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Thought experiment: imagine the universe is a simulation!
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist and Faith wrote:
Again, I don't see what the HP of matter is.
But you're the one who linked the article that brought it to my attention! Confused If there is structure, our intuition tells us that there must be something that is structured. Matter must be more than mathematical structure, otherwise there is no difference between a simulation and reality. That's the HP of Matter. You put your money on strings, but strings of what? Matter can be one dimensional? String theory is a purely mathematical theory. It still doesn't talk about the 'stuff.' And we probably never will be able to talk about that, in principle. That's a deep problem! Why should it always be beyond our objective descriptions? This should tell us something . . .

Fist and Faith wrote:
You have no facts on which to base what I highlighted. It's speculation.
It's not pure speculation. It starts with the physical fact of our brain and follows the logic of: what if our brain is actually a simulation? Wouldn't that make some kind of difference? If consciousness is produced by the brain, but we're actually in a simulation so that there is no physical reality to the brain, then this production of consciousness from the brain is achieved through software, not hardware. In other words, it's achieved in a different way than we've always assumed (i.e. reductive materialism).

If there is no difference between a simulated brain producing consciousness vs a physical brain producing consciousness, then your house example (below) makes no sense.

Quote:
In which case you would be able to program a simulation of your dream house, and move into it. But you can't. Because there is a difference between simulated matter and real matter.
No, in this case the inability of me to move into the simulated house would be an issue of reference frames--just as people moving at vastly different speeds relative to the speed of light are in two different references frames and can't enter each other's frame. Time is moving differently in their individual frames; precluding any interaction, even though they're in the same universe. If matter is pure structure, you could say that I have the wrong kind (size?) of structure necessary to enter the simulation, "physically." We are structurally at two different levels. Size would still matter, since it's a structure. Place would still matter, which is a structure. The simulated house would be like a house inside a black hole. My "body" can't go there without being radically reorganized (most likely: destroyed).

Of course, there's no reason why my mind couldn't enter the simulated house. We already do that all the time.

Quote:
However, that's not what I was talking about. I was talking about the difference between the brain and the computer. Both built from the same things (whether strings or something else), they are very different hunks of matter. I'm saying, if the matter from which a consciousness emerges plays a role in the nature of that consciousness, then consciousnesses emerging from these two very different hunks of matter would be very different.
Yes, I agree. However, you're looking from the outside-in. This thought experiment asks us to look from the inside-out. We start with our consciousness. It's produced by our brains, i.e. matter. But if we're in a simulation, this consciousness is produced by matter that is actually a simulation--pure information. Now sure, that information is being processed by a physical computer. True! But the intermediate organization (i.e. the simulation of matter) makes a difference. Consciousness isn't being simulated. Matter is. And that "matter" just so happens to produce consciousness. We know this in the same way that we know our brain produces our consciousness: damage the brain, alter the consciousness. But damaging simulated matter doesn't damage the hardware of the computer running that simulation. So why should that damage make a difference, if the consciousness is dependent upon the (undamaged) hardware? Well, the damage matters because we've "scrambled the code" simulating our brain. But that only shows that the production of the consciousness was dependent upon those structures, not the physical hardware running the code.

Quote:
Zarathustra wrote:
And if you can produce consciousness in a medium that has had its substance removed, by modeling only the structures of matter, then you have proven that substance itself isn't a necessry ingredient to make something REAL (rather than merely a simulation).
The substance has not been removed from the medium in your scenario. The medium is still running on - created by and entirely dependent on - the hardware of the computer. You can only prove that substance itself isn't a necessary ingredient to make consciousness if you find a consciousness that came into being with no substance.
So producing consciousness from simulated matter makes no difference whatsoever?

Look, in the consciousness thread, we've already come to agreement that mind can't be reduced to matter. On the "top" end, it is doing something that isn't physical. So it's already a problem how matter produced something that isn't physical--this already invites us to speculate that matter itself isn't physical in the way we've previously thought. You honestly don't think it strengthens that point to remove matter an additional degree of separation on "the bottom" end? I understand what you're saying--there's still hardware (of some kind). But in terms of the production of consciousness, that hardware is only relevant in as much as the connection between hardware and software, i.e. the relation of pure information to matter. That relation is itself a problem! In fact, it's similar to the problem of how matter produces something that isn't physical (HP of mind) as well as the problem of connection between abstract form and substance (HP of matter).

Thus, your insistence that matter is still involved is only a restatement of the original problem--despite the fact that it has been circumvented, to a degree. If consciousness can be built out of abstract forms/information that is mimicking matter, without being matter, then what content does this word "matter" retain? What is its reality, if its simulation can still produce the most amazing phenomenon we know? It would be like simulating water in such detail, that it's actually wet!

