• jasonm
    20
    I am sure that all of you have heard it before: "We are living in a 'simulation' and such a virtual world is the same as the 'real world' in every respect, except that it is simulated and therefore 'not real.'"

    I have a few arguments against this notion:

    First, if the world is simulated, why don't its 'designers' simply 'pop out' at times and leave us with some trace of their existence? Guidance through such a virtual world might be helpful, and yet there is no trace of anyone 'programming' or 'guiding' us anywhere.

    Similarly, why don't we sometimes notice violations of the laws of physics? If it's just a simulation, does it matter if the laws of physics are perfectly consistent? This applies to any law of this simulated world, including propositional logic. Again, if you are there, leave us with some trace of your existence through 'miracles' and other types of anomalies that our world does not seem to have. And yet there seems to be no instances of this kind.

    Third: what type of computing power would be required to 'house' this virtual universe? Are we talking about computers that are bigger than the universe itself? Is this possible even in principle?

    Nevertheless, I think the best answer comes from Occam's Razor: "Explanations that posit fewer entities, or fewer kinds of entities, are to be preferred to explanations that posit more."

    In that sense, I think the notion that the universe is 'simulated' is completely superfluous and can therefore be explained away as being 'highly improbable.'

    Your opinion?
  • Ludwig V
    932
    'highly improbable.'jasonm
    That's very generous.

    If this world is simulated, the "real" world must be very like this one - as in the "Matrix". But then, it if the real world is very like this one, does it include all the evidence that this world is simulated. In other words, will the inhabitants of the real world believe that they are living in a simulation. So the real world is also a simulation.....

    But how do we know that this world is a simulation if we have no access to the real world and cannot compare one with the other?

    I cannot distinguish the idea that this world is simulated from a fantasy or, better, a nightmare.
  • jkop
    706


    If a simulation exists, then there must exist at least one more thing (or set of things) which is constitutive for the simulation, e.g. a brain, a computer, their materials and properties and surrounding conditions of satisfaction. Therefore, everything cannot be a simulation.

    Furthermore, if the simulation (e.g an emergent property within a network of electrical circuits) is about something (e.g. our world at the level of humans and mid sized objects), then we have at least three things to consider: the simulation (emerging from electric circuits), what causes it (a brain and computers etc), and what it is about (a part of our world). So, not only is it impossible for everything to be a simulation, the simulation is just one thing among many other things in our world.

    To know whether the things that we experience belong to the simulation or to the non-simulated parts of our world we can investigate what's necessary for something to be experienced as a frog, for instance.

    A frog is not just a constellation of coloured shapes that hop around for no apparent reason. Simulations, pictures, or descriptions of frogs are syntactically disjoint and detachable in a way that real frogs are not. Real frogs are continuous, recalcitrant, and seamlessly connected to other creatures and environments, which in turn are connected to chemistry, physics, astrophysics, cosmology or everything. Our ability to identify frogs, as frogs, has a causal history that arguably amounts to everything, but everything cannot be a simulation.
  • Ludwig V
    932
    If a simulation exists, then there must exist at least one more thing (or set of things) which is constitutive for the simulation, e.g. a brain, a computer, their materials and properties and surrounding conditions of satisfaction. Therefore, everything cannot be a simulation.jkop
    I like that argument a lot. :smile:

    Furthermore, if the simulation (e.g an emergent property within a network of electrical circuits) is about something (e.g. our world at the level of humans and mid sized objects), then we have at least three things to consider: the simulation (emerging from electric circuits), what causes it (a brain and computers etc), and what it is about (a part of our world). So, not only is it impossible for everything to be a simulation, the simulation is just one thing among many other things in our world.jkop
    "Three things" might prove to be contentious, depending on how you define "thing". But the conclusion seems to me to be sound.

