• Manuel
    2.8k


    Empirical science is agnostic about metaphysics. You may occasionally hear the odd statement about being a "materialist" and even more rare, being an "idealist", but most scientists don't have a metaphysics - they probably don't even think about it, which is fine, the work they do does not require it.

    I agree that the organ we take to be a brain, are what we - with good reason - take to be the source of experience. That's a representation. The thing is, I don't think it intelligible to suppose that experience "copies" anything. It represents, from rather poor stimulus, a very rich world. That's not a copy.

    The topic here, as I understand, is that we are literally living in a computer simulation. There is no evidence for that at all. You could call the world we construct a "simulation". I think that terminology is rather strange. But, everyone is free to use these terms as they wish.
  • Yohan
    670
    The topic here, as I understand, is that we are literally living in a computer simulation.Manuel
    OK
  • Hallucinogen
    96
    It depends on how you're defining it.
    A computer simulation? Run by a CPU? No. We aren't a program, you can prove that to yourself by observing that you can define anything however you want, or by observing that you can make up any symbol you like to stand for any meaning you like. There's no program for that; it's protocomputational.

    A self-simulation, (a la Chris Langan) whereby reality as a monic substrate is replicated within all of its constituent parts? Yes, that's how anything is allowed to interact with everything else.
  • jorndoe
    2.1k
    "Programmers may be programs" could go on indefinitely/infinitely/regressively.

    There's a whole class of these kinds of thought experiments ... brain in a vat, the dream argument, The Matrix as Metaphysics (Chalmers), The Butterfly Dream (Zhuangzi), Zhuangzi And That Bloody Butterfly (Tallis), maya (the Vedas), Descartes' evil demon, the veil of Isis, ...

    Formulated as a proposition, p, they're often thought up in such a way that all available evidence is compatible with both p and ¬p. So, metaphysics, indeterminate, like a difference that makes no difference.

    EDIT: ditched quantum woo comment
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    EDIT: ditched quantum woo commentjorndoe
    :smirk:
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    The Boltzmann brain thought experiment suggests that it might be more likely for a single brain to spontaneously form in a void (complete with a memory of having existed in our universe) rather than for the entire universe to come about in the manner cosmologists think it actually did. — Wikipedia

    This is all the Boltzmann brain's dream! :snicker:

    Shout out to @Wayfarer if you're watching.
  • Yohan
    670
    The topic here, as I understand, is that we are literally living in a computer simulation.Manuel
    Simulations are only mind generated. You can't "literally" live in a simulation. When you play a video game the mind projects 3dimensional depth onto the screen. It would be the same if a computer were directed linked to the mind.

    Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane--like all dreams
    Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger
  • Manuel
    2.8k
    You can't "literally" live in a simulation.Yohan

    This I agree with.

    I'm not following the bit about the computer being linked with the mind. Does that mean that we are living in a videogame of some kind? You can describe life in many different ways.

    Depends on the goal.
  • Yohan
    670

    I should have said directly linked to the brain I guess.

    Videogame machines/programs are tools we use to create simulations. Usually we create these simulations consciously and for fun, knowing its a sort of sub-reality.
    We can talk about the rules (laws of nature) of video game worlds, but we don't mistake the nature of the videogame world for the nature of reality on the whole.

    Likewise the laws of the world we imagine ourselves to be in now aren't necessarily the laws of reality on the whole.
    We may be in a sub-reality.
  • Manuel
    2.8k
    Likewise the laws of the world we imagine ourselves to be in now aren't necessarily the laws of reality on the whole.
    We may be in a sub-reality.
    Yohan

    I'd say we don't know enough to determine whether the laws we study are or are not fundamental to the universe. So, not so much sub-reality, as representations. We seem to be locked away from "things in themselves."
  • introbert
    80
    There is probably something simulation-like about creation. I don't prescribe to the computer simulation hypothesis, or that we are ideas in gods mind or anything like that. However I think of simulation like 'copy', that we live in a copy that keeps being re-simulated since it first occurred. I can't help but think the cyclical nature of life is a cosmological fractal of many smaller copies of itself throughout its creation. Each a simulation of the simulation. My own life will be simulation of the death of the universe, which is a simulation of something so catastrophic my own death is only a beautiful metaphor for it.
  • dclements
    493
    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
    We don't have technology advanced enough to create a simulation potentially good enough to trick the human mind so it is not really here or there for us to try to predict what such a simulation would be like. The only thing we do know is that it will be awhile before we get there and it is likely that "if" a good enough simulation is built, it is almost a given the human mind wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    I don't know about other people but I think it is a given that almost all people need an "escape" from reality from time to time whether it be watching tv, reading a book, drinking, playing video games, going to a strip club, etc., etc. where our minds are not dong something productive. However to be trapped in some place which isn't "real" can be scary, especially if such place isn't that pleasant to being with. The only thing I can associate with such a possible experience is sometimes when I'mtrapped in a dream, I know I'm in a dream, and I can't wake up and sometimes these dream are at the same time unpleasant in other ways.