Quote:
Like I say, it's all speculation. Whether or not I'm clearly expressing what's in my head, I'm not sure. But I think I have a case.
Honestly, I think you have a case, too. I know what you're saying, and I struggle to rebut it. I'm still not sure that I have. Like you, I feel that I have a case. Fundamentally, you're saying there is no difference between simulated consciousness and real consciousness, because they're both dependent upon matter-and-meaning. Likewise, I'm saying there is no difference between sim consciousness and real consciousness, too, but then concluding that they're both pure meaning. I'm struggling to sort these out. How can both positions claim the same thing and have different implications? I'm tempted to "reduce" yours to mine and say that this is resolved by claiming that your matter = my meaning. But I worry that the balls I have in the air are still, at some point, thrust by physical hands.

If I make the claim that the physical substrate producing consciousness doesn't matter--only the patterns of organization--why wouldn't it be a sufficient test of this idea to simulate the substrate with patterns of information? I can see where this might set up an infinite regression. You insist upon the physical reality of the hardware, but then I claim I can simulate this, too! And then run my simulated matter experiment on a simulated computer! And yet you insist that this nested simulation still runs on a physical computer. But . . . ! To infinity. Does this infinity imply that "physical" can never be removed from the situation? Or does each reiteration of turning the alleged "physical" into a simulation only strengthen the case that there was never anything but pure information there to begin with? I suspect the latter. Matter would be infinitely subject to simulation; there would never be a level that couldn't be reduced to pure information. To me, this feels like a Godel-type proof that steps outside of the system to point out an incompleteness of the system: no physical system could ever prove that it is physical. Or, as I said at the beginning of this post: we can never describe that "substance" beyond its structure.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
Again, I don't see what the HP of matter is.
But you're the one who linked the article that brought it to my attention! Confused
Laughing I hadn't read it when I posted the link. I assumed it would have some interesting things to say about all of this wacky consciousness stuff. Considering the title, and all.

Zarathustra wrote:
If there is structure, our intuition tells us that there must be something that is structured. Matter must be more than mathematical structure, otherwise there is no difference between a simulation and reality. That's the HP of Matter. You put your money on strings, but strings of what? Matter can be one dimensional? String theory is a purely mathematical theory. It still doesn't talk about the 'stuff.' And we probably never will be able to talk about that, in principle. That's a deep problem! Why should it always be beyond our objective descriptions? This should tell us something . . .
The problem with the simulation theory has been stated repeatedly. If we are a simulation, then the next universe up is the "real" one. Or the one above that. Or the next... Eventually, you need to find the "real stuff" that made the simulation, that made the simulation, that made the simulation, that made the simulation that is our reality. Do you suspect the answer is any easier to find in the Prime Universe?

It could be our universe is "real". Is it strings? I couldn't guess. I don't have the tiniest itty bitty real knowledge of it. I don't even know what fields of math are involved, much less have any understanding of them. But what I know of it all sounds reasonable, and elegant. The Calabi-Yau manifold; the extra spatial dimensions; strings able to vibrate in any of those dimensions, and combinations of them, to become different primary particles; etc.

I know there's absolutely zero empirical evidence to support it. But it's not like there's a microscope that could see the ultimate building block of the universe, no matter what it is.

Ultimately, I'm not concerned with the answer. I'm just saying ultimate building block of the universe need not have any properties that we would call "physical" in order to make what we consider the physical universe. The forces/charges do what they do, and we have what we have.

Zarathustra wrote:
Fist and Faith wrote:
You have no facts on which to base what I highlighted. It's speculation.
It's not pure speculation. It starts with the physical fact of our brain and follows the logic of: what if our brain is actually a simulation? Wouldn't that make some kind of difference? If consciousness is produced by the brain, but we're actually in a simulation so that there is no physical reality to the brain, then this production of consciousness from the brain is achieved through software, not hardware. In other words, it's achieved in a different way than we've always assumed (i.e. reductive materialism).

If there is no difference between a simulated brain producing consciousness vs a physical brain producing consciousness, then your house example (below) makes no sense.
But my house example does make sense. We can't simulate a real house. (What was that bad scifi show where they put enough power into a holographic guy, and he became physical? Laughing) And we can't simulate a brain that produces real consciousness.

Zarathustra wrote:
Quote:
In which case you would be able to program a simulation of your dream house, and move into it. But you can't. Because there is a difference between simulated matter and real matter.
No, in this case the inability of me to move into the simulated house would be an issue of reference frames--just as people moving at vastly different speeds relative to the speed of light are in two different references frames and can't enter each other's frame. Time is moving differently in their individual frames; precluding any interaction, even though they're in the same universe. If matter is pure structure, you could say that I have the wrong kind (size?) of structure necessary to enter the simulation, "physically." We are structurally at two different levels. Size would still matter, since it's a structure. Place would still matter, which is a structure. The simulated house would be like a house inside a black hole. My "body" can't go there without being radically reorganized (most likely: destroyed).

