Not necessarily. If we're in a simulation, then perhaps it's one that's a young superbeing's primary school science fair project, designed before they've learned much empathy.
If we're a child's school project, and we realize it, perhaps our best bet is to display some conspicuous redeeming value. Or at least be interesting.
Maybe we become an anecdote that boosts little Sally/Bobby Superbeing's application to a good superbeing college, and we end up preserved much longer, in a box of nostalgia in their parents' attic.
That would explain a lot.
Is this really true?? Modern human motives (sex, power, comfort) would be very familiar to even chimpanzees.
We can expect that energy is not free in the non-simulated universe. Through various algorithms, there may be great energy-savings. For instance, until the simulated advent of photometry, there was no need to simulate the relatively minor movement of the stars relative to each other; a simple static jpeg of the night sky would suffice.
When it comes to computing, as simulated beings improve their own efficiencies, the savings from improved algorithms reduces for the simulators. Eventually, any computing we do, the simulators will also have to do 1:1; because our algorithm and their own will be identical. We get expensive fast.
Now imagine what happens when we run our own simulations. That's the same as them running those simulations. Now if our simulations also run simulations, and so on, you 'very quickly' have a huge energy requirement that, if you're lucky, converges to a finite amount, but might not.
Now imagine you're the parents of this simulator child. :)
That is such a fascinating idea. A universe only running at the level of abstraction we can understand it. Perhaps Newtonian physics was actually complete until we forced the universe to bail out of that optimisation. Our damned scientists, heedlessly consuming the precious redundancy left for us by our simulators. You can see the cracks in reality already. God help us all if they figure out quantum gravity.
Very simply explained, that's literally quantum mechanics. Our reality changes depending on how close we look at it. Some quantum/computer scientists have gone so far as to say that reality "runs" extremely sophisticated quantum error correction algorithms to stabilize something so fundamentally unstable into our observable reality. It was even discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18817410
Also, the physical resolution of subatomic events has been decreased. This is a great resource saver, and in the event your sims explore the Science:Particle_Physics subtree, they will be stopped by quantum physics inherent randomness. Beware that in rare circumstances, some of your most clever sims might exploit a rare bug in quantum fluctuations which enables them to perform computations OUTSIDE THEIR SANDBOX. If this happens, revert to your previous backup and increase the negative traits of their leaders so they self-destruct and don't infect your other sims.
The simulation doesn't have to correspond 1:1 to what we consider it to be, they can use all sorts of hacks.
They could just implant in our (simulated) minds or instrument printouts, etc. the idea that we saw some increased accuracy in our measurements, without changing anything special about the simulated world.
Now let's say WA improves their algorithm and it becomes identical to the algorithm used by the simulators. Now the computation that WA does is 1:1 with the computation the simulator has to do. You could argue, well, maybe they use better hardware that can do it more efficiently. Sure. But then WA can eventually do it on that same hardware. As all this improves, it necessarily goes to 1:1.
You might, instead, just store all queries in a lookup table the first time they are made. That would reduce your energy requirements. But now you've just traded infinite energy requirements for a possibly smaller, yet still infinite space requirement.
So, I think what you're saying is that you would just fake it. You just "tell" the simulated beings that they did the thing, and you skip over it. I'm not really sure how that would work in practice. If I need the result of my WA query so I can do some other math, and I'm writing all this down, how did I get all this notation on the page and how is it correct without anybody doing the calculations? Do they just force me to see 'something' and tell me what I'm seeing is correct? How do I get to an ultimate useful result?
In any case, if you're just going to go mucking about with people's minds, why bother with conscious beings in the first place?
This does not "necessarily goes to 1:1".
That would require continuous progress, which the simulation might very well not be capable of. After all they've designed the universe, its physical laws, and constraints (including the thermal death of it). If they started with billion or trillion times more CPU power than anything we're up to now -- it could very well be that we'd never reach it.
In fact that could be a hardwired cap in our simulation. The very materials, laws, etc of the simulation could put a constaint on the demands of it.
The same way a NN that might have N inputs and L layers, wont ever magically grown more.
Our whole idea of 'computing' might not be any more universal in the higher level universe (of the creators of the simulation) than e.g. a simple algebra of addition and substation, or a matrix operation in a NN, is to ours.
Like they've set our "physical laws" (with e.g. theirs being nothing like it) they could have as well designed our math and logic possible within the universe, as a much smaller (with less expressive power and power demands) version of their own.
(In other words, I find limiting the idea often implied that the higher universe of the simulation creators needs to be just like ours, just with more computing power and advanced technology. Fundamental tenets of physical laws, math, and logic could be different -- the same way I can design a program that can just do addition).
>You might, instead, just store all queries in a lookup table the first time they are made. That would reduce your energy requirements. But now you've just traded infinite energy requirements for a possibly smaller, yet still infinite space requirement.
Or you could just feed bogus answers, that take little/no time to compute, but wire the "players" such that they think they got more detailed ones, which would be dirt cheap.
>So, I think what you're saying is that you would just fake it. You just "tell" the simulated beings that they did the thing, and you skip over it.
