Confirmed! We live in a simulated world (ultimate DIY)

#1
C C Offline
Never doubt question Elon Musk again
https://www.scientificamerican.com/artic...imulation/

EXCERPTS (Fouad Khan): Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality. Such public intellectuals as Tesla leader and prolific Twitter gadfly Elon Musk have opined about the statistical inevitability of our world being little more than cascading green code. Recent papers have built on the original hypothesis to further refine the statistical bounds of the hypothesis, arguing that the chance that we live in a simulation may be 50–50.

The claims have been afforded some credence by repetition by luminaries no less esteemed than Neil deGrasse Tyson [...] Yet there have been skeptics. Physicist Frank Wilczek has argued that there’s too much wasted complexity in our universe for it to be simulated. [...] Others, such as physicist and science communicator Sabine Hossenfelder, have argued that the question is not scientific anyway. Since the simulation hypothesis does not arrive at a falsifiable prediction, we can’t really test or disprove it, and hence it’s not worth seriously investigating.

[...] All computing hardware leaves an artifact of its existence within the world of the simulation it is running. This artifact is the processor speed. If for a moment we imagine that we are a software program running on a computing machine, the only and inevitable artifact of the hardware supporting us, within our world, would be the processor speed. All other laws we would experience would be the laws of the simulation or the software we are a part of. If we were a Sim or a Grand Theft Auto character these would be the laws of the game. But anything we do would also be constrained by the processor speed no matter the laws of the game. No matter how complete the simulation is, the processor speed would intervene in the operations of the simulation.

In computing systems, of course, this intervention of the processing speed into the world of the algorithm being executed happens even at the most fundamental level. Even at the most fundamental level of simple operations such as addition or subtraction, the processing speed dictates a physical reality onto the operation that is detached from the simulated reality of the operation itself.

[...] Within the abstract world of programmed mathematics, the processing speed of operations per second will be observed, felt, experienced, noted as an artifact of underlying physical computing machinery. This artifact will appear as an additional component of any operation that is unaffected by the operation in the simulated reality.

We can see now that the speed of light meets all the criteria of a hardware artifact identified in our observation of our own computer builds. It remains the same irrespective of observer (simulated) speed, it is observed as a maximum limit, it is unexplainable by the physics of the universe, and it is absolute. The speed of light is a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe.

But this is not the only indication that we live in a simulation. Perhaps the most pertinent indication has been hiding right in front of our eyes. Or rather behind them. To understand what this critical indication is, we need to go back to our empirical study of simulations we know of. [...] The algorithm that represents the character and the algorithm that represents the game environment in which the character operates are intertwined at many levels. But even if we assume that the character and the environment are separate, the character does not need a visual projection of its point of view in order to interact with the environment.

The algorithms take into account some of the environmental variables and some of the character’s state variables to project and determine the behavior of both the environment and the character. The visual projection or what we see on the screen is for our benefit. It is a subjective projection of some of the variables within the program so that we can experience the sensation of being in the game. The audiovisual projection of the game is an integrated subjective interface for the benefit of us, essentially someone controlling the simulation. The integrated subjective interface has no other reason to exist except to serve us...

Pretty much since the dawn of philosophy we have been asking the question: Why do we need consciousness? What purpose does it serve? Well, the purpose is easy to extrapolate once we concede the simulation hypothesis. Consciousness is an integrated (combining five senses) subjective interface between the self and the rest of the universe. The only reasonable explanation for its existence is that it is there to be an “experience.” That’s its primary raison d’être. Parts of it may or may not provide any kind of evolutionary advantage or other utility. But the sum total of it exists as an experience and hence must have the primary function of being an experience. An experience by itself as a whole is too energy-expensive and information-restrictive to have evolved as an evolutionary advantage. The simplest explanation for the existence of an experience or qualia is that it exists for the purpose of being an experience.