Of course, there's no reason why my mind couldn't enter the simulated house. We already do that all the time.
It seems to me that you want it both ways. We're a simulation; we can make a simulation; the simulation we make can produce consciousness that is as real as ours. Because it's all the same thing.

But... We're different kinds of the same thing. That means different things.

I'm saying we're different things right from the get-go. If your mind could exist free of all material, you could enter that simulated house. But it can't. You can only think about being in a simulated house. You can have the most perfectly amazing VR stuff, and not be able to tell the difference between being in a real house and a VR house. But if your simulated self gets shot with a simulated gun, you're fine. OTOH, if someone shoots your real body, you're dead.

Zarathustra wrote:
Quote:
However, that's not what I was talking about. I was talking about the difference between the brain and the computer. Both built from the same things (whether strings or something else), they are very different hunks of matter. I'm saying, if the matter from which a consciousness emerges plays a role in the nature of that consciousness, then consciousnesses emerging from these two very different hunks of matter would be very different.
Yes, I agree. However, you're looking from the outside-in. This thought experiment asks us to look from the inside-out. We start with our consciousness. It's produced by our brains, i.e. matter. But if we're in a simulation, this consciousness is produced by matter that is actually a simulation--pure information. Now sure, that information is being processed by a physical computer. True! But the intermediate organization (i.e. the simulation of matter) makes a difference. Consciousness isn't being simulated. Matter is. And that "matter" just so happens to produce consciousness. We know this in the same way that we know our brain produces our consciousness: damage the brain, alter the consciousness. But damaging simulated matter doesn't damage the hardware of the computer running that simulation. So why should that damage make a difference, if the consciousness is dependent upon the (undamaged) hardware? Well, the damage matters because we've "scrambled the code" simulating our brain. But that only shows that the production of the consciousness was dependent upon those structures, not the physical hardware running the code.
I'm not sure I'm understanding. I'm going to say what I think you're saying. Which looks like, more or less, simply repeating what you said. But I want to make sure.
1 We are a simulation
2 Our simulated brain produces consciousness
3 The simulated brain can be damaged
4 A damaged brain means an altered consciousness
5 Since the matter that is creating the simulation is not damaged when the simulated brain is damaged, but consciousness is altered, we know that consciousness is not produced by the matter, but by the structures

Is that what you're saying? Because, if it is, then I need to point out that this thought experiment is not proof of that chain of thoughts. You can't - or at least really shouldn't - expect me to explain how that can be the case. Because I don't think it is the case.


Zarathustra wrote:
Quote:
Zarathustra wrote:
And if you can produce consciousness in a medium that has had its substance removed, by modeling only the structures of matter, then you have proven that substance itself isn't a necessry ingredient to make something REAL (rather than merely a simulation).
The substance has not been removed from the medium in your scenario. The medium is still running on - created by and entirely dependent on - the hardware of the computer. You can only prove that substance itself isn't a necessary ingredient to make consciousness if you find a consciousness that came into being with no substance.
So producing consciousness from simulated matter makes no difference whatsoever?
If we ever accomplish that, it will certainly make a difference!

Zarathustra wrote:
Look, in the consciousness thread, we've already come to agreement that mind can't be reduced to matter. On the "top" end, it is doing something that isn't physical. So it's already a problem how matter produced something that isn't physical--this already invites us to speculate that matter itself isn't physical in the way we've previously thought.
Absolutely! And, not being physical in the way we've previously thought certainly opens to door to being able to do things we think of as not physical. Still no earthly idea how, but the possibilities are not even imaginable!

Zarathustra wrote:
You honestly don't think it strengthens that point to remove matter an additional degree of separation on "the bottom" end? I understand what you're saying--there's still hardware (of some kind). But in terms of the production of consciousness, that hardware is only relevant in as much as the connection between hardware and software, i.e. the relation of pure information to matter. That relation is itself a problem! In fact, it's similar to the problem of how matter produces something that isn't physical (HP of mind) as well as the problem of connection between abstract form and substance (HP of matter).

Thus, your insistence that matter is still involved is only a restatement of the original problem--despite the fact that it has been circumvented, to a degree. If consciousness can be built out of abstract forms/information that is mimicking matter, without being matter, then what content does this word "matter" retain? What is its reality, if its simulation can still produce the most amazing phenomenon we know? It would be like simulating water in such detail, that it's actually wet!
You keep saying things like this, as though you are stating fact. Again, that's only if this thought experiment is correct. If it's not, then the ways matter is what we think of as physical - ways which are verifiable and consistent - are entirely relevant in terms of the production of consciousness.