    I guess if a simulation (or something else that is similar to a dream like world) was pleasant enough it might not make that much of a difference as long as didn't have anyone on the outside that was in some way dependent on me. There are several variables to such a situation but it is kind of safe to say that someone that stayed in a simulation too long there would be problems if they also had a real world to contend with, and if a so called brain in a vat (BIV) lived it's entire existence in such a place it would likely be as content (or as much as the simulation choose to let them be) unless for some reason they found out that they were actually just a BIV. I don't know the psychological term or condition when someone goes from being in something like a fantasy world to something like the day to day world we like in, but I'm guess it would be something like an extreme version of culture shock.

    Back in the 90's there was a video game called "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" that kind of dealt with the potential social, technological, political, etc. issues with potential future technology. One of those technologies was called the Mind/Machine Interface. The reason I think it is worth mentioning MMI is that it is almost given that some form of MMI would need to be created before it would be possible to have any kind of simulated world you mentioned in your OP. Also the old X-box 360 had a game called "Remember Me" where in a future dystopian world people could record and play back memories - either for themselves or other people. Obviously there would be good and bad things that could happen with such technology.

    Brain–computer interface
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain%E2%80%93computer_interface

    While I don't know what kind of world it will be like when we get around to creating real viable MMI that everyone can use, but it is almost a given that it will create as many (or likely much more) problems than when people started being able to use personal computer. While I know there are many authors wrote books and several movies where made on the subject of MMI, I think you get the general idea without me having to go too far on the subject.

    Alpha Centauri Mind/Machine_Interface
    https://alphacentauri.fandom.com/wiki/Mind/Machine_Interface
    Alpha Centauri quote for MMI
    https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/alphacentauri_en/images/6/66/Mind_Machine_Interface.mp3/revision/latest?cb=20211006173731

    Intro to Remember Me video game


    Remember_Me_video_game
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remember_Me_%28video_game%29
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    If nothing is NOT 0 bits (contains information) then the world is a simulation. Why?, you ask. Because empty space, like the ones between the words in this sentence, is considered a character (spacebar) just like the other symbols (a, #, 2, so on) by computers; for a computer nothing is something; sorry ancient Greeks and way to go Hindus? Indians? both?
  • Cuthbert
    999
    I got a call from Google Maps apparently from a friendly guy asking about office opening times. I tried to help and had a couple of questions. He repeated his original question and I wondered whether I'd gone on mute because he didn't seem to have got my last comment. So I tried again. Pause. Then: "I am having trouble understanding your answers. Please visit Google Maps to update your data." Man, I was spooked. Anyway, the point is - not only could we be living in a simulation, we actually are.
  • Yohan
    670
    One argument is that ultimate reality should be so real that questioning it would seem absurd, non-sensical, self-refuting. Like questioning if 1+1 really equals 2.

    I find it very easy to question the ultimate reality of this "world."
    I can easy imagine it not existing.

    In fact, a common question philosophers ask is why there is something rather than nothing. In other words, why does the world exist?
    We ask this question because it seems strange that there is anything at all.
    Intuitively timeless spaceless total nothingness makes more sense.
    There should be nothing, but apparently there is something.
    But it can't be made sense of.
    Something coming from nothing doesn't make sense.
    And the idea of this world of space and time always having existed also doesn't make sense.
    If anything, this world existing is self-contradictory.

    "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the case." Arthur Conan Doyle
  • magritte
    491
    Something coming from nothing doesn't make sense.
    And the idea of this world of space and time always having existed also doesn't make sense.
    If anything, this world existing is self-contradictory.
    "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the case."
    Yohan
    After eliminating the possibility that the world 'exists', however you take that word, something else must be the case. No?
  • Yohan
    670
    After eliminating the possibility that the world 'exists', however you take that word, something else must be the case. No?magritte
    I don't know, I think I was talking nonsense
  • magritte
    491
    Fair enough, and so is everyone else. :brow:
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER. — Multivac
  • Varde
    316
    A simulation is a state where what is, is not what it seems, but is the result of a higher power(such as an engine or computer).
  • Yohan
    670
    It occurred to me that either/or might not be the best way to frame the question.

