Re: Simulation argument in the NY Times

From: Norman Noman (
Date: Fri Aug 17 2007 - 16:54:40 MDT

> > How can we assign probabilities to extrapolations when we have no
> > idea what proportion of the complete set of imaginable things we
> > can imagine?
> >
> >
> > This objection applies to every assignment of probability, not just
> > ones related to looking outside the box. I'm not sure what the real
> > probability answer is, if there is one.
> Not to every assignment of probability, just to the ones where we have
> incomplete information - for example, I know that the dice is fair, I
> know Newtonian physics, so I can be reasonably certain that the chances
> of rolling a particular number are about 1 in 6.

I can imagine only three things that would limit what we can imagine. First,
and most obvious, things which are simply too complicated. In this case we
should still be able to imagine them in rough outline. Second, things which
are impossible in the fundamental logic of our universe, like 2 + 2 = 5. We
can certainly imagine the representation of this, but we can't imagine it
actually being true, because it's incoherent.

Third, perhaps we have a specific mental block that prevents us from
thinking about certain things, which is so sophisticated that it defeats all
attempts to circumnavigate it, and includes its own existence in the set of
things it prevents us from seeing. This is certainly physically possible,
but would seem to require the tampering of some very powerful entity.

If we take the hypothesis that the universe is built on an infinite regress,
and from it the theory that there are, in the infinite embeddings, an
infinite set which are deliberate simulations, then it would seem at first
glance that:

A. This sort of tampering must be cast down through the layers an infinite
number of times, and thus
B. All thought, or at least all extraneous higher thought that does not
affect our survival, must be corrupted to the point of being entirely
C. Therefore, this argument itself is corrupted to the point of being
entirely incoherent.

But of course, this is wrong, because as well as simulating a universe in
which all thought, even by entities in sub-simulations and sub-sub
simulations is corrupted, one could also simulate a universe in which all
thought was PROTECTED from such corruption, or at least further corruptions.
The interactions of infinite kinds of layered tampering and prevention of
tampering are difficult to calculate, to say the least...

Of course, perhaps there is a simple solution which we are prevented from
imagining, no?

My point is, this problem DOES apply to everything, even the rolling of
dice, because your logic could always be tampered with, and your perception
of the likelihood that your logic was tampered with could always be tampered
with as well. The unthinkable is a crack in rationality which has an unknown
size. It might be a hairline, it might be a chasm.

"I am confident that if anyone actually penetrates our facades, even the
most perceptive would still be fundamentally unprepared for the truth of
House Dimir."
- Szadek

To me, the incompleteness of the information available about our own
> universe is the crux of the problem: we simply don't know enough to say
> for certain whether we are living in a simulation, much less to make any
> guesses about the nature of the universe which may or may not be
> simulating us. Needless to say it would be very interesting to find out.

The only thing that makes me think we're in a simulation is the
philosophical problem of "why". Simulation doesn't solve this, but it is a
probable step in any infinite chain of cause and effect. From all
appearances, our intelligence was born of evolution, and earthly life was
born of emergent structures, and a universe with only emergent-level order
certainly does not require a designer.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:58 MDT