Zarathustra wrote:
Quote:
Like I say, it's all speculation. Whether or not I'm clearly expressing what's in my head, I'm not sure. But I think I have a case.
Honestly, I think you have a case, too. I know what you're saying, and I struggle to rebut it. I'm still not sure that I have. Like you, I feel that I have a case. Fundamentally, you're saying there is no difference between simulated consciousness and real consciousness, because they're both dependent upon matter-and-meaning.
That would be my position, if there was such a thing as simulated consciousness. But I have no reason to believe there is.

Zarathustra wrote:
Likewise, I'm saying there is no difference between sim consciousness and real consciousness, too, but then concluding that they're both pure meaning. I'm struggling to sort these out. How can both positions claim the same thing and have different implications? I'm tempted to "reduce" yours to mine and say that this is resolved by claiming that your matter = my meaning. But I worry that the balls I have in the air are still, at some point, thrust by physical hands.
Nicely said. Cool

Zarathustra wrote:
If I make the claim that the physical substrate producing consciousness doesn't matter--only the patterns of organization--why wouldn't it be a sufficient test of this idea to simulate the substrate with patterns of information? I can see where this might set up an infinite regression. You insist upon the physical reality of the hardware, but then I claim I can simulate this, too! And then run my simulated matter experiment on a simulated computer! And yet you insist that this nested simulation still runs on a physical computer. But . . . ! To infinity. Does this infinity imply that "physical" can never be removed from the situation? Or does each reiteration of turning the alleged "physical" into a simulation only strengthen the case that there was never anything but pure information there to begin with? I suspect the latter. Matter would be infinitely subject to simulation; there would never be a level that couldn't be reduced to pure information. To me, this feels like a Godel-type proof that steps outside of the system to point out an incompleteness of the system: no physical system could ever prove that it is physical. Or, as I said at the beginning of this post: we can never describe that "substance" beyond its structure.
I think you're right that no physical system could ever prove that it is physical.


Truly, I don't know if I've misinterpreted your position. You've repeatedly said this is just a thought experiment. But then you seem to be accepting it as fact, and not understanding how I can think this and that in light of that fact. I think the approach should be "If we are a simulation, then..." If the "then" is, indeed, the case, and can't be explained any other way, we see where it leads. Einstein had some pretty bizarre thought experiments. Turned out to be testable and verifiable. Then we built on the newly revealed truths.

Also, that we now know and accept as fact something as counter-intuitive as the idea that time passes differently for us if you're sitting and I'm walking shows that we can accept bizarre ideas. So the simulation could be accepted, if it can be verified.

If you're not accepting it as fact, you are able to go along with the experiment much better than I am. If X, then Y? Yes, but I don't agree with X. I don't know that there's any way I would, other than by a consciousness emerging from one of our simulations.

I have hope that this medium can produce consciousness. I don't see reason to think the biological hardware we're aware of is the only medium that can manage it. I could be wrong. Maybe our biology is the only configuration of matter with the flexibility, or whatever, to pull it off.

But the computer realm is veeeery fast. It has what seems to be an accelerated passage of time. Could be rocks and dirt can produce consciousness, if enough of it is arranged just so. But plate tectonics and erosion take SOOO damned long. Laughing Otoh, at a bajillion operations per second, the digital world can race through any number of configurations.

I really think the approach is NOT to simulate anything. WF said it extremely well:
wayfriend wrote:
All a simulation is is numbers which change over time by running functions. There is no "internal world" in which things happen, not in any sense at all. None.

Everything that makes you think there is an internal world is a byproduct of visualization techniques. Numbers become rendered as pictures of walls and doors. This only happens when we ask for it, and the sensation of reality exists ONLY within the observer, because we've created a convincing visualization.

When you don't arrange for an external visualization, it's just numbers becoming other numbers. Its just bowls of marbles, where you add, remove, and move marbles from one bowl to another based on rules you choose. Sure, it's a lot of bowls. But moving marbles never creates a dragon.
From the pov of the computer realm, there is nothing happening. It's just us interpreting the electrical activity in a certain way, because we are the ones who made the electrical activity behave in that certain way in the first place. No part of the hardware or software sees it the way we do; or sees anything in any other way.

If it's going to happen, we need to let it happen on its own terms. The properties of the hardware and all the possible activity that can take place should be what a hopefully-emerging consciousness has to work with. If we are going to meddle at all, we should try to do things that are entirely in keeping with the digital world. We shouldn't try to put our perspective into it. Why try to use structures of our physical world to make a computer produce consciousness? The structures of the digital world are what would be important to the digital world.