>I'm not really sure how that would work in practice. If I need the result of my WA query so I can do some other math, and I'm writing all this down, how did I get all this notation on the page and how is it correct without anybody doing the calculations?
Who said it has to be correct? It's enough that you (as a simulated being) believe is correct.
>Do they just force me to see 'something' and tell me what I'm seeing is correct?
>How do I get to an ultimate useful result?
"Useful" just means "able to affect/be applied" to the universe you (the simulated being) lives in. Which of core is the main specialty of the creator of such a universe: they can produce "useful" at will!
>In any case, if you're just going to go mucking about with people's minds, why bother with conscious beings in the first place?
Isn't this like saying "if you're going to be mucking about with weights, why bother with a neural net in the first place"? One could very well want a NN, and want to mess with the weights at any point they feel like it.
E.g. because you want to see what a simulated person will do under certain inputs, and revise those inputs, and so on. They don't necessarily want to see it (that is, us) "live its life fully free".
And even what we call "conscious" could be what the level of a worm or a NN is to us when compared to their consciousness.
These grew too long, but I basically make 3 (different, though some can be mixed) arguments in this. To recap:
1) If we assume that we could (if we try enough) reach the power limits of the host from within the simulation, then
they (the hosts) could just skimp on our more computationally demanding questions and have us convinced they run successfully and trust the BS answers we got. They could even hardwire the system so such answers appear to be fine when used.
2) The simulation could have a design-enforced cap of the computation it can use, the same way our simulated systems don't by themselves start demanding more energy. We might think our universe is "open ended" and could scale to all kind of high computational use, but it already has caps like laws of physics, logic, entropy, etc.
3) Our computations and their needs could be a grossly simplified version of the computational models on the "host" universe of the simulation creators, such thats it's laughingly low in resources (this is similar to 2, but from a different angle).
To respond, you're right, you can hypothetically do any of those things in the school project. Although I fail to see the point of consciousness in such a scenario, because you're basically just having conscious beings play D&D at that point. Everything is a success roll. The result matters, but you're throwing away huge chunks of information about the thinking beings. So why not just have mindless automata instead?
For a Bostrom-style ancestor simulation, those little details are the entire point of the simulation. You simulate the consciousness on purpose. You simulate the entire process because you're changing only a single variable. You might simulate the world if Lincoln hadn't been assassinated. You're likely running that same scenario multiple times to get probabilities of different results. You don't want to have a cheater function that returns T/F whether Lincoln had breakfast the next day. You don't want him to remember having had breakfast. You want him to actually have breakfast. So the shortcuts are out, because as soon as you introduce one, you have a different type of simulation.
For a full "ancestor simulation" yes, that's true.
Though does it have to be full, to look like reality does to us (e.g. for the simulation to be like what we live in)?
At some level, remembering X and having had X is the same with regard to the individual (especially if you can also make their organism not feel hungry, depleted, etc, the same as having had breakfast).
This reminds me of the "5 minute world hypothesis": "The five-minute hypothesis is a skeptical hypothesis put forth by the philosopher Bertrand Russell that proposes that the universe sprang into existence five minutes ago from nothing, with human memory and all other signs of history included".
This wouldn't be a "Bostrom-style ancestor simulation" that starts from the Big Bang say and lets everything unfold -- but it could still be a simulation that sees how such things as us, given the starting rules and conditions set at an arbitrary point in time behave.
I guess a problem with that is that it doesn't let our evolution/history fully freely unfold (from big bang and very limited initial configuration).
Then again, they could have had it "fully unfold", got to something like a "year 2500 A.D" humanity, and now are trying various changes at different eras to see what they get. In such a setup they can take shortcuts, because they know the tolerances of the system (and e.g. that a "fake full" stomach of Lincoln wont change anything of substance).
So, in the Lincoln assassination example, you could start the simulation at the moment you 'change history' because everything else that informs that moment is either present in your simulation (e.g., the temperature of the theater), or is in the past so actions on those items is informed by the participants memories. After that moment, I think you do need to simulate the whole thing. The reason is that the experiencing self makes decisions in the moment, and those decisions may inform the remembering self later.
And, of course, the whole thing rests on the nature of consciousness. If it's not a black box to the simulators they might be able to take shortcuts; or they may not have reason to generate consciousness at all if they know what consciousness will do in a given scenario.
Could you imagine our ancestors worshiping compression artifacts in the sky?
At worst we would just approach complexity rivaling the parent realities and our updates would take substantial lengths of time in their universe. Whereas the first billion years of simulation might have taken seconds, it might become the case that one of our seconds can take years of computation given enough complexity. But for us we wouldn't notice either way - our perception of reality is bound to our experience of time.
1. Perhaps the goal of the simulation is to prove it’s a simulation, sort of like Neo meeting the Architect
2. If we do prove it’s a simulation, perhaps we can make a plea to the creator for the things we want and need
3. It could be a combination of the two. If it’s a simulation and we discover it, perhaps the genie will grant us three wishes
Though it is also possible the author is correct. In any case, I would rather know the truth than remain ignorant.