There is nothing in philosophy or science, no postulates, theories or laws, that would predict the emergence of this experience we call [phenomenal] consciousness [contrast to the other type of consciousness]. Natural laws do not call for its existence, and it certainly does not seem to offer us any evolutionary advantages. There can only be two explanations for its existence. First is that there are evolutionary forces at work that we don’t know of or haven’t theorized yet that select for the emergence of the experience called consciousness. The second is that the experience is a function we serve, a product that we create, an experience we generate as human beings. Who do we create this product for? How do they receive the output of the qualia generating algorithms that we are? We don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, we do create it. We know it exists. That’s the only thing we can be certain about. And that we don’t have a dominant theory to explain why we need it.

So here we are generating this product called consciousness that we apparently don’t have a use for, that is an experience and hence must serve as an experience. The only logical next step is to surmise that this product serves someone else.

Now, one criticism that can be raised of this line of thinking is that unlike the RPG characters in, say. Grand Theft Auto, we actually experience the qualia ourselves. If this is a product for someone else than why are we experiencing it? [...] This is a very rudimentary connection between the player and the character, but already with virtual reality devices we are seeing the boundaries blur. When we are riding a roller coaster as a character in say the Oculus VR device, we feel the gravity.

Where is that gravity coming from? It exists somewhere in the space between the character that is riding the roller coaster and our minds occupying the “mind” of the character. It can certainly be imagined that in the future this in-between space would be wider. It is certainly possible that as we experience the world and generate qualia, we are experiencing some teeny tiny part of the qualia ourselves while maybe a more information-rich version of the qualia is being projected to some other mind for whose benefit the experience of consciousness first came into existence.

So, there you have it. The simplest explanation for the existence of consciousness is that it is an experience being created, by our bodies, but not for us. We are qualia-generating machines. Like characters in Grand Theft Auto, we exist to create integrated audiovisual outputs. Also, as with characters in Grand Theft Auto, our product mostly likely is for the benefit of someone experiencing our lives through us.

What are the implications of this monumental find? Well, first of all we can’t question Elon Musk again. Ever. Secondly, we must not forget what the simulation hypothesis really is. It is the ultimate conspiracy theory... (MORE - details)

RELATED: The Interface Theory of Perception ..... Do we see reality as it is? ..... Why this computer scientist thinks reality might be a video game

RELATED ("The Partially Examined Life" philosophy blog):
Saints & Simulators - 1st installment of series
Saints & Simulators - final installment #23
Saints & Simulators - reverse order list of installments
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#2
confused2 Offline
I suspect 'Never doubt Elon Musk again' is an April 1st special.
But.
The proposition is that the clock speed of the computer generating reality may or may not leave some observable consequence.

If we agree that the laws of physics are the same in every frame..
We start with two frames at different gravitational potentials and compare the speed of the clocks in the two frames.

The way frames behave is a consequence of the constant speed of light - and leads to infinite variation not the consistency spun by the article in the OP.

If the clocks themselves are generated by a master 'reality' clock then the resolution of the clocks will be limited by the resolution of the reality clock. The clocks have to tick at some integer multiple of the master clock.

A caesium clock ticks at around 10 Ghz (10^10 Hz) with an accuracy of 1 part in 10^16 which suggests the lowest clock speed of the reality clock must be higher than 10^26 Hz. Gamma rays have a frequency of around 10^19 Hz and are rather unpleasant.

I conclude that a cpu clocked at 10^26 Hz would radiate like crazy and that radiation is not detected therefore there is no such cpu at the root of reality.

It is (I think) far easier to build a rock than it is to build a simulation of a rock - therefore I conclude the rock (and everything else) is 'real' and not a simulation of itself.
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#3
C C Offline
(Apr 4, 2021 11:13 AM)confused2 Wrote: I suspect 'Never doubt Elon Musk again' is an April 1st special.
But.
The proposition is that the clock speed of the computer generating reality may or may not leave some observable consequence.

If we agree that the laws of physics are the same in every frame..
We start with two frames at different gravitational potentials and compare the speed of the clocks in the two frames.