    Rather, to what extent do I live in simulation?

    My guess is that most of what I think of as "the real world" is my own projection and narrative, most of which I adopted from somewhere.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    It is irrelevant. We are not living in a simulation. If you insist we are then there is only the simulation therefore the ‘simulation’ is in fact identical to ‘reality’.

    The question is a basic error in reasoning.

    Other questions that follow this dead end are ‘what is real?’ instead of simply addressing what we mean by ‘real’ and understanding that our understanding is necessarily limited. The limitation of our senses allows us to develop knowledge, as knowledge exists purely as a point of reference not as some irrefutable source all springs from.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    It is by now obvious that there's no way we can tell the difference between simulation and real - the evidence that we need lie beyond our collective event horizon. Plus taking the simulation hypothesis, in essence skepticism, to its logical conclusion would mean we'll never ever be 100% sure even if we find strong evidence to support this hypothesis. So I suggest we stop trying and simply get on with our lives - we're wasting our time, oui mes amies?
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    What difference would it make to our existence whether or not "we live in a simulation"? — 180 Proof
    Pragmatic, I salute you!
    Agent Smith
    To a pragmatic non-philosopher a realistic simulation would make no difference. But inquiring minds want to know. For example, Descartes, skeptical of his own ability to know the ultimate truth, postulated that a "demon" could be deceiving him, except for the solipsistic feeling of knowing thyself. Today, we might call that demon an extraterrestrial Alien, or a mundane AI that has miraculously become omniscient & omnipotent.

    However, Descartes seemed to be confident that his skepticism would reveal any "glitches" in the Matrix. That self-assurance was based on his "mind-better-known-than-body doctrine". So, the "difference" for a philosopher seems to be confidence in his own reasoning ability. However, if you discover no glitches, despite being alert for them, pragmatically it's all the same to you. Unless, you are an impractical idealist philosopher by nature. :cool:

    mind-better-known-than-body doctrine :
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/
  • Benj96
    671
    It is irrelevant. We are not living in a simulationI like sushi

    Okay put it this way. Consider you're born with locked in syndrome - you're paralysed and can only think and receive input from your senses. Luckily I have technology to provide you senses with whatever input I wish. I can feed your brain motor feedback so it feels like you can move around and navigate and interact with the biome that's programmed and fed to you. Your nutrition health etc all you needs are met but you're floating in a stasis tank.

    The programming can be changed to any parameters - a day could be 52 hours long, all food could taste like pizza, dogs may be replaced with a completely new animal that doesn't exist. You've never known anything else but this world I've coded and am transmitting to your brain via your senses. The reality I see every day is quite different to to the one you know. Would you say you live in a simulation? Or would you say you live in the same reality as me except you nothing about it due to the illusion I have upheld around you for your entire growth, development ever since you could remember.
    And how would you feel if I suddenly turned off the machine and showed you what's actually outside the tank?
  • Benj96
    671
    We don't have technology advanced enough to create a simulation potentially good enough to trick the human minddclements

    Why so? Is a simulation not at its broadest definition a set of conditions that restricts and directs the ways in which a person believes reality exists. At what point is the general commonly experienced reality different enough from an individuals to say they are living in an illusion constructed for them?

    For example the truman show. A fake world with paid actors all there to fool one man for TV. That technology is already avaliable. If you put someone in a specific place and restrict their movement and coerce their behaviours to avoid questioning it... Making sure they don't stray to the border of their confines who's to say they arent living in a simulation? One scripted just for them
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    Like I said, irrelevant. My reality is the only reality I know.

    Such a scenario only shows this better. You cannot expect me to be completely fooled by your hypothetical simulator and yet not be fooled by it at the same time.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    [Syād] If the universe is a simulation, everything in it should be computable, like in a game world.

    Black holes are where God divided by zero. — Steven Wright
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    If the universe is a simulation, everything in it should be computable, like in a game world.Agent Smith

    :up: :sparkle:

    Black holes are where God divided by zero. — Steven Wright

    :down: :zip:

    There is no God. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either — Stephen Hawking
    :sparkle:
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    :up:

    Syād, simulation, sim-creator/God?
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