Re: The SA and the DA

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Tue Mar 07 2006 - 17:45:54 MST

Hi all,

About whether the universe is a simulation, an interesting line of
argument is given by Ross Rhodes in:

I don't find this entirely convincing, but I do think it is at least a
viable counterargument to the argument Eliezer made.

Basically, what Rhodes is arguing is that:

1) There are many ways the laws of physics could, in principle, be

2) The particular laws of physics that we see in our universe are
particularly reminiscent of "how the laws of physics would be if they
were running on a computer simulation."

For example (to paraphrase loosely: please read the article before
critiquing his ideas) our universe has the following simulation-esque

* having an "underlayer" with dynamics and structures different from
the world observed by the intelligent agents in the world

* having nonlocality in this underlayer (the quantum realm) combined
with locality in the macro world (just as pixels on a screen may be
nonlocally connected via code though physically separated within the
"screen world")

* a maximum rate of information transmission (the speed of light),
which would be a good trick for a programmer to use to limit the
amount of compute resources needed to run the simulation.

I don't find these properties all *that* amazingly simulation-esque.
However, I do think that looking for simulation-esque properties in
the laws of physics is a viable way to argue that the universe may be
a simulation.

And, I note that the "universe as simulation" hypothesis is not
entirely content-free. If we are living in a simulation, then
possibly there is a bug or intentional loophole in the code running
the simulation, so maybe we should look for a way out.

(No, this is not a primary focus of my life right now ;-> ... I'm just
pointing out some sensible and logical, albeit rather far-out,

-- Ben G

On 3/7/06, Dirk Bruere <> wrote:
> On 3/7/06, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> > Phillip Huggan wrote:
> > >
> > > Is there a solid logical refutation to the theory that the world was
> > > created 5 seconds ago by unicorns as a by-product of their dreams?
> >
> > Yes. The world contains a vast amount of compressible order for which
> > the simplest explanation is physics. Either your hypothesis is that the
> > unicorns dreamed all of physics up to this point - which is simply
> > existing physics plus "unicorns", an unjustified penalty of Kolmogorov
> > complexity - or, even worse, the unicorns dreamed something that
> > coincidentally looks exactly like highly ordered physics. Either way,
> > physics alone is a simpler hypothesis with a far greater prior
> probability.
> I would draw just the opposite conclusion - that the vast algorithmic
> compressibility suggests the easiest Sim a Unicorn could get away with.
> Dirk

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