The way frames behave is a consequence of the constant speed of light - and leads to infinite variation not the consistency spun by the article in the OP.

If the clocks themselves are generated by a master 'reality' clock then the resolution of the clocks will be limited by the resolution of the reality clock. The clocks have to tick at some integer multiple of the master clock.

A caesium clock ticks at around 10 Ghz (10^10 Hz) with an accuracy of 1 part in 10^16 which suggests the lowest clock speed of the reality clock must be higher than 10^26 Hz. Gamma rays have a frequency of around 10^19 Hz and are rather unpleasant.

I conclude that a cpu clocked at 10^26 Hz would radiate like crazy and that radiation is not detected therefore there is no such cpu at the root of reality.


Yes, but most people reflexively believe in presentism -- that there is an absolute, global "now" that is constantly being replaced, and ignore the difficulties that subatomic events introduce in terms of how their own conscious, subjective version of "this moment" would have to extend over a multitude of yoctosecond changes or differences which accordingly do not co-exist in that belief. Also, never mind how contradictory things become when they might contingently entertain time-travel into the past (which does not exist in presentism).

Quote:It is (I think) far easier to build a rock than it is to build a simulation of a rock - therefore I conclude the rock (and everything else) is 'real' and not a simulation of itself.


Rocks are "real" in terms of how the perceptual experiences of the brain represent received information about configurations of stable excitations in fields (particles). With respect to each human (if not other animals as well) outputting similar representations (consensus achieved, agreement in the way that most browsers depict a web-page roughly the same).

Or put another way: Has anyone ever clarified what a completely pure or uncompromised "non-simulation" is supposed to be? Perhaps that was one of the final varieties of classical atomism, wherein the world was composed of tiny bits of actual "solid stuff" with interlocking shapes, subsisting in an inflexible background space not dependent upon relationships between contents.

It would require an insane amount of memory and computational processing to maintain every particle constituting a rock (especially when they normally aren't observed or detected even by an instrument). So a simulation would place the emphasis on macroscopic phenomena or discriminated conceptions like "rocks" being kept more in reality-play (actually update the developments of something that is animated rather than usually static), and leave what's rarely "observed" at the microscopic magnitudes (by physicist experimenters) to some statistical probability framework that the game developers work out. (Worry more about a coherent "order" that observed events in the simulation are conforming to than a strict or constant procedural existence of _X_ items.)

Needless to say, a level prior to this one would probably have to be vastly more impressive in terms of what its constraints allow (it can't be a repeat of the same limited "physics" template), unless the situation here is one of solipsism (only one resident in the simulation with legit consciousness as opposed to "many minds" co-interacting in a consensus network). Excluding the possibility of the capabilities of quantum computers being open-ended no matter how many levels they are nested inside each other.

The gist of it is that the more advanced our own simulations become in terms of how designers work around proposed problems, the more incrementally feasible the simulation hypothesis seems to become. Even a dream could be a much more convincing reality if the brain regulated it by rules rather than emotions and subliminal desires (i.e., wandering around in incoherence).
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#4
Zinjanthropos Offline
I guess when the day comes where our simulated universe catches up to the time when someone first turned it on then that will be the end of it, no need to go any further. That is if our simulated universe is being used to study the past by recreating it. Wonder how it’s going so far? Was anything left out or a complete surprise? Who do I ask?
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#5
C C Offline
(Apr 4, 2021 05:42 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: I guess when the day comes where our simulated universe catches up to the time when someone first turned it on then that will be the end of it, no need to go any further. That is if our simulated universe is being used to study the past by recreating it. Wonder how it’s going so far? Was anything left out or a complete surprise? Who do I ask?

Would explain the indifference of the gods, if they were just conducting experiments.

But the same applies to the video game scenario -- just like reading a novel or watching a movie, we want characters in a world that is messed-up; otherwise the story is boring, pre-schooler stuff (Barney the Dinosaur territory). Those craving the most violent and chaotic games don't realize how exciting even their ordinary lives would be to potential beings confined to strict, predictable routine or outright stasis.

