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 The Simulacrum is Real?

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PostSubject: The Simulacrum is Real?   Wed 24 Feb 2010, 8:39 pm

I see now that we're supposed to believe that the Simulacrum is real. Even though Nature is real, and their system is phony bologna, they are attempting to turn reality on its head, for they can't control nature, but they CAN control a Simulacrum.... or a precession of models (ie simulations) as Baudrillard might say.

Let's start-off this thread with a MSNBC interview of William Irwin, the author of Philosophy and the Matrix (which is referenced in the Forum Library) and a piece in the NYTimes.

William Irwin on MSNBC



  • First the interviewer claims that there is a 20% Chance We're Living Inside a Computer Simulation, according to a study by London School of Economics trained, and current Oxford professor, Nick Bostrom (we'll refer to his work later in the thread).
  • Second, just prior to the 6-minute-mark you can listen to Irwin threaten those who do not believe in the Simulacrum.

Next, we have a NYTimes piece called "Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch", which provides a review of Nick Bostrom's work, who says "it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation." We'll discuss this in greater detail as the thread progresses and add additional work from Bostrom.

August 14, 2007
Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch
By JOHN TIERNEY

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html?_r=1

Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

But now it seems quite possible. In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

This simulation would be similar to the one in “The Matrix,” in which most humans don’t realize that their lives and their world are just illusions created in their brains while their bodies are suspended in vats of liquid. But in Dr. Bostrom’s notion of reality, you wouldn’t even have a body made of flesh. Your brain would exist only as a network of computer circuits.

You couldn’t, as in “The Matrix,” unplug your brain and escape from your vat to see the physical world. You couldn’t see through the illusion except by using the sort of logic employed by Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford.

Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.

Some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century, but it doesn’t matter for Dr. Bostrom’s argument whether it takes 50 years or 5 million years. If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to run lots of simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of virtual ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors.

There would be no way for any of these ancestors to know for sure whether they were virtual or real, because the sights and feelings they’d experience would be indistinguishable. But since there would be so many more virtual ancestors, any individual could figure that the odds made it nearly certain that he or she was living in a virtual world.

The math and the logic are inexorable once you assume that lots of simulations are being run. But there are a couple of alternative hypotheses, as Dr. Bostrom points out. One is that civilization never attains the technology to run simulations (perhaps because it self-destructs before reaching that stage). The other hypothesis is that posthumans decide not to run the simulations.

“This kind of posthuman might have other ways of having fun, like stimulating their pleasure centers directly,” Dr. Bostrom says. “Maybe they wouldn’t need to do simulations for scientific reasons because they’d have better methodologies for understanding their past. It’s quite possible they would have moral prohibitions against simulating people, although the fact that something is immoral doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

Dr. Bostrom doesn’t pretend to know which of these hypotheses is more likely, but he thinks none of them can be ruled out. “My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that,” he says, “is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”

My gut feeling is that the odds are better than 20 percent, maybe better than even. I think it’s highly likely that civilization could endure to produce those supercomputers. And if owners of the computers were anything like the millions of people immersed in virtual worlds like Second Life, SimCity and World of Warcraft, they’d be running simulations just to get a chance to control history — or maybe give themselves virtual roles as Cleopatra or Napoleon.

It’s unsettling to think of the world being run by a futuristic computer geek, although we might at last dispose of that of classic theological question: How could God allow so much evil in the world? For the same reason there are plagues and earthquakes and battles in games like World of Warcraft. Peace is boring, Dude.

A more practical question is how to behave in a computer simulation. Your first impulse might be to say nothing matters anymore because nothing’s real. But just because your neural circuits are made of silicon (or whatever posthumans would use in their computers) instead of carbon doesn’t mean your feelings are any less real.

David J. Chalmers, a philosopher at the Australian National University, says Dr. Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis isn’t a cause for skepticism, but simply a different metaphysical explanation of our world. Whatever you’re touching now — a sheet of paper, a keyboard, a coffee mug — is real to you even if it’s created on a computer circuit rather than fashioned out of wood, plastic or clay.

You still have the desire to live as long as you can in this virtual world — and in any simulated afterlife that the designer of this world might bestow on you. Maybe that means following traditional moral principles, if you think the posthuman designer shares those morals and would reward you for being a good person.