    A frog is not just a constellation of coloured shapes that hop around for no apparent reason. Simulations, pictures, or descriptions of frogs are syntactically disjoint and detachable in a way that real frogs are not. Real frogs are continuous, recalcitrant, and seamlessly connected to other creatures and environments, which in turn are connected to chemistry, physics, astrophysics, cosmology or everything. Our ability to identify frogs, as frogs, has a causal history that arguably amounts to everything, and a simulation cannot be everything.jkop
    You are, rightly, thinking of me as a passive spectator in the simulation. You have left out a really important point. We are embodied and active in the world. So the frog is not just a "constellation of coloured shapes" (and sounds, smells, touches and even tastes), but also something that we interact with (as the frog interacts with us). For me, it's the interaction that distinguishes the real frog from the dream. True, I can imagine an illusory frog that I don't interact with, but only because I sometimes interact with the things that I perceive.
  • jkop
    706


    You're right, our bodies, sense organs, and interactions with frogs amount to our ability to identify them. The causal history, however, is what makes it necessary to experience the frog as a frog and not as a hopping constellation of colored shapes.

    Another argument against the simulation hypothesis might be this:

    A simulation is a representation, and a representation is selective and asymmetric relative to what it is a representation of. For example, a painting of Mona Lisa represents Mona Lisa, but Mona Lisa doesn't represent the painting. It is impossible to produce a complete representation of Mona Lisa in the sense that the representation becomes equivalent to, or a duplication of the real Mona Lisa. Photo copies of the painting represent the painting and perhaps also Mona Lisa, but they are only duplications of each other, as copies, not of the original painting, nor of Mona Lisa. Although this example only considers visual features, the argument applies to any of her features, e.g. sound of her voice, scent, feel of her skin etc. Therefore, it is impossible to produce a complete representation or simulation of Mona Lisa.

    Yet many people seem to believe that the whole universe, or at least our experienced part of the universe, is or could be a simulation.
  • Barkon
    112
    If the universe is simulated or in part simulated, it doesn't make it any less real, it just means the product of the universe came about through non-conventional means(it's beginning was not the answer discovered by looking at what the evidence shows, directly, but it was something indirect, such as a great vortex instead of a big bang). This could be to make things more efficient, if it can be made semi permanently without making a huge explosion, why not? It also may allow for forcing luck/bias such as creating a life supporting planet where a perfect eclipse occurs. In all fairness, simulation may occur even where the universe did come about through a massive explosion, in zones, to split the mass of it all. Simulation doesn't just mean 'it's secretly fake', it can also mean 'more efficient' or 'biased'.
  • Ludwig V
    932
    The causal history, however, is what makes it necessary to experience the frog as a frog and not as a hopping constellation of colored shapes.jkop
    I think the point goes deeper than that. We can experience a constellation of coloured shapes as a frog, but only as a picture of a frog. My past experience acting in the world no doubt contributes to that. But to seriously fool me as a real frog, it would have to respond to my attempts to catch it (by hopping out of reach). Can I be fooled into thinking I am attempting to catch it? I would have to have all the sensory inputs, including the proprioceptive inputs that tell me where my body is and what it is doing. But if that was all controlled by the simulation machinery, I would not feel that I was doing it - my "body" would not be my own. The inputs would have to respond to my outputs - the signals that would, in real life, control my body. That is, inputs from the machinery would never be enough. I would have to be in control of my "body". The machinery has to respond to me - it has to become my body.

    Yet many people seem to believe that the whole universe, or at least our experienced part of the universe, is or could be a simulation.jkop
    "Universe" is a bit slippery here. If it means "everything that exists", we have to take into account that a simulation cannot be everything that exists, because it must be a simulation of something and that something must be real - an alternate reality. We are used to the idea that there can be alternate worlds in the same universe nowadays, but the idea of alternate universes presupposes that there can be no communication of any kind from one to another.

    If the universe is simulated or in part simulated, it doesn't make it any less real,Barkon
    The idea of "real" is also slippery here - or better, it's meaning is contextual. A simulation of a battle isn't a real battle, but it is a real simulation, and it is a simulation of real (or possibly real) events. I think you are proposing that a whole universe might be simulated by a process that would be controlled in order to serve some purpose. But if everything is included, not only is there no reality to be simulated, but also there is nowhere for the creators (or their hardware) to be. So I don't quite understand what you are getting at here.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    First, if the world is simulated, why don't its 'designers' simply 'pop out' at times and leave us with some trace of their existence?jasonm

    Surely you can imagine why. What you have proved so far is that, if we are in a simulation run by conscious beings, those conscious beings don't think like us humans.