It takes eternalism to eliminate prior-in-rank "gods" once and for all, by granting that the incremental differences of the world subsumed under our concept of "time" actually co-exist (rather than being created/caused and annihilated one after another). As long as even atheists believe the universe consists of short-lived states outputted and managed by "laws" or regulating processes (including the latter as ascribed to simulation procedures), then humanity still has its head stuck in that particular bunghole (i.e., the pantheon of deities).

An example of that below arguably takes an unnecessary step. Since laws, rules, principles, etc regarded as having a governing manner of existence (beyond the mere mathematical description abstracted from patterns and structure of the cosmos) would already be a precursor of proto-intelligence or outright intelligence. I.e., ignore the contingent personhood facade and the latter fundamentally revolves around standards and discriminating judgements (organized preferences and biases) that echo systematic, fundamental physical constraints.

Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?
https://nautil.us/issue/42/fakes/is-phys...telligence

INTRO: Perhaps Arthur C. Clarke was being uncharacteristically unambitious. He once pointed out that any sufficiently advanced technology is going to be indistinguishable from magic. If you dropped in on a bunch of Paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, you’d undoubtedly seem pretty magical. But the contrast is only middling: The farmers would still recognize you as basically like them, and before long they’d be taking selfies. But what if life has moved so far on that it doesn’t just appear magical, but appears like physics?

After all, if the cosmos holds other life, and if some of that life has evolved beyond our own waypoints of complexity and technology, we should be considering some very extreme possibilities. Today’s futurists and believers in a machine “singularity” predict that life and its technological baggage might end up so beyond our ken that we wouldn’t even realize we were staring at it. That’s quite a claim, yet it would neatly explain why we have yet to see advanced intelligence in the cosmos around us, despite the sheer number of planets it could have arisen on—the so-called Fermi Paradox.

For example, if machines continue to grow exponentially in speed and sophistication, they will one day be able to decode the staggering complexity of the living world, from its atoms and molecules all the way up to entire planetary biomes. Presumably life doesn’t have to be made of atoms and molecules, but could be assembled from any set of building blocks with the requisite complexity. If so, a civilization could then transcribe itself and its entire physical realm into new forms. Indeed, perhaps our universe is one of the new forms into which some other civilization transcribed its world.

These possibilities might seem wholly untestable, because part of the conceit is that sufficiently advanced life will not just be unrecognizable as such, but will blend completely into the fabric of what we’ve thought of as nature. But viewed through the warped bottom of a beer glass, we can pick out a few cosmic phenomena that—at crazy as it sounds—might fit the requirements... (MORE)
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#6
Syne Offline
(Apr 2, 2021 02:36 AM)C C Wrote: We can see now that the speed of light meets all the criteria of a hardware artifact identified in our observation of our own computer builds. It remains the same irrespective of observer (simulated) speed, it is observed as a maximum limit, it is unexplainable by the physics of the universe, and it is absolute. The speed of light is a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe.

The finite speed of light is required for a non-simulated reality as well. Without it, different frames of reference could not be related, through a Lorentz transform, they would effectively be their own pocket universes, could not change their velocity, as that would be a change from one frame to another, and gravity would not work, as it's an acceleration.

Quote:There is nothing in philosophy or science, no postulates, theories or laws, that would predict the emergence of this experience we call [phenomenal] consciousness [contrast to the other type of consciousness]. Natural laws do not call for its existence, and it certainly does not seem to offer us any evolutionary advantages. There can only be two explanations for its existence. First is that there are evolutionary forces at work that we don’t know of or haven’t theorized yet that select for the emergence of the experience called consciousness. The second is that the experience is a function we serve, a product that we create, an experience we generate as human beings. Who do we create this product for? How do they receive the output of the qualia generating algorithms that we are? We don’t know. But one thing’s for sure, we do create it. We know it exists. That’s the only thing we can be certain about. And that we don’t have a dominant theory to explain why we need it.