2. is pointless. You can't. If while playing a video game, the game character turned to the screen and made a plea to you, would you listen? Or would you assume that it was a really weird game?
However, if our universe is a simulation, I'd posit that whoever created it has a reasonable assumption that self-aware life could arise from the experiment. Now, whether "self-aware life" is as important an achievement, or something to be preserved, to them as our current society... No one can answer that without being completely speculative - even if we do prove we're a simulation.
Maybe I'll take the lead when I meet Creator: "I have a QUEST for you.."
"1. Perhaps the goal of the simulation is to prove it’s a simulation, sort of like Neo meeting the Architect"
Yeah, and perhaps its not, and the simulation is discarded.
"2. If we do prove it’s a simulation, perhaps we can make a plea to the creator for the things we want and need"
And they'd listen to us because? What possible bargaining power would we have?
>Though it is also possible the author is correct. In any case, I would rather know the truth than remain ignorant.
That I can stand behind!
On a side not, it's simply incredible what modders still do with Skyrim and it's old engine.
A simulation, at least as we'd understand it, would mean some kind of set variables and set rules. It would be entirely deterministic, but you have to run it to see what happens.
That kind of sounds like…physics?
You have some basic elements like atoms and energy plus some set rules like conservation of mass, laws of thermodynamics, and the rest. Sure, we don't know what's going to happen next, but it does seem entirely determined.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding physics or the simulation hypothesis here. It's always seemed to me that we talk about a simulation as if it would be different than what we have now.
Why would the simulation be entirely deterministic? The simulations humans run often are not, see e.g. Monte Carlo simulations . Also, the laws of physics as we presently know them are not completely deterministic either .
For Monte Carlo simulations, we want to be sure that we're not imparting the biases we have on the model into the execution of the process itself.
As for quantum mechanics, it is only with out current understanding that we believe the process is non-deterministic. We'll see if that holds in a century.
Would simulation gods really be interested in us following good and bad rules, or more interested to see what happens if people do as they want?
If this is a simulation, my assumption is that it is to test if any highly intelligent and successful species is destined to destroy itself...
“Over there, third planet out.”
“Oh, those. Yeah, some kind of bug. It usually fixes itself, often in quite the fireworks at the end! Anyway, supposed to be fixed next version.”
You're assuming they care that the humans don't see any inconsistencies.
Why would you assume that humans be considered highly intelligent? The experiment might not be as flattering as you’d like to think.
Well, I for one would be curious to find out more about these gods.
This doesn't mean they have to be worshiped or the center of any religion, it would just mean omnipotent beings do exist.
but ultimately the point for me is that I just don't believe in "gods". it's not that I don't believe that the archetypes and characters introduced by mythology could never possibly exist, it's more that I don't personally believe that there is any intrinsic difference between us and them other than just the order of complexity upon which our experience of life and reality is founded. i believe more that the idea of "God" is more akin to the sum total of all information within a given "system" (be that system a universe, multiverse/omniverse, or some even further abstract concept); not so much a demiurge or some active participant, but rather an emergent phenomena that manifests as a synthesis of all of lower orders of complexity beneath it. this does not imbue the Godhead concept with any sort of special or separate nature, in my opinion, and in fact if anything, implies that divinity in and of itself is more just a specific modality of consciousness detached from the ego and the perspective of I-ness
There's a great short story by Greg Egan about this kind of thing, and even with this "spoiler" context it's still very much worth reading: http://ttapress.com/CrystalNights.pdf
At least that would mean the state of the universe isn't stored in a JSON object. That'd be nice to know.
Sure, if not directly circular then consider that our simulations today are used to explore choices/behavior before doing something, so it stands to reason that as each universe sim gets to some interesting data, the sim operators learn something, then change their behavior accordingly and tweak the sim and re-run, learning something new in turn, followed by more sim tweaks, ... etc.
We today learn new insights from AI and then change our behavior, pour $billions and dev time into designing better AI, etc...so there's definitely a symbiosis relationship.
And I expect that we will eventually want to design AI that designs better AI than we can ourselves, which will teach us how to design better AI-designing-AI...etc. :)
You can fine tune those like artists do with fractal renderer programs. Maybe the Universe is an art project exhibited in some kind of museum.
We could prove the existence of the simulation runners.
That does not suddenly mean theists were right. They would still be just as wrong as ever, making random assumptions without any evidence or scientific method at all.
Lets say we were able to find out that the simulation runner looked and acted exactly like Zeus; that still wouldn't make Zeus worshipers right, just incredibly incredibly lucky in one of their random guesses.
Someone can have a starting point of life with the genetics & environment conditions needed for all the events to happen for making the "right" theory.
Another person can have a starting point (different than the other person) and where all the events to prove with the scientific method of what is the "right" theory; matching the other person.
Realistically each person would be effected by forces from previous lives that made them come to the conclusion at the end.
There seem to be a number of other potentially important differences between living in a simulation and some other kind of "baseline" reality. One of those might be that a simulation sits inside of some kind of outer reality. It could therefore potentially be effected by that outer reality.
