreaming? And wed do think, for a brief moment, that indeed we are, this would be part of the dream and only because we know what a dream is and what a conscious, awake state is.

    In an awake state on the other hand, we don't know any other kinds of conscious states so that we can recognize and call the existing one as a simulation.

    However, there are different kinds of conscious states and awareness. But they do not make someone lieve and have some other kind of existence. E.g., in a state of expanded consciousness, we would still be living in a simulation, and the whole Universe, as we know it, would be part of it.

    Bottom line is that there's no much meaning or use in thinking and talking about living in a simultation. Well, except if we are writing a science-fiction scenario or book. :smile:
  • ssu
    6.3k
    How likely do you think this is? What are the major arguments for and against the idea of a simulation? Would you mind personally if it were? And do you think a simulation must be determined (programmed) or could it allow for free will (a sort of self coding open-simulation) ?Benj96

    Just think about a limited scenario: What if in this Forum there are only two people and you, @Benj96, are the other and the other one is just a frantic administrator using clever algorithms to create different kind of answers from so-called "other" people? Actually, nobody else than you can join into this forum.

    Even in this more limited scenario, the above mentioned issues would take hold: So? What is your problem if it would be so? You won't meet us... likely you won't take the bus and notice the person sitting next to you is on the Philosophy Forum. As @180 Proof said above:

    What difference would it make to our existence whether or not "we live in a simulation"?180 Proof
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