They conspicuously leave out religions, which have explained the emergence of consciousness since the dawn of history. If experience is generated for the benefit of the human soul, there is no great mystery. Definitely not one requiring the unparsimonious positing of a whole other reality to explain things like consciousness and the finite speed of light.

(Apr 4, 2021 04:05 PM)C C Wrote: Yes, but most people reflexively believe in presentism -- that there is an absolute, global "now" that is constantly being replaced, and ignore the difficulties that subatomic events introduce in terms of how their own conscious, subjective version of "this moment" would have to extend over a multitude of yoctosecond changes or differences which accordingly do not co-exist in that belief. Also, never mind how contradictory things become when they might contingently entertain time-travel into the past (which does not exist in presentism). 

An absolute time is not a fundamental part of presentism. And even without absolute time, there is a universal "now". Different frames just don't agree on when their own "now" coincides with that of another frame. Yes, in extreme cases, one frame's "now" can last the duration of many "nows" of another frame, but that doesn't mean those "nows" don't related to each other universally. In all frames, the order of events (cause and effect) is maintained, specifically due to the finite speed of light.

No actual physics allows for "time-travel into the past", regardless of the philosophical take on time.

Quote:The gist of it is that the more advanced our own simulations become in terms of how designers work around proposed problems, the more incrementally feasible the simulation hypothesis seems to become. Even a dream could be a much more convincing reality if the brain regulated it by rules rather than emotions and subliminal desires (i.e., wandering around in incoherence).

That seems like nothing more than scientism, where people just presume that past scientific advancements imply that there's no limits to future advancement, given enough time, regardless of our current understanding and evidence of those very limits.

(Apr 5, 2021 05:17 PM)C C Wrote: But the same applies to the video game scenario -- just like reading a novel or watching a movie, we want characters in a world that is messed-up; otherwise the story is boring, pre-schooler stuff  (Barney the Dinosaur territory). Those craving the most violent and chaotic games don't realize how exciting even their ordinary lives would be to potential beings confined to strict, predictable routine or outright stasis.

You don't even have to posit some other-realm beings to see that. Humans are willing to play any game rather than no game, even games of addiction, depression, or any other hell people create for themselves.

Quote:It takes eternalism to eliminate prior-in-rank "gods" once and for all, by granting that the incremental differences of the world subsumed under our concept of "time" actually co-exist (rather than being created/caused and annihilated one after another). As long as even atheists believe the universe consists of short-lived states outputted and managed by "laws" or regulating processes (including the latter as ascribed to simulation procedures), then humanity still has its head stuck in that particular bunghole (i.e., the pantheon of deities).

No, eternalism only means that every event in time is created simultaneously. So while it could possibly eliminate an active, intervening god, it doesn't eliminate a watchmaker god. And considering omniscience, it doesn't even preclude an intervening god, as that god would have the foresight to create said interventions at the same time as every event throughout time. That actually makes both the laws of nature (which wouldn't actually play out or evolve over time) and the divine interventions both equally divine.
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#7
Yazata Offline
(Apr 2, 2021 02:36 AM)C C Wrote: Never doubt question Elon Musk again

Why not? I really like Elon, mainly because he tries to do things that I've wanted to see done all my life. I stand in awe of his entrepeneurial genius. (In that respect, but perhaps only that respect, he's sort of the Einstein of our time.)

But that being said, I feel no obligation to take his philosophical speculations as inerrant gospel. I'd love to discuss philosophy with him in his kitchen over a few beers and joints though. But expecting him to be a fount of philosophical truths is probably as mistaken as expecting Einstein to be a fount of religious truths.

Quote:EXCERPTS: Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality.

I still wonder about what the claim that reality is a "simulation" is really asserting.

The idea of a 'simulation' suggests a model that captures some relevant aspects of some real world entity or event. So right out of the gate, the claim that our universe is a "simulation" seems to boil down to a claim that it isn't truly real and merely copies some aspects of something else that it stands in for and pretends to be.