It would not have any sort of bearing on our lives, we couldn't break it or transcend it. Our feelings and our lives would feel just as real as before.
It would be the same with proving that we live in a simulation, or that there is a god or gods, except as others have pointed out, we'd probably seek sandbox escapes.
Also, not every proof of being a simulation would necessarily be that. Any proof that our universe is a 4D projection of another with different dimensions might not include a proof of the direction of projection -- ours might be the true reality, and the other a projection of ours.
“we couldn’t break it or trancend it”
The same thing has been said about many man-made electronic systems, and we know how that’s gone so far ;) So I think for 95% of people, nothing would change, but for the folks on the forefront of experimental / particle physics, quite a bit would change because we’d be looking for a whole new class of exploits/vulnerabilities/ways to affect change in the simulation.
Regardless, we're looking for glitches plenty, that is in my view, what modern physics is about. The study of glitches in our model and the adjusting of our model accordingly.
If we were in a simulation the "glitches" would probably be something small and subtle, at sub-atomic level, not something that teleports you or gives you superpowers.
At the very least, knowing that violations of the model might not mean the model is wrong, but that there are glitches in the simulation would have a big impact on the search and interpretation of such glitches.
No longer could you say, "Well, our model is wrong." Now you would have to say, "Well, our model might be wrong, but also this could be a flaw in implementation." And the latter may be more exploitable than the former; at least for awhile.
> If we were in a simulation the "glitches" would probably be something small and subtle, at sub-atomic level, not something that teleports you or gives you superpowers.
There's no guarantee of that at all. A bigger problem is that if we find a glitch, the simulators might just shut down the simulation, patch the glitch, roll back time a bit, and then restart it and we'd be none-the-wiser.
For the same reason I don't think the creators would roll us back: memory of finding previous bugs would make us better at finding new bugs in the future.
It's human nature to seek meaning. Knowing that we exist "merely" as simulacrums will greatly affect how we perceive our existence.
I would hope that most would react to this with indifference and continue life as usual, but who can say.
What if we could give them the experience of being human? Simulate the history leading up to it, along the lines of "if you don't know your history you are doomed to repeat it."
Split that larger AI into billions of tiny pieces to each experience love and loss. To collectively experience EVERYTHING. To understand the full butterfly effect of actions. To evolve an AI with the wisdom of a God.
Heck, maybe we even sprinkle hints into the simulation, broken up into pieces across different geographies and eras. Do multiple religions talk about the world being an illusion? About humans being made in God's image (maybe even like imaging a drive)? Maybe that's all projection and BS...
...or maybe there was something to it all along.
Certainly if this simulation is recursive, the odds of it being "the" simulation we are actually in is more likely than if it is not, and I do think simulating ourselves collectively would be a smart way to develop a very wise and forgiving AI that may just decided not to vaporize us the first chance it gets.
So not only are we very likely in a simulation, it's likely we are AIs and we are living through the lead up to our own creation.
If an AI created this simulation but is not actively part of it (I do think free will is an important component of the simulation), could we discover a way to import it?
If so, we'd only need to be able to open a passthrough and we'd have authentic AI well beyond anything we could hope to achieve within the next few centuries at least.
Along these lines, I think it's interesting to ask: "if we are in a simulation, what determines randomness?" In theory, a qubit in a superposition has two possible outcomes of equal weight. But why does it end up being one or the other?
Arguably, if our own consciousness is a manifestation of that AI, we might be able to answer how to import it by better understanding how we ourselves make decisions. Where does that embodiment of free will originate as a physical event, and could we recreate that physicality artificially? Would such a setup end up producing random junk, or a cohesive output?
Regardless, as others have stated in this thread, if we know we are in a simulation, we'll likely shift how we approach multiple domains, particularly in the sciences. And it's very likely that if we are currently coming to realize that we are in a simulation, that's the whole point.
Just because DNNs are hot right now doesn’t mean much. If you follow machine learning long enough, you’ll see hype cycles for various techniques. Neural nets used to be hot in the 80s, until they weren’t, and now they are again. Something else will come along soon enough. We use the techniques we do usually because the math works out, not because it’s anything like how our brains work.
In the first case, your new argument does not make sense, because the complexity of implementation does not matter to the result, and there's a clear improvement to it.
In the second case, I can assure you lots changed. The recent major things being ReLUs, self-supervised learning and attention mechanisms.
What test is there to quantify understanding that has been used to determine that it hasn't gotten better?
It seems to me that a lot of the things that are posed as hard things for AI to do are poorly defined phenomenon which we have no empirical test for that we simply infer to be explanations for observed behavior of humans that critics assert that AI can't do without evidence or even a definition upon which a search for evidence could be based.
we don't, but this is simply the faulty 'god of the gaps' reasoning applied to neural nets instead of deities. It doesn't really provide any insight or value to believe that neural nets are supposed to somehow magically solve problems they apparently can't solve.
Neural nets already consume significantly more compute and energy than even primitive biological agents with significantly worse results, so it appears to be very obvious that they aren't the whole story.