Sadly, this has grown so big that I can't tell how much sense I'm making at this point! If I continue to proofread and edit, I'll never manage to post it.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist, yes, I'm saying, "If X, then Y." You don't have to believe X. I don't either. I'm more interested in Y. However, if scientists found what they needed in the cosmic radiation to show that our apparently "continuous space" is an illusion, this wouldn't convince you of X? Even if it convinced the scientists?

BTW, you should read your linked article!! It's amazing.

And now let me skip ahead to the following, because I feel it is the heart of the debate:

Quote:
The substance has not been removed from the medium in your scenario. The medium is still running on - created by and entirely dependent on - the hardware of the computer. You can only prove that substance itself isn't a necessary ingredient to make consciousness if you find a consciousness that came into being with no substance.
You keep repeating this (granted, I'm repeating, too), and I feel it's your strongest point because I'm having trouble making it go away, but I also feel that it's just obviously false.

Let me rephrase: if I model water in a simulation, and I capture every quality of water, there is still a very real sense in which it's not water. It's not wet. It doesn't short-circuit the computer. So isn't this the same as saying that I have--to some extent--removed the matter from that scenario? I have the form of water, but not its substance. And this "to some extent" is far from insignificant; it's the very distinction that allows us to assume that matter must be more than mere mathematical relations. If numerical form can never be found in the complete absence of a connection to matter--not even in our thoughts, which "run" on our brain--then how can we ever draw a distinction between reality and simulation in the first place? Your insistence that matter is always involved is either a) a connection that makes simulations real, or b) a connection that is merely tangential and can be dismissed or "bracketed" when considering the form of the simulation.

Why would this inevitable connection be significant when talking about a simulated consciousness, but not for simulated water? That's the point, the heart of our disagreement.

(Feel free to ignore the rest of my post. It's just details.)

Quote:
The problem with the simulation theory has been stated repeatedly. If we are a simulation, then the next universe up is the "real" one. Or the one above that. Or the next... Eventually, you need to find the "real stuff" that made the simulation, that made the simulation, that made the simulation, that made the simulation that is our reality. Do you suspect the answer is any easier to find in the Prime Universe?
Well, this is a potential problem for figuring out Y, but it's actually an argument for X. I'm not sure why we'd ever have to find the "real stuff" that made the simulation. Do we insist that we must eventually find the "real stuff" at the heart of matter? Why would we be fine accepting an infinite regress--or a practical limit--in the latter but not the former?

Quote:
I'm just saying ultimate building block of the universe need not have any properties that we would call "physical" in order to make what we consider the physical universe. The forces/charges do what they do, and we have what we have.
Well, that's Y! In other words: a possible solution to the HP of matter, i.e. that "physical" is nothing more than mathematical relations. But that doesn't mean you couldn't maintain a difference between "mere simulation" and "real" in this case. You could still run simulations within a simulated universe, and those sims would be "mere numbers." "Real" would have to be redefined to mean, "numerical relations that define a space where consciousness can form." Just like matter is merely "dead matter" when it's not forming an organism, simulated worlds are "dead worlds" (i.e. "not real") when they don't form consciousness. Consciousness would be the key to delineating simulation from reality. Any reality that is sufficiently complex to create sentient beings would be real, regardless of how it's produced.

Honestly, I don't see how this would be any more radical than thinking the universe is real despite God creating it from nothing using God-magic (allegedly). Why are so many people willing to accept "created universe = real" in one case, and not the other? [No, I'm not admitting that this theory is the same as theological creationism. I'm just saying that if you're going to pick one over the other as being "real," why go with the one that requires magic over the one that merely requires technology? We know tech is real; magic is not.]

Quote:
We can't simulate a real house.
Yes we can! We do it all the time. Do you mean that we can't make a real house out of a simulation? I agree . . . except if that house exists within a simulation wherein conscious beings form.

Quote:
We're different kinds of the same thing. That means different things.
I am proposing as an axiom that consciousness = consciousness. It doesn't matter how it's produced, it's the same thing in all possible worlds (in as much as it has certain structural features that are necessary for any conscious experience whatsoever).

Quote:
I'm saying we're different things right from the get-go. If your mind could exist free of all material, you could enter that simulated house. But it can't.
I don't get this. Our minds enter simulated worlds all the time. I do, however, acknowledge that if I get shot in a simulation, my body is fine. But you're talking about a mind that is straddling two different levels. For a being inside the simulation, if it gets shot, its existence ends. Is this not death?

Quote:
WF said it extremely well:
wayfriend wrote:
All a simulation is is numbers which change over time by running functions. There is no "internal world" in which things happen, not in any sense at all. None.

Everything that makes you think there is an internal world is a byproduct of visualization techniques. Numbers become rendered as pictures of walls and doors. This only happens when we ask for it, and the sensation of reality exists ONLY within the observer, because we've created a convincing visualization.