    Similarly, why don't we sometimes notice violations of the laws of physics? If it's just a simulation, does it matter if the laws of physics are perfectly consistent?jasonm

    If our world is a simulation, violations of the laws of physics would be bugs. But being that the simulation is a program, it should be deterministic, and therefore consistent; so within our perspective, those bugs would just be seen as features, the only ones who could possibly identify bugs are the programmers.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    why don't its 'designers' simply 'pop out' at times and leave us with some trace of their existence? Guidance through such a virtual world might be helpful, and yet there is no trace of anyone 'programming' or 'guiding' us anywhere.jasonm

    Perhaps it's a game. Maybe the hints are all around us; in philosophy, perhaps in various scriptures spanning many cultures and times, Easter eggs hidden all over the 'map'. We at least know whatever type of "nature" we live in it seems to enjoy competition.

    Similarly, why don't we sometimes notice violations of the laws of physics?jasonm

    We see inconsistencies at the frontier of science and discovery all the time. "Paradox" exists as a concept with dozens if not hundreds of examples spanning linguistics, physical principles such as time . The Hubble constant appears to be constantly contested due to vast discrepancies in several independent attempted measurements. Gravity has not been resolves with the standard model. Glitches? Perhaps?

    Third: what type of computing power would be required to 'house' this virtual universe? Are we talking about computers that are bigger than the universe itself? Is this possible even in principle?jasonm

    All that is required is to generate one's immediate surroundings. The entire universe does not have to be simulated to the same degree of resolution. Also resolution is relative, perhaps for a highly advanced super computer, what we experience requires very low CPU - a highly pixelated version of what could be generated. How would we know any better? How could we ever imagine a world woth higher definition than that humans are currently capable of perceiving.

    Perhaps many players are philosophical zombies - only simulations of people. NPCs.
    Maybe you Jason, are the only real players in the simulation. Then again, perhaps you are designed only to believe you are.

    Fir the record I don't actually believe we live in a simulation. I just enjoy playing the devil's (simulations) advocate. It's not as easy to discredit as one might think.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    If this world is simulated, the "real" world must be very like this one - as in the "Matrix".Ludwig V

    Why so? Surely the programmers can create whatever physics, chemistry and phenomena they like.
    Perhaps the passage of time is exclusive to this simulation and that the higher dimensional beings that created it exist at all times simultaneously.

    Perhaps our simulated physics is created for the very reason that they may wish to study how a universe would unfold under different properties and circumstances to their own.

    What reason would an advanced simulating civilisation have for recreating an exact carbon copy of their own universe? Very few reasons other than maybe prediction? Which is unlikely if they're already far more advanced and evolved than us.

    Maybe it is to witness first hand how their own universe played out. To gain an insight into history -the programme we are running right now. Maybe AIs great great great grand reiteration wishes to witness the birth of itself.

    However, given these two reasons to simulate an identical universe, there are infinitely more reasons to simulate a non identical one.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    Therefore, everything cannot be a simulation.jkop

    True. But 99.99999999% of things can be simulated with one singularity type entity running the show. If we take "everything" as the set for which one phenomenon is "real" (ie the simulator) then the odds are very much against most things we know being actually "real".

    Perhaps there is some universally conscious god like entity and we are all merely a fever dream in its mind or "programme". There's really no way of knowing. Everything "objective", all scientific "proofs" would be merely be one minds "subjective" decisions in this case.

    Finally, in an even more wild hypothesis, perhaps such a highly advanced simulator would be non local. Simulating different parts of itself from different temporospatial points. In this sense nothing is "not simulated" it would just mean the simulation is relative at any given point to some other simulating component elsewhere. Mind fuck I know.