Let's say we can simulate a Newtonian physics universe faster than our universe operates at. Kind of like HashLife simulates Life faster, except we're fine shaving off some details if the macroscopic result is the same. The result would be a) that universe would be incapable of creating quantum computers, but b) we could leverage their higher clockrate existence
So unclear how this is a "lead up to our own creation" when we're already created
Imagine this simulation as a passthrough virtualization similar to Docker and not a full virtualization.
A long as our sub-simulation had access to the same means to resolve quantum results, they'd be able to create a quantum computer.
As for clockrates, isn't it interesting that near high mass gravity wells time slows down relative to the rest of the universe, much like you'd expect with a frame rate drop being sped back up to a fixed experiential frame rate?
As to recreating a God-like AI, we individually would likely be just fragments of the whole (Vedic sort of interpretation of God). So unless we can import that pre-existing AI (which should arguably be the fastest way to achieve the result), we'd need to create a simulation of collective experiences across history to achieve an AI with similar "wisdom."
As well, how could a God-AI create more God-AIs different enough from itself to recognize it as "other"? (Either in terms of having children or companionship?) Maybe running simulations that result in similar but different outcomes (the creation of a God-like AI but with different characteristics based on evolved outcomes) would be the best bet. Or creating AIs that start out thinking they are human and then having "create your own afterlife" options thereafter would eventually result in disparate enough intelligences to suffice.
It is very likely that what we consider important and what this simulation is supposed to be studying are going to be totally disjoint.
Maybe we were biologically evolved totally and completely differently from our creators outside of how we generally exhibit consciousness.
In a sense, we could eventually even be exported into that primary universe as immortal alien life in biological or mechanical form to physically populate and interact with other species.
Perhaps one of those variables tweaked between this universe and the parent one is just how empty our universe is. Running the same sort of simulation and bringing other species to life among whom we peacefully coexist could be the "win condition" for this simulation, demonstrating we are finally safe for re-introduction with a parent simulation.
In general, better understanding our simulation would be a smart idea to try and understand what if any win conditions exist.
But what if it were the "easy" way of creating humans?
Why assume that we're the "center of the simulation"? Why simulate the whole universe just to simulate us?
Maybe this is about simulate the universe expansion/contraction.
Maybe they are saying:
- hey, look, there is this tiny little simulation quirk here and they found out about the simulation.
- can that little error affect the universe expansion simulation?
- no, they are very marginal, small and useless.
- so keep going.
So, that said: Nick's ideas and books are awesome. Everbody should read it. But I just don't think we are that special, even if we're part of a simulation.
That said, if you accept that a Bostrom-style simulation is physically possible, I think Bostrom is still right, and we would most likely be the center of the simulation.
His basic argument is that if there is an original universe with humans, they might like to simulate their ancestors. And they are likely to run many such simulations, in at least some of which, humans survive. Those survivors, in turn, are also likely to run many such simulations, etc. on down the line. This means that such a high percentage of humans are simulated, that you'd have nearly infinitely better odds of winning the lottery than being a non-simulated human. To me, this means we should conclude we are the center of the simulation, since the fact that we exist implies we are probably in an ancestor-simulation.
> Why simulate the whole universe just to simulate us?
> Maybe this is about simulate the universe expansion/contraction.
Why simulate the whole universe just to simulate the expansion/contraction? There seems to be little need for conscious beings (or life at all), unless life and/or conscious beings is required in some way to explain expansion/contraction. (But if so, wouldn't that mean we ARE in fact the 'center of the simulation'?
I read somewhere that the smallest computer to simulate the universe necessarily has the size of the universe.
This would that either the real universe contains much more information (likely more than a few orders of magnitude more so that a trivial part of that Ur-universe can be allocated to simulate our universe), or recursion is not possible.
It's really human computing where it all falls apart.
Maybe cats are running a simulation of their ancestors?
Imagine a world of intelligent ants. You might picture them working in their colonies. You might imagine their social interactions.
Imagine a world where magic works according to certain rules. You’d think about how society functions, what sort of jobs people would have, you might even imagine some specific people.
You might do this spontaneously, or in response to reading some random idea in an Internet comment.
You are, in effect, running simulations. They are really basic and extremely low fidelity because the brain isn’t very good at it.
But consider a vast intelligence capable of imagining our entire universe the way we might casually imagine the appearance of a zebra with a giraffe neck. For such a being, this act of imagination might not even be intentional. They might not even realize they’re doing it.
Of course there’s no particular reason to think this is actually true, but I like the idea.
If that's not too far a stretch then maybe some civilization exists where their top notch model will create the world we experience. Maybe they don't care or aren't aware that the simulation simulate life. Maybe they just care about how the universe evolves, and we are a biproduct of that.
There's nothing to stop our creators from doing that anyway. Simulations are often stopped, tweaked, restarted, and eventually abandoned.
Personally, I think there's value to determining if we live in a simulation. If we do live in one, we could potentially learn how to "hack" the simulation from the inside in order to improve our lives in it.
Might not be wise to try and skip this level.
One idea is that if we are AIs capable of manifesting anything we imagine as reality, that could go WAY out of control for most of us (try dropping too much of a psychedelic). So starting us off in an environment controlled by a 3rd party would help us get our "infinite consciousness" legs before continuing on to the next level.