When you don't arrange for an external visualization, it's just numbers becoming other numbers. Its just bowls of marbles, where you add, remove, and move marbles from one bowl to another based on rules you choose. Sure, it's a lot of bowls. But moving marbles never creates a dragon.
From the pov of the computer realm, there is nothing happening. It's just us interpreting the electrical activity in a certain way, because we are the ones who made the electrical activity behave in that certain way in the first place. No part of the hardware or software sees it the way we do; or sees anything in any other way.

But, as I said, this is the point! Reality seems to behave this way, too. Reality is "numbers becoming other numbers," until someone actually looks at it, and then we have this amazing "simulation" of an external world . . . that is actually in our heads! (Visualization techniques.) We never contact that "external" reality. In fact, the most accurate things we have to say about it are purely numerical relations. Numbers becoming other numbers. And prior to looking at it, it's not even definite particles/objects, it's merely potentials.

We're saying the same thing, except WF's "internal" would be our "external," the same world viewed from either side.
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
If numerical form can never be found in the complete absence of a connection to matter
Sorry, I just don't know what you're saying.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was restating your point. You think that I have not removed matter in my thought experiment because the computer program would still be running on a physical computer. Therefore, if I can not remove matter from our consideration even when talking about a simulation, then what is the basis of the distinction between reality and simulation?

I guess the problem is that you have not read the article. I wasn't aware of that until recently. Your article points out that the reason that we assume matter is more than its mathematically describable relations, is because if it were not, then there would be no difference between reality and simulation (the latter which is merely mathematically describable relations).
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read it since I posted it, just not before. I only make I didn't post it because of the HP of Matter issues, because I didn't know it had anything to do with that at the time I posted it.

Having rest it doesn't mean I agree with it all. And certainly doesn't mean I understand it all. Laughing

I start working in a new location today. Not sure when I'll be able to put any thought into things. Hopefully within a couple days.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you do Fist?
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I work with developmentally disabled adults. Many group homes around here. My new position is mostly paperwork. Still lots of interaction with the folks, but I'm not part of any house's staffing minimum. I now go to several houses, largely making sure the paperwork is being done on time and correctly. If it is not, the company has to give back funding to NY State or the Feds. Today was my first day in the new position. Absolutely horrible, since there is a ton I don't know about this particular paperwork.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Z, I think the problem is with the word "simulation". Going on what wf said, which I absolutely agree with, here's what I think. There's no such thing as a simulation. Take the GTA5 that the video talks about. It is nothing but electrons running around wires and disks inside the computer. The electrons are, by design, running around in patterns that produce pictures on monitors and sounds from speakers.

But the program is not simulating anything. We could say a puppet show is a simulation of people doing whatever it's depicting. We cannot say the same about the electrons zipping through the computer. Without the monitor and speakers, there is nothing that might make us think of anything other than current in a computer.

In what way have you "removed the matter"? We see the images on the monitor, just as we see an actual person and car. We hear the sounds from the speaker, just as we hear an actual person speak and car engine. We don't feel the wetness of water, because we don't have "tactile projectors", or whatever we might call them. If we did? We would feel the water.

NOW how do we say matter is missing? Just like actual water, we only know about it because of what our brain registers through our eyes, ears, and skin. If the equipment is good enough, real and "simulated" water would be indistinguishable. Because the simulation takes place inside our minds. The same way and place we experience actual matter. And once we cannot tell the difference, will we say we've created matter? It's still electrons in a computer.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fist, I am sorry, but that is absurd. There are no simulations? So what we experience as simulations are just illusions? A simulation of a simulation? Lol. In that case there *are* simulations. Laughing

A simulation is more than electrons zipping along inside a computer. If that were the case, then it would not matter if the computer was on, if it was broken, or if it was running Microsoft Excel. The form matters, the program matters, the screen matters, the speakers matter. The simulation happens as in interaction between the hardware, the software, the output devices, and the person experiencing them.

Even on your drastically reduced example, an example that no one ever uses in real life--a computer with no output device--the simulation is still real in terms of its mathematics, the abstract relations it represents. To deny this would be like saying that there is no child pornography because it's only zeros and ones on a hard drive. Wayfriend is refuting something that no one ever claimed. No one ever suggested that there is a little tiny world inside the computer. Yes, it is comprised of electrons zipping around. But then again, so is reality.