Or maybe, as suggested by Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, you should try to be as interesting as possible, on the theory that the designer is more likely to keep you around for the next simulation. (For more on survival strategies in a computer simulation, go to www.nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

Of course, it’s tough to guess what the designer would be like. He or she might have a body made of flesh or plastic, but the designer might also be a virtual being living inside the computer of a still more advanced form of intelligence. There could be layer upon layer of simulations until you finally reached the architect of the first simulation — the Prime Designer, let’s call him or her (or it).

Then again, maybe the Prime Designer wouldn’t allow any of his or her creations to start simulating their own worlds. Once they got smart enough to do so, they’d presumably realize, by Dr. Bostrom’s logic, that they themselves were probably simulations. Would that ruin the fun for the Prime Designer?

If simulations stop once the simulated inhabitants understand what’s going on, then I really shouldn’t be spreading Dr. Bostrom’s ideas. But if you’re still around to read this, I guess the Prime Designer is reasonably tolerant, or maybe curious to see how we react once we start figuring out the situation.

It’s also possible that there would be logistical problems in creating layer upon layer of simulations. There might not be enough computing power to continue the simulation if billions of inhabitants of a virtual world started creating their own virtual worlds with billions of inhabitants apiece.

If that’s true, it’s bad news for the futurists who think we’ll have a computer this century with the power to simulate all the inhabitants on earth. We’d start our simulation, expecting to observe a new virtual world, but instead our own world might end — not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a message on the Prime Designer’s computer.

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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Thu 25 Feb 2010, 12:19 am

"I see now that we're supposed to believe that the Simulacrum is real. Even though Nature is real, and their system is phony bologna, they are attempting to turn reality on its head, for they can't control nature, but they CAN control a Simulacrum.... or a precession of models (ie simulations) as Baudrillard might say."

Yes. Imo, they have decided to initiate an open attack upon our minds, our confidence in our senses, our entire grasp of reality. It is totally evil and I fear that many will be vulnerable. There has to be some way to counter these vicious, cruel plans--at least, I HOPE there is.Problem is, how do you give people a crash course in such virtues as awareness, rational skepticism, logical thinking? I don't know, it's not something one can achieve without having invested previously a great deal of effort, over a protracted period of time.

So it would seem the prognosis is, the times ahead threaten to be VERY dangerous for *many*, and I frankly don't see any way to address this problem.
Very scary.  [edit: Comments=appreciated.]
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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Mon 01 Mar 2010, 3:32 pm

C1 wrote:
I see now that we're supposed to believe that the Simulacrum is real. Even though Nature is real, and their system is phony bologna, they are attempting to turn reality on its head, for they can't control nature, but they CAN control a Simulacrum.... or a precession of models (ie simulations) as Baudrillard might say.

Let's start-off this thread with a MSNBC interview of William Irwin, the author of Philosophy and the Matrix (which is referenced in the Forum Library) and a piece in the NYTimes.

William Irwin on MSNBC



  • First the interviewer claims that there is a 20% Chance We're Living Inside a Computer Simulation, according to a study by London School of Economics trained, and current Oxford professor, Nick Bostrom (we'll refer to his work later in the thread).
  • Second, just prior to the 6-minute-mark you can listen to Irwin threaten those who do not believe in the Simulacrum.


Next, we have a NYTimes piece called "Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch", which provides a review of Nick Bostrom's work, who says "it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation." We'll discuss this in greater detail as the thread progresses and add additional work from Bostrom.

August 14, 2007
Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch
By JOHN TIERNEY

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/14/science/14tier.html?_r=1

Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

But now it seems quite possible. In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

This simulation would be similar to the one in “The Matrix,” in which most humans don’t realize that their lives and their world are just illusions created in their brains while their bodies are suspended in vats of liquid. But in Dr. Bostrom’s notion of reality, you wouldn’t even have a body made of flesh. Your brain would exist only as a network of computer circuits.

You couldn’t, as in “The Matrix,” unplug your brain and escape from your vat to see the physical world. You couldn’t see through the illusion except by using the sort of logic employed by Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford.

Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.

Some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century, but it doesn’t matter for Dr. Bostrom’s argument whether it takes 50 years or 5 million years. If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to run lots of simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of virtual ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors.

There would be no way for any of these ancestors to know for sure whether they were virtual or real, because the sights and feelings they’d experience would be indistinguishable. But since there would be so many more virtual ancestors, any individual could figure that the odds made it nearly certain that he or she was living in a virtual world.