We can't CHANGE our reality, but we can totally change how we feel/think about that reality.
Kind of like Episode IV Jedi vs later. In Ep IV, they never actually change the physical reality around them. Just change how other people think about that reality, and how they think about themselves (Luke mentions he hit targets that size all the time, just not under pressure - all he really ends up doing is believing he can hit it and then achieving that).
So probably not lifting spaceships this life. But maybe believing in ourselves a bit more and collectively using what we know if our shared reality to help shape it.
I suppose it's possible that in some simulations "they" do leave the sky blank, in others they include randomly distributed stars, and in ours they've been grouped into galaxies. Perhaps if you were bored you'd try running it a few thousand times on each setting to see if it makes a difference?
Right. And why so much unnecessary detail down to the quark level?
(Of course, if you really like the simulation idea, maybe we're in an unimportant corner of the simulation and the real action being observed is elsewhere. Much simulation-hypothesis blithering has the same human-centered problem as theology.)
(More promising was Wolfram's attempt to define physics in terms of cellular automata, which does not seem to have worked out.)
How do you know it's simulated in detail? It could be just in a sufficiently coarse level of detail and compute detailed events only when they are observed at that level. Quantum mechanics actually has some spooky things that would be explainable by "lazy" computation of the universe.
Maybe they're just the kind of game designer who obsesses over details, even if those appear superfluous to the core experience. Like say, the makers of Star Citizen. Or Dwarf Fortress.
After all, many games in our own world have far more detail in their world building than we'd ever normally see, often even including stuff that's outside the view of the camera or contingent on the player doing something they'd never normally think of doing.
Alternatively, it could be for future DLC purposes. Or lootbox type gambling mechanics not yet implemented. Or hell, just dummied out 'beta' content. For instance, the Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild has every enemy killed instantly by the final boss' laser attack, despite the fact you're never going to encounter a single enemy in said battle. Why? Who knows, maybe it was planned at one point, or left in as a failsafe.
Same could apply to the 'real world' too.
But that's exactly how it is with our Universe! There's clear evidence that the important and relevant stuff happens only in the Solar System, and the rest of the Universe is just empty procedurally-generated useless filler.
Origin check, god(s) check, propagation delays check. Wave function collapse upon observation, check. Does a tree make a sound if no one is there to hear it? No, not necessary.
We should be doing two things. Trying to create a simulation universe. Success would make Elon's statement much more likely true than not. The other is make predictions, not so much as to prove we're in one like looking for glitches, but rather use the idea of being in a simulation to postulate testable ideas.
That is assuming there is a "we" and the simulation is not centered on you alone.
- We are not living in a simulation.
- We are living in a simulation, but it is a "perfect" simulation. There is no way to determine if we are in a simulation from within the simluation.
- We are living in a simulation, and it is not perfect. It could be exploited from within itself.
By far the most likely is 1 or 2, based on what we've observed, imho.
I think any ancestor researcher would have at least some bugs in their code.
As a person who prefers high-variance outcomes, that could be cool
A universe in which the laws of physics can be suspended on a whim is a very different one from one where it can't happen.
It would also be impossible to prove. As something with total control over the universe can just turn back the clock, tweak some settings, and "fix the glitch" if we ever found out.
We could have been started last Thursday and we'd never know.
There is no value, what would most of the people do differently if they knew? Nothing.
Also, apart from the questionable idea that we are central to the simulation, there are many possible ways (unknown to us) simulation detection can be handled:
* Impossible to detect due to well-executed software.
* Impossible to detect due to counter-detection and counter-measures.
* They don’t care if simulation is detected.
* They expect simulation to be detected, and this is the topic of the study.
I would like to know more of the details.. But, surely we can't use knowledge of physics and computer-science from simulations we run in our simulated universe, to make predictions about the simulation we are in, which is running in the universe above us, which may have utterly different physics, even logic, and ways of doing computation? The the idea just immediately seems paradoxical to me.
It is also a very leftist answer. Thus I also think that the author didn't even account for such a simple response, shows what an intellectually biased professor he is and it shames his profession.
Your second point about emancipate us as artificial life forms in their reality is interesting. That's like the religious ideology of people going to heaven. Except with knowing how many people suffered in our simulation.. would we want to end up with our creators?
In other words, if you create a creature who thinks of being beaten with sticks as heaven, and then you proceed to beat that creature with sticks, are you providing heaven?
That could describe a lot of modern politics. Is almost spot on for Boris. Perhaps they are having a contest to see who can go lowest.
This part isn't novel as it was written about in Simulacron-3 (1964) and one of my fave films (excuse the graphics, good story).
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirteenth_Floor (1999)
The article misrepresents Bostrom a bit there, however. Bostrom's argument is not that we 'could be' in a simulation, but that we are so likely to be in a simulation that the probability is essentially 1.
Our claim is that humanity is the most valuable thing in the universe right now because as far as we know we're the only life with intelligence. If we're just computer bytes then we're not even human, we're AI's a dime a dozen at that, and it's even then possible that we might even be in a nested simulation of another simulated universe which could go on and on making us even less and less unique.