Of *course* a simulation is an illusion! That's the whole freaking point!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
You proposed that we're in a Matrix, and yet unicorns are too ridiculous to contemplate? You want to claim that anything can happen, and yet unicorns are impossible? It's just a horse with a horn on its head. I'd say that unicorns are about 1,000,000 times more likely than the idea that the entire universe is a computer simulation. Smile

Apology accepted. Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
Zarathustra wrote:
You proposed that we're in a Matrix, and yet unicorns are too ridiculous to contemplate? You want to claim that anything can happen, and yet unicorns are impossible? It's just a horse with a horn on its head. I'd say that unicorns are about 1,000,000 times more likely than the idea that the entire universe is a computer simulation. Smile

Apology accepted. Wink
Did you read the first sentence of the thread where I admitted that I used to think the idea was silly? Actually, read the whole 1st paragraph. I compared it to Descartes's hypothetical "evil demon," to religion, etc. You took all time and trouble to dig up a quote to prove that I've contradicted myself, but you didn't take the time to read the opening post of this thread.

I don't owe anyone an apology for changing my mind based on new scientific thinking. That's the sign of an open mind. I'm proud of it, not ashamed.

With that said, I still think it's more likely to find a horse with a horn on its head than to find that we're in the Matrix.

[edit]I see now why you didn't include a link, where we could see the context of the discussion. If you had, it would have been easy to find where I'd also said this:

I wrote:
If we're living in a virtual reality, I admit that all bets are off. But then miracles wouldn't require the intervention of God. They would be computer simulations. If the entire world is a computer simulation, then there is nothing miraculous (or even improbable) about any particular simulation within it.


So despite my incredulity, I was still able to entertain the idea--you know, a thought experiment--and I was consistent in my claim that there would be nothing supernatural about it.

I'd picked the number "1,000,000 times more likely" to make fun of the alleged evidence of the efficacy of prayer by some mathematician pulling a nice, round number out of his ass. Context matters. I took the VR possibility seriously. I treated it seriously. My comparing it to unicorns wasn't to make *it* look silly. I brought up unicorns to make the mathematical treatment of miracles look silly. And when my unicorn example was shot down as silly (by you), I pointed out that you were backing up your argument with VR, which I thought would be even less likely (though I never said silly, or supernatural, etc.).
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Did you read the first sentence of the thread where I admitted that I used to think the idea was silly?

Indeed, I did. And my internal response was, "Silly? You responded antagonistically toward the one who proposed it." And considering I linked the paper from an Oxford professor where you've now seen a YouTube video so consider that it's worth discussing seriously (rather than equating it to thinking we're 'living in the Matrix') ... Laughing But for some reason, I have no inclination to look through the cryptozoolgist literature for the feasibility of unicorns. By all means, change your mind. I just find the balance of your forbearance for odd ideas and your need to passionately expound the truth a little heavy in your favor.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
You responded antagonistically toward the one who proposed it.
No, I didn't. As my self-quote shows above, I treated the idea seriously. My point about unicorns was a parody of the "mathematician proves that prayer isn't impossible," idea, not VR. My first mention of unicorns was this: "A mathematician could claim that unicorns appear on earth every 1,000,000 years, yet we wouldn't have to accept this claim merely because he is a mathematician." You were using VR to make apparent miracles seem plausible (an argument which I admitted would be "all bets off, anything could happen"), while I was using unicorns to make probablistic arguments for efficacious prayer seem implausible. You shot down my argument derisively, even though I treated yours seriously. That's when I got annoyed and responded sarcastically to the acceptability of VR arguments, but not horned horse arguments.

Have you seriously been carrying this chip on your shoulder for 11 years now?

Syl wrote:
And considering I linked the paper from an Oxford professor where you've now seen a YouTube video so consider that it's worth discussing seriously (rather than equating it to thinking we're 'living in the Matrix') ... Laughing
You do realize that Oxford professors can be found on Youtube, right? I've mentioned Bostrom myself, and linked a few articles from reputable sources. This isn't entirely based on a single Youtube video. That one got me thinking, and then I did some more research.

Lots of animals have horns on their heads. Lots of them are vaguely similar to horses (e.g. moose). Hell, cows can have horns. It's not really all that strange. It's not a stretch to imagine that a mutation could lead to a horse with a horn. In fact, the horse's closest living relative is the rhino. I predict that one day we'll genetically engineer a unicorn. We'll likely see that before we see a full-blown Matrix style VR indistinguishable from reality.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Zar, I've gone to bed every night wiping away a tear about how I felt you were mean to me in a response to a theory I didn't believe one way or another. (though a few years later under the influence, I was absolutely convinced that this was the case, even if I lacked the same conviction once sober the next morning. similarly, I was once certain that there were beings that lived between time that approved/disapproved certain events in human history, and they would be certain to destroy my life if I in any way let on that I was aware of their existence. Stuff is just too strong these days) Mr. Green

Seriously, I just have a very good memory. I'm glad you're now enjoying the possibility of the theory (which was my original intent in proposing it in the first place), but what I'm saying in my asshole-ish way is that I wish you would have been a bit more open to the idea back then... or in an alternate universe/simulation, you'd say, "Damn, Syl was really onto something.""
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyway, back to the subject at hand:

Earlier in the thread, I found Wayfriend's dismissal a bit like Einstein's dismissal of quantum mechanics ("God does not play dice.") In its infancy, QM was a bit like SR or even the holographic principle theory (though I vaguely recall someone publishing something suggesting the theory could be disproven).