    Maybe quantum phenomena simulate us and we similarly simulate them in some strange mutually recursive iteration, and to avoid a cancellation or violating opposition of entangled simulators, when we observe quantum events they automatically collapse into a singularity thing to maintain our ability to "observe them" (simulate their existence).

    Ofc I'm on some fantasy rant here. But I enjoy dabbling in wild metaphysical speculation
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    Another argument against the simulation hypothesis might be this:

    A simulation is a representation, and a representation is selective and asymmetric relative to what it is a representation of.
    jkop

    How does this prove we aren't a simulation though? All it asserts is that should our existence indeed be simulated, it is imperfect when compared to the "original" or "real world/source of simulation".

    That doesn't prove we are not in a simulation. At most it suggests that there is a fundamental unknowability of the authentic world that we as simulations could never grasp fully.
  • RogueAI
    2.5k


    Minds and consciousness can't come from matter, therefore simulation theory is false.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    But being that the simulation is a program, it should be deterministic, and therefore consistent;Lionino

    Who says? If a simulation is wholly deterministic, there is no added value to run it in the first place. For all variables throughout the simulations play are already known by the creators.

    Perhaps an ultra advanced simulator can harness randomness and chaos to generate a simulation that is generated "live" in time based on randomness and subsequent unpredictable evolution.

    If you think about it, not only is such a simulation far more insightful for the creators, but it requires less control and therefore less programming. All that need be made is the initial function and then the system evolves in it's own way thereafter.

    Like a mandelbrot set. The initial function can continue infinitely creating various fractals whose emerging chaos and variables would be much harder to simulate entirely as one determined instantaneous entity.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    Minds/consciousness can't come from matter, therefore simulation theory is false.RogueAI

    How do you prove that? It seems at the very least, matter is the carrier medium of consciousness. A necessity. If not the source.
  • Lionino
    1.8k
    If a simulation is wholly deterministic, there is no added value to run it in the first placeBenj96

    There is, because

    For all variables throughout the simulations play are already known by the creators.Benj96

    is wrong.

    For the reason that our brains don't have the same computing power as computers, hence smart people are running simulations all the time.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    The OP has some problems. Most importantly, he has a reputation for posting an OP and then never returning to the topic. Hence I won't bother with direct replies.

    He doesn't seem to know the difference between the simulation argument (Bostrom is a good example of this) and a virtual reality argument (the Matrix is the typical example). The difference is spelled out in my fairly recent topic here https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/15060/what-is-simulation-hypothesis-and-how-likely-is-it

    Almost all of the arguments in favor of such things posit violations of the laws of physics. The VR hypothesis does by definition. Any simulated body being controlled by a real eternal mind/person operates under different physics than bodies that are not (called NPCs by the VR community).
    Bostrom similarly suggests that physical law changes depending on the simulation's determination of intent, which means that the simulation is tasked with gleaning meaningful intent out of particle motion.

    If this world is simulated, the "real" world must be very like this one - as in the "Matrix"Ludwig V
    Not true. We would have zero empirical access to the level that is running the simulation, so we can know nothing about it. It might not be a 3 dimensional space world with physics as we know it. That's kind of likely actually since our physics cannot be self-simulated. At the classical level, maybe, but not beyond that.

    Therefore, everything cannot be a simulation.jkop
    Good argument, but nobody asserted that 'everything is a simulation'. The argument still is valid that if we're 'probably' simulated, and if the simulating world is similar to ours, then they're also 'probably simulated'. But that's a lot of 'if's.

    In a VR, the frog, and even yourself is just a collection of colored shapes, as you put it. A VR is nothing but a simulated experiential feed to a real external entity (you). You would have no way of knowing if other people (or the frog) are similarly avatars under external control, or if they're just part of the simulation (an NPC).
    Yes, the apparent frog would have to apparently attempt to evade capture for it to be convincing. A simulation that doesn't do that would be simulating physics contradictory to the physics being presented to us.

    if the simulation (e.g an emergent property within a network of electrical circuits)jkop
    Just FYI, there are countless ways to run simulations. Networks of electrical circuits is but one, and those might not even be a thing in the world simulating us.
    There was a suggesting that it be done via domino chains falling down. That's a tough one, but I couldn't falsify the suggestion that a Turning machine can be made thus from dominos, so it apparently works. That means (presuming physicalism) consciousness can arise from falling dominos.