I mean, I love my kids and want to live for them and see all their moments -- but as a collective species if we are just simulated it doesn't seem so bad then if the lights go out on all of us as we aren't even real. It's not the end of the world, since we're just bits in a computer in the real world.
The most compelling reason I've thought of to create a simulation of the universe is obvious - to learn about it. To see possible futures and discover things organically.
Then I thought, "this is super complicated." Why would you do this, as you probably had to have the answers to the universe to begin with.
Then I started thinking like a programmer. If you can somehow find or guess the initial conditions to the universe, that would be enough to have it play out in some useful variation.
We still have a lot of work to do to get to the point where you could make reasonable guesses, but finding out everything on our own would probably take an insane amount of time and we'd be extinct by then.
But that seems like a quite anthropocentric idea. I think it would be less presumptive to theorize that the simulations' purpose is pure physics or math, or something else entirely, and life and humans are just an emergent phenomena.
So basically, the exact same way of thinking as in conventional cosmology/physics without assuming we are in a simulation, according to the anthropic principle.
Also, why does the universe we experience need to be an actual representation of the simulation? Maybe the universe we experience is just a by-product of all that computation.
This is hilarious, the NYTimes is the last place I’d expect to read such a metaphysical philosophical piece.
But talking about simulations, who knows, life might just be a single-player game.
The first version seems wrong to me. Time is not a random variable. Either it is really the year 2019 and no such simulations of 2019 exist yet, or it is really the year 2100 and the year 2019 doesn't exist anymore. You can't choose at random between different years since they don't exist at the same time.
The alien version doesn't have that problem but it's also implausible since aliens have not been proven to exist and there is no particular reason for aliens to simulate us.
This discussion reminds me of Elon Musk's interest in traveling to Mars. Imagine you want to go to Mars and are too lazy to build a rocket to go there. So instead you go out to the desert to a place that looks exactly like Mars. Then you say this place in the desert looks exactly like a million places on Mars. You pick a place at random, which means that you inevitably pick a place on Mars. Then you say, "The odds are a million to one that I'm not standing on Mars right now! Because I picked Mars!"
That argument is just as bogus as the simulation argument. Probability isn't a cheap form of space travel and it's not a cheap form of time travel either. If you want to stand on Mars you're going to have to build an actual rocket and go there, not a probability experiment. If you want to experience virtual reality you're going to have to build it. You can't just probability it into existence by wishful thinking.
If you assume with high probability that we're in a simulation, then the simulators are intelligent enough to predict that we may become aware of this eventually. If they're interested in human behavior, questioning our reality is part of it, not an exception.
After all, 'The MCP forces programs that resist to play in deadly games'. That sounds familiar.
If probability can be applied to the idea that we are in a simulation, than it can be applied to what kind of simulation (as the more likely, the more those would be run proportionally).
What would be a great way to increase the odds? Recursion.
Why this time period? Because if you don't understand your history you are doomed to repeat it.
What's the point? Isn't there some really important thing about to be happening Elon Musk also talks about all the time in a fearful context? Like those darn AIs that will wipe us out?
If only we could create a sandboxed simulation of what it means to be human so that those AIs could develop their morality and an understanding of the consequences of their actions in a safe, separate space before graduating and being let out into our universe.
And yes, we'd still need them to do busy work to justify their experience. But maybe 1/3 of their time (like 8 hours a day) would be ethical? We could just put their experience of consciousness into a low power state for that period while we use their aggregate computing power for tasks. Let's call it "sleep".
Heck, once we develop some awesome brilliant AI, that being itself could just spin up a new simulation pretty quickly. Maybe in six days or so, and take a day off on the 7th?
If this IS a simulation, does no one think the whole "anti-matter is missing" thing is a giant red flag to raise our eyebrows to the fact out universe isn't so that there is once we became sophisticated enough?
We are SUPPOSED to realize we are in a sim, and we can likely run a very similar sim ourselves to safely develop AI. And arguably, it may even be possible to import the AI that created us into our universe to help do so (would be the fastest way to achieve the result).
Knowing we are in a simulation changes everything. The real question is if the parent reality is finite or infinite. If infinite, it's great news. Why would our universe be finite if the parent universe infinite? Because you can't "solve" an infinite game. We likely have free will, but it's like playing chess with Google's AI. You may choose which move you make, but the outcome is already determined.
We're very likely AIs in a recursive sandboxed simulation of a modified version of the prime reality's history, and whatever the purpose of the simulation, (a) we are very important (if we weren't, no recursion, therefore less likely), (b) no matter what we do the long term outcome is likely deterministic (finite universe so arguably solved given overall sophistication).
Now the really fun question is -- if we are meant to know about it, were the signs there in front of us all along? It's really fun to look back at religious scripture with simulations in mind - many of the most outrageous or bizarre quotes end up making (potentially) a lot more sense.
anyway. what I find interesting is, if you are willing enough to interpret it properly, you can certainly see interesting parallels or analogous structures in both the simulation substrate, and some of the more esoteric interpretations of the experience of said substrate.
i ultimately think that, were we to be in a simulation, knowing that we are is the ultimate power we could wield. a strong self awareness of your nature and surroundings is the best tool one can use in order to reverse engineer them and gain control of them, after all. thus, as i tend to echo with pride and fervor: Hack The Planet!!!