The math and the logic are inexorable once you assume that lots of simulations are being run. But there are a couple of alternative hypotheses, as Dr. Bostrom points out. One is that civilization never attains the technology to run simulations (perhaps because it self-destructs before reaching that stage). The other hypothesis is that posthumans decide not to run the simulations.

“This kind of posthuman might have other ways of having fun, like stimulating their pleasure centers directly,” Dr. Bostrom says. “Maybe they wouldn’t need to do simulations for scientific reasons because they’d have better methodologies for understanding their past. It’s quite possible they would have moral prohibitions against simulating people, although the fact that something is immoral doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

Dr. Bostrom doesn’t pretend to know which of these hypotheses is more likely, but he thinks none of them can be ruled out. “My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that,” he says, “is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”

My gut feeling is that the odds are better than 20 percent, maybe better than even. I think it’s highly likely that civilization could endure to produce those supercomputers. And if owners of the computers were anything like the millions of people immersed in virtual worlds like Second Life, SimCity and World of Warcraft, they’d be running simulations just to get a chance to control history — or maybe give themselves virtual roles as Cleopatra or Napoleon.

It’s unsettling to think of the world being run by a futuristic computer geek, although we might at last dispose of that of classic theological question: How could God allow so much evil in the world? For the same reason there are plagues and earthquakes and battles in games like World of Warcraft. Peace is boring, Dude.

A more practical question is how to behave in a computer simulation. Your first impulse might be to say nothing matters anymore because nothing’s real. But just because your neural circuits are made of silicon (or whatever posthumans would use in their computers) instead of carbon doesn’t mean your feelings are any less real.

David J. Chalmers, a philosopher at the Australian National University, says Dr. Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis isn’t a cause for skepticism, but simply a different metaphysical explanation of our world. Whatever you’re touching now — a sheet of paper, a keyboard, a coffee mug — is real to you even if it’s created on a computer circuit rather than fashioned out of wood, plastic or clay.

You still have the desire to live as long as you can in this virtual world — and in any simulated afterlife that the designer of this world might bestow on you. Maybe that means following traditional moral principles, if you think the posthuman designer shares those morals and would reward you for being a good person.

Or maybe, as suggested by Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, you should try to be as interesting as possible, on the theory that the designer is more likely to keep you around for the next simulation. (For more on survival strategies in a computer simulation, go to www.nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

Of course, it’s tough to guess what the designer would be like. He or she might have a body made of flesh or plastic, but the designer might also be a virtual being living inside the computer of a still more advanced form of intelligence. There could be layer upon layer of simulations until you finally reached the architect of the first simulation — the Prime Designer, let’s call him or her (or it).

Then again, maybe the Prime Designer wouldn’t allow any of his or her creations to start simulating their own worlds. Once they got smart enough to do so, they’d presumably realize, by Dr. Bostrom’s logic, that they themselves were probably simulations. Would that ruin the fun for the Prime Designer?

If simulations stop once the simulated inhabitants understand what’s going on, then I really shouldn’t be spreading Dr. Bostrom’s ideas. But if you’re still around to read this, I guess the Prime Designer is reasonably tolerant, or maybe curious to see how we react once we start figuring out the situation.

It’s also possible that there would be logistical problems in creating layer upon layer of simulations. There might not be enough computing power to continue the simulation if billions of inhabitants of a virtual world started creating their own virtual worlds with billions of inhabitants apiece.

If that’s true, it’s bad news for the futurists who think we’ll have a computer this century with the power to simulate all the inhabitants on earth. We’d start our simulation, expecting to observe a new virtual world, but instead our own world might end — not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a message on the Prime Designer’s computer.

I think the above video, with related material, would be a great illustrative addition to the thread on RPF re "Basic Lies,...Truths" (title?) and it could be titled something like:
How the Philosophers* Plan to Attack your Belief in Your Sanity, Reality & Everything Else, or something like that.
There's gotta be something that will Bring This Home to people, that they are in danger at a very basic level, that a full-scale attack seems to be in the works, attacking their very sanity, via "the best authorities" (philosophers), who are in reality a really sickening bunch of sell-outs!!