    If the universe is simulated or in part simulated, it doesn't make it any less real, it just means the product of the universe came about through non-conventional meansBarkon
    Agree with this, but not sure what conventional is here. Adding a more fundamental layer to the model, especially a more complicated one, just makes the problem harder, very similar to positing that God created it all. The god is harder to explain than the simpler universe.

    I agree that being simulated doesn't really make anything 'fake'.


    "Universe" is a bit slippery here. If it means "everything that exists",Ludwig V
    Definitions vary. In this topic, it is helpful to say 'world'. We are one world, and the level simulating us is another. Maybe they're simulating a bunch of them and we are running several simulations of our own. Those are all different worlds, all part of one 'everything that exists', which is a defintion I never liked anyway.

    The idea of "real" is also slippery here - or better, it's meaning is contextual. A simulation of a battle isn't a real battle, but it is a real simulationLudwig V
    The battle is real to those in the simulation, but not real to those running the simulation.

    If our world is a simulation, violations of the laws of physics would be bugs.Lionino
    Apparent violations would be bugs. Actual violations are seemingly necessary, to the point where I've never seen a hypothesis that didn't suggest fully consistent phsical laws. For instance, do we simulate the quantum interactions between a pair of protons in a star in some other galaxy? Or do we just simulate an occasional photon reaching Earth?

    Minds/consciousness can't come from matter, therefore simulation theory is false.RogueAI
    So the alternative has been falsified? News to me.

    If a simulation is wholly deterministic, there is no added value to run it in the first place. For all variables throughout the simulations play are already known by the creators.Benj96
    Lionino correctly points out the error here. Deterministic doesn't mean predictable. Simulations are run today precisely for the purpose of learning something unknown despite being fully determined. Car crashes are a great example of this, a far more cost effective method of testing automobile designs than crashing actual cars.

    -----
    Again, all this is covered in my other thread linked above.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    Car crashes are a great example of this, a far more cost effective method of testing automobile designs than crashing actual cars.noAxioms

    I'm not sure I fully understand. Forgive me, but are these simulations not the ones where they put crash test dummies in a model of car and ram it into a brick wall? How is that not crashing actual cars?

    Or do you mean studying thr aftermath of incidental crashes on the road? Not sure how often this actually happens as there would be a lot of legal red tape with ongoing investigations into real victims.

    Perhaps I am wrong about determinism tho. I always figured if variables were fully predetermined then the outcome would be invariably predetermined and fully predictable.

    Like 1 + 1 = 2.

    I figured that nothing is fully predetermined in real life experiment because there is almost certainly extraneous variables interacting to make the outcome for example 1+1 + X variable + Y variable + Nth variable = 2?
  • Barkon
    112
    agreed. This is miraculous.
  • Ludwig V
    932
    Surely the programmers can create whatever physics, chemistry and phenomena they like.Benj96
    Not quite. They can simulate them, but that just means they can create an illusion of them. They can't create them for real.

    Ofc I'm on some fantasy rant here. But I enjoy dabbling in wild metaphysical speculationBenj96
    Yes. It's a curious game. I've never understood the rules.

    It might not be a 3 dimensional space world with physics as we know it. That's kind of likely actually since our physics cannot be self-simulated.noAxioms
    Do you mean that no-one living in our world could create a simulation of our world? !!!

    The argument still is valid that if we're 'probably' simulated, and if the simulating world is similar to ours, then they're also 'probably simulated'. But that's a lot of 'if's.noAxioms
    Yes, it is. An infinite number, to be exact.