That kind of idea obviously isn't new in either philosophy or religion. There's the familiar idea of heaven, or of a "higher" divine reality, that is somehow responsible for creating this inferior realm that we inhabit and from which we can escape if we follow the correct religious path. There's Hindu Advaita's idea of the relation between Brahman and Atman with its goal of realizing just whose consciousness is looking out through our eyes (God, who in effect is playing a video game in which we are his game avatars).

In philosophy there's Platonism and it's "higher planes" (the source and inspiration for the Western occult tradition) ranging from Plato's higher world of forms to the supposed spirit world (and in neoplatonism an even higher ineffable "One" above everything else from which everything else emanates like sunlight.)

There are no end of historical antecedents for the idea that our reality is merely a... projection... cast by some "higher reality". That was probably the prevalent view around the world prior to the rise of modernity. Its echoes still linger in many places and many people still hunger for it.

It's a bit ironic that if these kind of ideas were proposed straightforwardly as theistic arguments (as we saw with neoplatonism, vedanta, and even Madame Blavatsky), then our intellectuals would almost certainly kneejerk in disdain and disgust. But wrap the idea of heavenly transcendence up in pseudoscientific drag, and they leap hungrily at very similar ideas.

Quote:The claims have been afforded some credence by repetition by luminaries no less esteemed than Neil deGrasse Tyson. [...] Yet there have been skeptics. Physicist Frank Wilczek has argued that there’s too much wasted complexity in our universe for it to be simulated. [...] Others, such as physicist and science communicator Sabine Hossenfelder, have argued that the question is not scientific anyway.

I agree with that.

Quote:Since the simulation hypothesis does not arrive at a falsifiable prediction, we can’t really test or disprove it, and hence it’s not worth seriously investigating.

But I'd argue with Sabine there. Just because something isnt falsifiable doesn't mean that it isn't worth investigating. All of science, including Popper's falsifiability criterion, are based on philosophical presuppositions that aren't themselves falsifiable.

These neo-transcendentalist "simulation" claims certainly aren't scientific though, and maybe she's right that scientists would be better off leaving it to the philosophers, Hindu theologians, occultists and theosophists.

Quote:[...] All computing hardware leaves an artifact of its existence within the world of the simulation it is running. This artifact is the processor speed.

Wait a minute! We are supposed to hypothesize a super-computer able to produce an almost infinitely complex interactive "simulation" (simulating... what?) of an entire universe from the microscale to the macro, billions of galaxies, billions of billions of planets each with its own history (some doubltlessly very exotic) which I think was basically Wilczek's objection up above, yet is hamstrung by finite processor speed? That seems awfully arbitrary and it needs a lot more defense I think.

Part of the problem here might be basing the "simulation" hypothesis on our contemporary computer technology that is limited by things like processor speed (and memory size and all kinds of things). Which seems arbitrary and unjustifiable. If our hypothetical universe-generating computer is unlimited in one respect, why shouldn't it be unlimited in all respects? If it exists, why couldn't the "simulation" be generated by entirely different principles, by something very unlike our own computers that human beings have never even considered. Something more like neoplatonism's divine emanations or even divine creation?

Quote:We can see now that the speed of light meets all the criteria of a hardware artifact identified in our observation of our own computer builds. It remains the same irrespective of observer (simulated) speed, it is observed as a maximum limit, it is unexplainable by the physics of the universe, and it is absolute. The speed of light is a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe.

"The speed of light IS a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe"?? It may seem to the author to follow from his assumptions, but those assumptions are seemingly pretty gratuitous. At best he's argued that the speed of light might be consistent with his imaginary assumptions.

So what's the difference between laws of nature (like the speed of light according to relativity) somehow being inherent in this universe (the naturalist version), their being the product of the entirely hypothetical computer system that the "simulation" fanticists imagine is generating our reality, and those same laws being the will of God at creation? Their existence is no more consistent with the "simulation" hypothesis than with either of the other alternatives.