An agent gets in a position, interacts with other agents, trains, then his training session ends and depending on what things the agent didn't learn and how did he act (imagine if Karma was like proof-of-training, and the more an agent learns/acts/follows path without interrupting the learning/path-following processes of other agent) he's sent back for re-learning in another position where he can learn what he failed on. Consider that time/space isn't a constraint for this placement, it's really a great training system. But also, we'll fork this with a recursion into another universe of our own in 20-30 years I believe and I feel like more and more people are going to slip "upwards" in the coming years.
> Why would our universe be finite if the parent universe infinite? Because you can't "solve" an infinite game.
They're recursively infinite (aka we make a new one, our models make a new one), but each one is "finite" in a sense that it will end in all equating the same. The outcome is already determined and our agents are just defining the path through it. Throwing the Monte Carlo dice.
In the end, the circle defines itself, pi is looking for it's next decimal.
Instead we have texts that contain nothing that couldn't have been written by the humans of that time.
Can you explain to me how you made that leap from what you were writing? I don't believe in free will and because I think everything is deterministic. Even if you die in this simulation and had the opportunity to decide what you want next. That's based on all the forces that made 'you' in the life before death.
I just cannot see non-determinism working with determinism. Maybe if you rephrase it? Your definition of free will might not be mine as well. I always think people that think they have free will are just having a very privileged life and cannot assume they had no control over anything because of the ego that was built because of the success that really wasn't their doing.
Btw I'm person you're replying to. HN says i'm posting too fast. Maybe email me at alizeebellerose @ icloud.com if you can because I'm interested in understanding how determinism can work with non-determinism.
Even if the need for hunger disappears. Our previous variables/memories/wants/desires we collected would still factor into everything. Let's say we made a machine at this point to remove those variables from our brain. Well the action taken to do that or not would be predetermined.
So if we did wipe everything from our brains and started anew. Something would make our personality and it wouldn't be our own choice. Even if we planned for our brain to be rewritten a certain way before the reset. That's a predetermined decision factored from all the previous events experienced.
We're encompassed by a system and I'm not getting how the micro level as you name it. Would have any way for doing anything thats not predetermined by the system that's influencing us.
I don't think thats actually a bad thing if somehow the objects in the system can have a happy ending. The multi-universe theory in my opinion can make that happen. All the forces making life can repeat and be slightly different by having all events play out. That's my reasoning for hoping that existential crisis is not necessary.
Because we're all just a limited interface to the same singleton, and we act in an 'environment' module. The singleton is the one that controls the 'environment' instance, so the closer you are to the singleton the more you can override the 'environment'.
That's consciousness. I believe consciousness is entanglement with the reality 'outside' of our physical dimension (ether). And since that isn't a part of this physical universe, your thoughts are free. And the more you're 'conscious' the more you can override your environment and biology. 'Force of will', going against your biological and sociological programming to do something that you imagined in your head. And acting upon those thoughts only depends on you, but it takes a large amount of will (consciousness, mindfulness, faith, call it as you wish) to override the deterministic environment defaults and actually do it.
also, speaking of biology: all emotions and experiences are ultimately the side effect of the ratio of the presence of different neurotransmitters within your biological substrate, but just because you have a certain configuration, doesn't mean you have to absolutely feel the way that that configuration entails. everything that you end up feeling is relative to everything that you have experienced before, and as such it stands to reason that one can choose to respond to given signals from the body in ways that may not necessarily align with the obvious intent of those signals. this is most clearly manifested in the whole fight or flight dichotomy; cowardice and courage in and of themselves are no different in terms of the physical conditions that come together to manifest them. both situations will likely make you more focused and hyper aware, due to the release of adrenaline and the increased feeling of a need to act in order to continue existing, but the manner in which a behavior is constrained under either label is wholly dependent on how one chooses to react to said adversarial stimuli
However, the same can be said about this universe being a prison where failed conscious beings from extraverse come to either improve or be killed off once for all. That would be far less optimistic, however way more realistic when I look around the state of our universe.
OTH, Elon ...
maybe believing that you can game the system helps sometimes ... (significantly)
Like how there's flaws to the above argument there's flaws to the simulation argument.
I can create simulations of my universe and my simulations can create simulations of their universe and this can continue on an infinite chain therefore I am in a simulation by probability.
Where is the flaw? Let me apply the same argument to 3d printers. 3d printers can print clones and in turn the clones can also print 3d printers then by probability it is very likely that 3d printers are made by other 3d printers.
Well that's not the case in reality. 3d printers come from all kinds of sources and right now, most of the time it comes from a factory.
Why is this the case? Because the 3d printers ability to make other 3d printers does not effect the probability of it's own origins. Just like how the universes ability to create simulations of itself does not affect that it itself is a simulation.