    The battle is real to those in the simulation, but not real to those running the simulation.noAxioms
    That's just a posh way of saying that the battle seems real to those in the simulation. Reality, by definition, is not "in" the simulation, but outside it.
  • Benj96
    2.3k
    They can't create them for realLudwig V

    But we are talking about simulations. It doesn't have to be real.
  • RogueAI
    2.5k
    Minds/consciousness can't come from matter, therefore simulation theory is false.
    — RogueAI

    How do you prove that?
    Benj96

    Why is the burden of proof on me? We know mind and consciousness exist. The existence of mind-independent stuff is simply asserted. I would like to see a proof that this stuff exists. Something a little more robust than "go kick a rock".

    It seems at the very least, matter is the carrier medium of consciousness. A necessity. If not the source.

    If that were true, there would be some account by now of how mind and consciousness emerge from matter. Instead, it's the philosophers winning the bets and the scientists losing them. How long are we going to tolerate science's failure to make progress on the hard problem?
  • Barkon
    112
    you're the one who made the claim. Of course the burden of proof is on you. I expect we'll have your answer sooner than maybe... Death. Or perhaps you'll lie again and use abstract communication to put your own troubles on the innocent/intelligent.
  • RogueAI
    2.5k
    you're the one who made the claim.Barkon

    I'm not making any claim other than we know mind and consciousness exist. It's up to the people asserting mindless stuff (i.e., matter) exists and consciousness and mind emerge from it to prove it.

    ETA: Regarding simulation theory, the burden of proof is definitely on those asserting mind and consciousness can emerge from electronic switches performing switching operations.
  • Richard B
    368
    Your are being too kind to call this even “highly improbable”. Just because we can imagine such fanciful scenarios does not mean they are possible.
  • noAxioms
    1.4k
    I'm not sure I fully understand. Forgive me, but are these simulations not the ones where they put crash test dummies in a model of car and ram it into a brick wall? How is that not crashing actual cars?

    Or do you mean studying thr aftermath of incidental crashes on the road? Not sure how often this actually happens as there would be a lot of legal red tape with ongoing investigations into real victims.
    Benj96
    No, none of those cases are examples of simulations. Yes, they're are crashing real cars. I'm talking about a computer model of a car crashed into a virtual brick wall, another car/truck, whatever... Yes, those simulations have occupants in them. Much of the point of the simulation to to find a design that best protects those occupants. The auto industry has huge computers dedicated to doing this sort of thing continuously.

    I have myself run plenty of simulations, but not being in the auto industry, most of mine didn't have living things simulated in them.

    Perhaps I am wrong about determinism tho. I always figured if variables were fully predetermined then the outcome would be invariably predetermined and fully predictable.
    That's what determinism means, yes. I don't think 'predetermined' is a distinct concept from 'determined'.

    There are valid interpretations of physics that are fully deterministic: Relativity theory, Bohmian mechanics come to mind. There are interpretations that are not deterministic, such as RQM or Copenhagen interpretations. Bottom line: jury is out on the subject.

    You'd think a simulation of reality would choose to simulate one of the deterministic models, but if I was tasked with implementing one, I would choose the nondeterministic ones since it is far less work. But it means things occurring without cause, such as the decay of some unstable particle.

    I figured that nothing is fully predetermined in real life experiment because there is almost certainly extraneous variables interacting to make the outcome for example 1+1 + X variable + Y variable + Nth variable = 2?
    It is unpredictable because the initial conditions of the system fundamentally cannot be known, but given a deterministic model and perfect initial conditions, the (closed) system will do the same thing every single time.

    That highlights a different issue with simulations: No system can be closed, so it is at the boundaries of the non-closed systems where one looks for the evidence of being simulated. The car crash thing is usually a closed system. There is no environment. There's the car and its target, and sufficient road to run the scenario. Nothing else.


    Do you mean that no-one living in our world could create a simulation of our world?Ludwig V
    Of course not. There would for one be a need for more data than there is medium on which to store it. You you need to simulate a small system, with far less effort put into simulation of the interaction of that small system with the part outside the system.
    For example, imagine an atomic simulation of a cc of water just sitting there in a tube, doing that under MWI, a hard deterministic model. I don't think any technology could simulate the water at that level for even one second. So you cut corners and don't simulate at that level unless something intentionally is paying attention to that level. Any you choose something like Copenhagen which is easier to simulate.