The bottom line may be simply that we don't know. And given the ancient problem of universal skepticism, revived in our time by 'brains in vats' (the simulation hypothesis), if our predicament isn't just the possibility that we might be wrong about any particular judgment in isolation (an error that might be discovered by its lack of coherence), but instead wrong about everything that we can possibly know in totality (the entire universe), then there would seem to be no way that we ever could know. That possibility was known to the ancient Greek skeptics.    

The rest of this thing veers off into a rather vedantic style argument using vocabulary from the contemporary philosophy of mind. I'm not interested in following this author down that rabbit hole.
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#8
Syne Offline
(Apr 6, 2021 05:15 AM)Yazata Wrote: The idea of a 'simulation' suggests a model that captures some relevant aspects of some real world entity or event. So right out of the gate, the claim that our universe is a "simulation" seems to boil down to a claim that it isn't truly real and merely copies some aspects of something else that it stands in for and pretends to be.

It's all turtles from there down. IOW, it's an infinite regress. If one reality is a simulation of another, no one could tell which reality wasn't a simulation without some criteria to falsify the hypothesis. And if there is such a criteria, it should be testable in each reality.

Quote:It's a bit ironic that if these kind of ideas were proposed straightforwardly as theistic arguments (as we saw with neoplatonism, vedanta, and even Madame Blavatsky), then our intellectuals would almost certainly kneejerk in disdain and disgust. But wrap the idea of heavenly transcendence up in pseudoscientific drag, and they leap hungrily at very similar ideas.

That illustrates the natural hunger humans have for an ultimate, or more transcendent, reality. Leftists do it with government and atheists do it with scientism.

Quote:Just because something isnt falsifiable doesn't mean that it isn't worth investigating. All of science, including Popper's falsifiability criterion, are based on philosophical presuppositions that aren't themselves falsifiable.

Falsifiability is a practical and empirically supported demarcation between science and speculation. Falsifiability is required to test a hypothesis. If a hypothesis cannot be falsified (tested), it's no better than speculation.

Quote:"The speed of light IS a hardware artifact showing we live in a simulated universe"?? It may seem to the author to follow from his assumptions, but those assumptions are seemingly pretty gratuitous. At best he's argued that the speed of light might be consistent with his rather arbitrary assumptions.

So what's the difference between laws of nature (like the speed of light according to relativity) somehow being inherent in this universe, their being somehow the product of the entirely hypothetical computer system that the "simulation" fanticists imagine is generating our reality, and those same laws being the will of God at creation? Their existence is no more consistent with the "simulation" hypothesis than with the other alternatives.

That's where falsifiability comes in. The laws of nature being inherent to this universe is actually the null hypothesis, as it requires postulating nothing further. While that doesn't rule out god or simulation, it does tell us the scope of useful scientific inquiry.
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#9
C C Offline
(Apr 6, 2021 05:15 AM)Yazata Wrote:
Quote:EXCERPTS: Ever since the philosopher Nick Bostrom proposed in the Philosophical Quarterly that the universe and everything in it might be a simulation, there has been intense public speculation and debate about the nature of reality.

I still wonder about what the claim that reality is a "simulation" is really asserting.

The idea of a 'simulation' suggests a model that captures some relevant aspects of some real world entity or event. So right out of the gate, the claim that our universe is a "simulation" seems to boil down to a claim that it isn't truly real and merely copies some aspects of something else that it stands in for and pretends to be.

That kind of idea obviously isn't new in either philosophy or religion. [...] There are no end of historical antecedents for the idea that our reality is merely a... projection... cast by some "higher reality". That was probably the prevalent view around the world prior to the rise of modernity. Its echoes still linger in many places and many people still hunger for it.

I often wonder what a non-simulated reality is supposed to be. IOW, when have we ever not (locally) been experientially surrounded by a "simulation"? To unpackage that...

If the "simulation" attributed to a video game or a demonstrative research process is what it presents via the screen and speakers, then it's a kind of conversion taking place. The digital data and programming stored and running in the computer (that is "real") gets converted to the depiction of an external environment (etc) via devices whose effects are likewise "real" in their own way.

