Re: Implementation, Simulation, and Emulation

Date: Tue Mar 18 2008 - 00:46:38 MDT


"allow me to address what I think you're (rightly)
really getting to: what if the AI just dreams up a whole scenario
having no other referent outside its own imagination?

Imagination! "Its" own? That in and of itself out weighs this entire argument.
Can of worms open.


Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

-----Original Message-----
From: "Lee Corbin" <>

Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 23:14:43
Subject: Re: Implementation, Simulation, and Emulation

Stathis writes

> Lee wrote:
>> I now rather think, by the way, that Stathis maybe should have said "No,
>> I'm being *implemented* in Platonia". And he might have corrected my
>> usage by something like "Lee, no, I'm not being emulated by a rock,
>> the rock and I are on an equal footing, we're both being *implemented*
>> in Platonia". Of course, I don't know yet if that's what Stathis might really
>> have thought or agreed with.
> Yes, OK: the simulation or the emulation is being implemented on a
> computer somewhere, maybe the big Turing machine in Platonia.

Hmm. I suspect that the rock and you are *simply* being implemented.
and suspect that there are no emulations or simulations evident here.

> But if there's no "original" do we call it a simulation or an emulation?

I don't think that we do so call it. That is, we normally have a case
that "A simulates B", or "A emulates B". In each, we are referring
to a larger or more basic machine that simulates or emulates a
smaller or simpler machine. (But see below.)

Now what I just wrote can be taken literally if we believe MWI.
That's because whatever "simulation" the AI dreams up, it really
did happen in some other universe. But let's forget that for a
moment, and allow me to address what I think you're (rightly)
really getting to: what if the AI just dreams up a whole scenario
having no other referent outside its own imagination?

Well, in that case, I suggest, we may be using the word "simulation"
in yet another way, one that does not relate very closely to the
CS usage. If people found that we are all living in a simulation
that was not a historical re-creation, but just entirely a figment of
the AI's imagination, then they'd be using the term as in "what
we are living in is an *imitation* of an actual sort of existence".
That is, *this only "simulates" or "imitates", "parodies", "impersonates",
etc., some real Earth made of real rocks and trees, that actually
does not exist in the Milky Way galaxy or anywhere else in a
small finite universe.

> We do refer to virtual worlds as "simulations" even when
> they aren't actually simulating anything;

Right. Have I captured what you are saying here in my own
words above? I also always read that as "We are being simulated,
or we are living in a simulation" as also implying "There is some
bottom level process of which we are unaware that is a more
basic reality, and that our level is just another level being imitated
more or less by the lower level." (Or by perhaps any large finite
number of levels, each one implementing the level above it.)

> can we than have an emulation of a simulation?

Interesting. Let me see. On my usage of terms, a simulation
of Abraham Lincoln would appear to everyone's consternation
in Washington D.C. tomorrow, and quickly convince historians
that he was the real McCoy. But the truth would be that either

  (i) a hidden AI, vastly more intelligent than people, was just
      pulling his strings. Rather than actually having its own
      thoughts and feelings, the Lincoln would be merely outwardly
      exhibiting false signs of them. The AI might reside in a tiny,
      tiny microchip embedded in the Lincoln's pineal gland, say :-)

 (ii) an uncannily talented actor really was fooling everyone. Though
      the actor has thoughts and feelings of his own, he's just imitating
      the historical Lincoln's, not actually feeling the real Lincoln's
      emotions nor having the real Lincoln's moral concerns, etc.

(iii) Our whole world is being "simulated" by some AI with a
      fanciful imagination (the sort usually being referred to people
      when they say "*this is a simulation"), but all the rest of us
      are real in the sense that we are independent modules in
      the AI's implementation of Earth. We really have our own
      feelings, independent thoughts, etc., except for the 2008
      Lincoln, who is a simulation as in (i) and (ii).

Now your question

> can we than have an emulation of a simulation?

might mean several things. On (i) above, it would mean that an even
vaster (or more basic level AI) was emulating the first AI who is
imbedded in the ersatz Lincoln together with the rest of the ersatz
Lincoln's body. The AI in Lincoln's pineal gland would have no
clue that he was really being emulated, say, on an Intel 4000086
chip, by the Microsoft 2050 version of whatever OS bloatware
they have going by then, probably "DreamyVista version 2050",
or some other horrible name. The AI in the Lincoln's pineal
gland believes that he has actual access to the hardware level,
i.e., that "he" is the OS.

On (ii), the case of the uncannily talented actor just arrived in
Washington D.C. who has fooled *everybody*, an emulation
is easy: some machine just uploads the actor in a few microseconds
and runs the emulation, the "interior" or computer version running
exactly in parallel with the real actor. The actor has been emulated.

On (iii), where our whole world is a simulation not necessarily
having any actual, real historical predecessor, and only the Lincoln
is simulated (the rest of us being real in the simulation), then making
an emulation of the Lincoln means, I guess, just another simulation,
Lincoln2. But that's problematic, since Lincoln depends on the
same calculations done by whatever is simulating our whole Earth.
Maybe an "emulation of a simulation" here would mean just another
copy of the Lincoln simulation. The picture is clear---but the words
to describe it don't appear to be too easy to find.

>> So I will continue to insist that the goal of uploading is to emulate
>> a human consciousness, not simulate it, and we need some sort
>> of terminological distinction for this, if not the one I've been pushing
>> on this list and Extropians for five or ten years.
> Yes. But apparently there are some, such as Jeff L. Jones, who would
> work hard to overcome this bias. I think that that would be like
> working hard to overcome a fear of death.

Oh, sorry. I had missed that you and Jeff were disagreeing. Well, in
that case I'm with you naturally, since (if you have characterized his
position correctly) I certainly don't want to overcome any "bias"
that I exist, have a life, and am a person. But to be literal---I don't
have a fear of death. I just think the more runtime I get, the better.
(E.g., if right now I'm just a copy on a planet orbiting Sirius of the
real Lee who is in California, and I learn (unlike the California Lee)
that I was brought into existence on this planet orbiting Sirius for
the sole purpose of giving Lee two extra hours of runtime. The
remote Lee on Sirius would say, "Well, two hours was better than
nothing. My sincere thanks for giving them to me."


P.S. Apolgies to Philip K. Dick who used a "Lincoln" very much
as in one of the scenarios above in his novel "We Can Build You".

P.P.S. Sorry I'm so far behind reading the great posts on this list.

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