    That's just a posh way of saying that the battle seems real to those in the simulation.
    OK, 'seems' is a better word. But to us, we typically presume reality to be whatever 'seems' real to us without explicitly defining it that way.
    Heck, that's why I favor a relation interpretation, which explicitly says exactly that. X is real to Y. Being real is a relation, not a property, so by that definition, the battle IS real to those partaking in it.

    Reality, by definition, is not "in" the simulation, but outside it.
    By another definition (one very appropriate for this topic, yes), I agree. Reality might not be the world simulating us. We might be 27 levels down, but there's a base reality up there (as is typically presumed), and that one is 'the reality' by the definition implied by a topic like this.
  • jkop
    706
    How does this prove we aren't a simulation though?Benj96

    So if a picture cannot become a duplication of what it depicts we have little reason to expect that an increased sophistication of the depiction (e.g. computer simulation) could change the logic (asymmetry) of their relation. Therefore we have little or no reason to believe that we are in a simulation.

    A version of the argument might look like this:

    Assume that simulations are not duplications.
    Simulations of experiences are not duplications of experiences.
    Therefore, our experiences are not simulations.

    Some might want to add that our experiences are real, but the objects and states of affairs that we experience are simulations. But if we are in a simulation, then how could the word “simulation” refer to an actual simulation? If we are in a simulation, then the word 'simulation' doesn't refer to anything actual. Therefore, the claim “we are in a simulation” (i.e. an actual simulation) is false.
  • Ludwig V
    932
    So you cut corners and don't simulate at that level unless something intentionally is paying attention to that level.noAxioms
    So there are two ways that a simulation of our world would differ from the real world - sorry, the world as we know it.
    The first is that the whole of our world could not be simulated, because the hardware would have to be bigger than the whole (real) world.
    The second is that exact simulation of even a small part of the real world, down to sub-atomic and near-light-speed events could not be constructed, for the same reason.
    So it would not be possible to simulate the progress of research in physics over the last 100 years or so?

    I think you'll have to say that the hardware of this simulation we live in must be much, much more powerful than anything we can conceive of and that QM and GR are false. No?

    We might be 27 levels down, but there's a base reality up there (as is typically presumed), and that one is 'the reality' by the definition implied by a topic like this.noAxioms
    Surely, we have to presume there is a base reality, or face an infinite regress.
  • Ludwig V
    932
    Your are being too kind to call this even “highly improbable”. Just because we can imagine such fanciful scenarios does not mean they are possible.Richard B
    I agree. I understand the argument as being a version of Cartesian scepticism. The possibility that God, or an evil demon is feeding us false information is also a fanciful scenario. The paradox of the situation is that believers in it have to put more faith in their fancies than in their experience.

    Descartes did at least try to insulate his reflections from being mistaken for real, by proposing them as a thought experiment for academic purposes. I say "try" because so many people have treated his conclusions as objectively true and struggled to escape from the conclusion, when, on Descartes' own presentation, all they have to do is get up from their warm oven and go for a brisk walk in the fresh air.
  • Richard B
    368
    Also, I think many do not realize that the “God hypothesis” has come back in a stealthy sort a way. Instead of the watch needing a designer, the simulation needs a simulator.
  • Tom Storm
    8.5k
    I don't beleive we are in a simulation, but this is my reaction to your points.

    First, if the world is simulated, why don't its 'designers' simply 'pop out' at times and leave us with some trace of their existence?jasonm

    Why would or should they?

    Similarly, why don't we sometimes notice violations of the laws of physics?jasonm

    Why should we? The model may be perfectly coherent.

    Third: what type of computing power would be required to 'house' this virtual universe?jasonm

    If we are a simulation and there is a world outside ours, how would we know what is possible? Since we know nothing of the world outside the simulation, we don't even know if it is done via computers. Would it not be a mistake to assume that what applies in our world applies outside it? This seems an odd position to take.
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