In the context of particles being excitations in fields or any number of other bizarre scenarios that scientific realism offers about the meta-phenomenal world, then the brain itself is producing a simulation from the sensory information it receives (performing a conversion from abstract affairs to macroscopic concrete objects or empirical events slash patterns).

"Conversion" would have been necessary even back in the days when atoms were conceived as interlocking shapes composed of inert material moving about in a classical void absent of fluctuating virtual particles. (Though such historical, fictional, inadequate "building blocks" could not have accomplished the wide range of biological and physical feats of nature that we're presented with.)

Quote:
Quote:The claims have been afforded some credence by repetition by luminaries no less esteemed than Neil deGrasse Tyson. [...] Yet there have been skeptics. Physicist Frank Wilczek has argued that there’s too much wasted complexity in our universe for it to be simulated. [...] Others, such as physicist and science communicator Sabine Hossenfelder, have argued that the question is not scientific anyway.

I agree with that.


With respect to Wilczek, just how many video games are designed with utopia and blissful perfection in mind? Perhaps ones issued to Amish kids, if their communities allowed them? The apocalyptically dark and violent games (but those still clinging to realism) almost certainly want to mimic some of the wasted complexity and menacing "randomness" or disorganization of our world.

Quote:
Quote:Since the simulation hypothesis does not arrive at a falsifiable prediction, we can’t really test or disprove it, and hence it’s not worth seriously investigating.

But I'd argue with Sabine there. Just because something isnt falsifiable doesn't mean that it isn't worth investigating. All of science, including Popper's falsifiability criterion[1], are based on philosophical presuppositions that aren't themselves falsifiable.

In addition, just how dogmatic are those personal edicts themselves, sometimes, in proclaiming that this or that technical proposal is not falsifiable? [This includes when authors themselves humbly assert such, and their critical reviewers then lazily agreeing rather than assessing _X_ on their own or taking a contrarian stance.] Such soap-box authority suggests anything from precognition to omniscience to time-travel into the distant future on the part of the decreeing individual. Or at the very least a lack of confidence in the ingenuity and resourcefulness of later generations. 

A single experiment rarely kills a popular or even slightly useful "theory" that the former "disagrees" with in terms of results; and if replicated, the scientists of today may respond by simply adjusting their inferential product so that it is no longer in conflict with the data. It becomes a reciprocal relationship, inviting modifications rather than total rejection.

Also, models are more in use today than theories.[2]

If practicing scientists actually adhered to this philosophical demarcation as much as the overall community chatters about it, then items like string theory wouldn't still be hanging around and the social sciences would be dead and buried. The notorious lack of significant progress for decades in the foundations of physics seems to guarantee speculative, abstract constructs (appealing to the postmodern merits of "beauty" or "mathematical elegance") lingering indefinitely for the sake of job security.

- - - footnotes - - -

[1] Robert P Crease: "For him [Popper], the falsifiability criterion was not itself falsifiable. It is a methodological principle ­-- a philosophical test or model of what science would look like if reconstructed in logical terms." --Finding the flaw in falsifiability

[2] Ashutosh Jogalekar: "Models are both simpler and less rigorous than theories and they apply to specific, complicated situations which cannot be resolved from first principles. There may be multiple models that can account for the same piece of data. As a molecular modeler I am fully aware of how one can tweak models to fit the data. Sometimes this is justified, at other times it's a sneaky way to avoid admitting failure.

"But whatever the case, the fact is that falsification of a model almost never kills it instantly since a model by its very nature is supposed to be more or less a fictional construct. Both climate models and molecular models can be manipulated to agree with the data when the data disagrees with their previous incarnation, a fact that gives many climate skeptics heartburn. The issue here is not whether such manipulation is justified, rather it's that falsification is really a blunt tool to judge the validity of such models. As science becomes even more complex and model-driven, this failure of falsification to discriminate between competing models will become even more widespread.
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