I think this might reach/affect a few people; what do you think?
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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Mon 01 Mar 2010, 7:06 pm

Explorer wrote:
I think the above video, with related material, would be a great illustrative addition to the thread on RPF re "Basic Lies,...Truths" (title?) and it could be titled something like:
How the Philosophers* Plan to Attack your Belief in Your Sanity, Reality & Everything Else, or something like that.
There's gotta be something that will Bring This Home to people, that they are in danger at a very basic level, that a full-scale attack seems to be in the works, attacking their very sanity, via "the best authorities" (philosophers), who are in reality a really sickening bunch of sell-outs!!

I think this might reach/affect a few people; what do you think?
Go for it. I think anything is worth a try right now. Although, maybe a new thread is worthwhile.

By the way, this has been occurring our entire lives. So, perhaps a thread title like How your Belief in your Sanity, Reality & Everything Else is Attacked.

I posted in the Screwtape thread the audio from Letter 1. You need to listen to that. Listen closely, more than halfway through, when they discuss "reality" and then start to roar with laughter. It's brilliant for those who understand what they are hearing.

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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Tue 02 Mar 2010, 10:48 am

C1 wrote:
Explorer wrote:
I think the above video, with related material, would be a great illustrative addition to the thread on RPF re "Basic Lies,...Truths" (title?) and it could be titled something like:
How the Philosophers* Plan to Attack your Belief in Your Sanity, Reality & Everything Else, or something like that.
There's gotta be something that will Bring This Home to people, that they are in danger at a very basic level, that a full-scale attack seems to be in the works, attacking their very sanity, via "the best authorities" (philosophers), who are in reality a really sickening bunch of sell-outs!!

I think this might reach/affect a few people; what do you think?
Go for it. I think anything is worth a try right now. Although, maybe a new thread is worthwhile.

By the way, this has been occurring our entire lives. So, perhaps a thread title like How your Belief in your Sanity, Reality & Everything Else is Attacked.

I posted in the Screwtape thread the audio from Letter 1. You need to listen to that. Listen closely, more than halfway through, when they discuss "reality" and then start to roar with laughter. It's brilliant for those who understand what they are hearing.

Just posted to RPF. Looks pretty good I think.

Yea, good stuff :-) Screwtape was GREAT, as was C.S. Lewis. He really was brilliant. Did you know he was an atheist until about his '30s, I think...and he struggled mightily with the issue of God--wow! A wonderful book of his is "That Hideous Strength", which nobody seems to mention much.
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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Tue 02 Mar 2010, 2:33 pm

I just got done reading Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce. I am about to start Screwtape Letters. I just bought all 3 in paperback. Very good books IMO.I am new to CS Lewis with help from this forum however I knew about The Chronicles and the other book that was made into a movie.
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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Tue 02 Mar 2010, 11:04 pm

Explorer wrote:
Did you know he was an atheist until about his '30s, I think...and he struggled mightily with the issue of God--wow! A wonderful book of his is "That Hideous Strength", which nobody seems to mention much.
I did not know he was an atheist until 30. Do you know what it was that turned him?

Perhaps it would be good to start a CS Lewis thread in the Library subforum, as I would be interested in knowing more about him and "That Hideous Strength", which I have not read.

Silent Wind wrote:
I just got done reading Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce. I am about to start Screwtape Letters. I just bought all 3 in paperback. Very good books IMO.I am new to CS Lewis with help from this forum however I knew about The Chronicles and the other book that was made into a movie.

Ditto on knowing more about him. I'd really appreciate any insights you have on "Mere Christianity" and "The Great Divorce"

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PostSubject: Re: The Simulacrum is Real?   Wed 03 Mar 2010, 12:46 pm

Explorer wrote:
Did you know he was an atheist until about his '30s, I think...and he struggled mightily with the issue of God--wow! A wonderful book of his is "That Hideous Strength", which nobody seems to mention much.
C1 wrote:
I did not know he was an atheist until 30. Do you know what it was that turned him?
He was on a lifelong quest for understanding and meaning in his life--what he called "joy";
He had difficulty finding it and was very unhappy in his early life, in major respects, but he "held on"..
I think his book "Surprised by Joy" really goes into his search for meaning and his inner thoughts.

Quote :
Perhaps it would be good to start a CS Lewis thread in the Library subforum, as I would be interested in knowing more about him and "That Hideous Strength", which I have not read.
Very nice idea. I will post some material for him, soon as I find some that is worthy.
I think you will like "That Hideous Strength" very much...it's pretty much got *everything* ...that's important,that is... Smile
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