Re: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Norman Noman (
Date: Wed Aug 15 2007 - 18:18:06 MDT

On 8/15/07, Henry Wolf VII <> wrote:
> The problem with those assumptions is that you only have access to one
> game. There are still plenty of 2D games available. If you only have
> access to that one 2D game, you would assume that there were only two
> dimensions and time. This ignores that there may be many more that we can't
> yet perceive. Looking back fifteen years, you would assume that the
> universe only has sixteen colors.

Most 2D games still have the APPEARANCE of a third dimension, and most 3D
games have action confined to a surface. It's fairly clear in both cases
that they are made to be played on a 2D screen, and thus by 3D people.

Our one instance in this "universe" is nowhere near enough to extrapolate
> accurately to an outside universe. If this is a simulation, the beings that
> created it would be post-singularity level beings. Due to the nature of the
> singularity, their existence is currently impossible to describe.

It seems to me the very fact that they are "post-singularity level beings"
is the beginning of a description. If indeed they are, then many more
predictions might be made, because while a post-singularity entity could be
and do almost anything, what it WOULD do depends on the original
optimization target of whoever orchestrated the singularity, and whether
something went wrong and that target became corrupted.

In either case, the original target was probably something we would not find
totally alien, if it was the target of evolved beings, because evolution is
likely to create beings that are like us in many ways, regardless of the
environment. Beings that like surviving, eating, and reproducing. Beings
that are just exactly smart enough to create civilization.

However, I'm not sure it is certain a simulation would have to be created by
post-singularity level beings. If the laws of their reality are
significantly different from our own, they may have been able to create near
infinite computing power long before they have a singularity, and all you
need to simulate our universe is gobs of computing power and our laws of

In fact, I think it's plausible that they could simulate a universe
pre-singularity even if their world is just like ours. Perhaps the hurdle to
strong AI is bigger than we think, and nanotech gets its day in the sun. I
could see it being possible only years from now to make a planet into a
giant computer that was still essentially dumb, and a planet made of
computronium could probably simulate a reasonable chunk of universe if you
cheated a bit.

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