My thinking these days is that it's a piece of the greater picture, which runs something along the lines that nothing is real, but rather all realities are real simultaneously and what we perceive as consciousness is the selective unraveling of one of those realities, in essence,simulating one possibility (personally, I like to tie it into the idea of our perceived reality being one in which we must always perceive reality, thus You Can Never Die, but I acknowledge that as a bit of magical thinking). This, in turn, has led me slightly away from the stance of absolute determinism toward a more quantum model of consciousness.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syl, if you had started a serious thread on the idea, laying out Bostrom's argument, instead of using it as a throw-away point to justify the idea that miracles need not be supernatural, then I hope that I would have responded exactly as I have here in the OP. I had no idea the VR argument was something *you* were treating seriously. I stand corrected. Welcome to the discussion. Do you have anything on-topic to add? I would be genuinely interested. (Better late than never!)

***Edit: Hey, guess what! You did start a thread on the issue. Here's my first post in that thread:

http://kevinswatch.ihugny.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=917291#917291

I wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:01 pm

Quote:
peter the barsteward wrote:

I'm always amazed how easily people who will not begin to accept the idea of a creator will aceppt the same idea as a possibility once it is couched in 'scientific' tems like 'simulation' or 'hologram' etc. I can't make the distinction myself. If the Universe we live in was 'created' by a setient being or beings, then that being or beings would constitute 'God' to me irrespective of whether they wore white coats and worked in a laboratory or sat in a golden chair with long white hair and a beard.


The distinction is the same as the tooth fairy vs your parents, or Atlas vs gravity. It's a natural, testable, falsifiable explanation of something vs a magical explanation for something, which can't be tested, verified, or falsified.

If super-scientists created us, I don't understand why this would constitute "god." I certainly wouldn't feel compelled to worship them. If they told me:

"I made you, now you have to do what I say or suffer eternal torment,"

I'd reply:

"Ah, I see ... so then giving me freewill was just some twisted joke by a bunch of violent, torturing, control-freak psychopaths. Got it. Now go f*ck yourselves, super-scientists."
While I joked about super-scientists being gods, I was mocking the idea that we had to consider them supernatural, not the idea of our reality being VR. In fact, I defended that as "natural, testable, falsifiable explanation of something . . . "
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do we propose that one could prove that the universe is NOT a simulation?

No matter what observation one could produce which refutes simulation, any advocate of simulation would only say "but maybe that's how the simulation is designed to work." They could even argue that whomever controls the simulation could control what we are able to observe, and could fool us into thinking that the universe is not a simulation.

It seems to me you can't do it. "Because the simulation works that way" refutes any fact one could posit.

The similarity to "because God made it that way" is not lost on me.

This is the way that the universal simulation theory is like believing in God, or angels, or magic. If you choose to believe it, no one could prove that you are wrong.

(And please don't give me the horsesh** reasoning that if two things are not similar in one way, they cannot be similar in any way. Which is what the whole "computer simulation is not magic" argument really is.)
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend, my rebuttal to this same exact point (which apparently you retyped as if nothing happened?) required that I talk about the nature of science, falsification, and other examples of things that can't be falsified--and are yet still scientific--things besides simulations. That's why your post was moved to the appropriate thread, because it was clearly off-topic, as I've defined the topic, which I can do, because it's my thread.

So, my on-topic rebuttal is this: I don't have to consider how to prove it false, because it's a thought experiment where I imagine the consequences of considering if it's true. That's the purpose of the thread. I don't believe it's true. I'm talking about the philosophical implications if we discovered that it's true (e.g. if we measured the cosmic rays and found that space was discontinuous). Such a discovery would force us to rethink our reality, just as discovering that aliens exist would force us to rethink (a proposition that is likewise not falsifiable). So I created this thread to get a head start on that thinking, what it would mean to us if we proved it was true.

If you want to consider why this is an example of psuedo-science, I created a whole thread for that. Are you hoping that if you ignore my wishes here in keeping the thread on topic that you'll piss me off enough that I'll do something to get me banned? Sorry, you're not going to Cail me. You're just being belligerent and rude.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So that's how you dodged my [totally on topic] post - someone punted it elsewhere and no one sent me the slightest word about it. I thought it was deleted. Certainly no one discussed moving it with me, which means BARE DECENCY wasn't even met. So the moderator (or someone) isn't even acting in good faith.

Still, it would also be on topic to answer my question if you can. Which isn't about the nature of science, it is about the theory that you suggest (via references) that no one who is intelligent can disbelieve.
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