Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 13:52:15 MST

In response to my comment about the basement universe having no "purpose",
Hal wrote:

> How would you characterize the individuals in The Matrix who were trapped
> in the simulation? Are they real people or not? We know they have
> physical bodies which lie in gel-filled pods,

Well, we "think" they do, by the end of the movie I wasn't so
sure exactly *what* was the real reality was.

Adopting your frame of reference, then yes, the consciousness these
people have is running on the "basement" level hardware which is
the most efficient produced by "natural" evolution so far as we know.

> while their consciousness interacts in virtual reality.

Agreed. This is in fact a more efficient implementation because
since they aren't running around in the real world they don't
expend the excess energy required for that. Nice efficient hives
designed to require minimal heating & cooling, etc. Much more
efficient than what we have now. A much larger population could
probably be supported using the same resources.

> They are unaware of their true nature and their existence is
> essentially purposeless. It seems like this would
> satisfy your definition of saying that these people are not "real".

Perhaps I misspoke or you may have misinterpreted my statements.
If its "purposeless" then it *is* real. If it was created by someone
for a purpose then you have only been "loaned" the basement level
matter and energy and it is subject to recall at any point.

I would say that our world today and the Matrix virtual world
are equally purposeless, the Matrix world more efficiently so.

Now, to the degree that we are headed in the direction that we will
eventually get our hands on the controls of our own self-evolution
and can begin to really drive our car, we have "purpose". (Certainly
others would define other aspects of their lives as having "purpose".
I don't consider mere survival to really be a "purpose", though many

> Yet we can stand there and look at them in their pods. Does it make
> sense to say that these physical people, lying there and thinking in
> front of us, are not real?

They are "real" and in the sense that the VR they inhabit is
taking up a fair amount of compuntronium and energy, which is
"real" too. But the question becomes who constructed that reality
and put them all there? (I don't remember if this was in the film).
Did they do it to themselves? [I can see humans doing this if the
were in a resource short environment and couldn't manage to get
the population under control.] Or did aliens land on the planet
and do it to the humans so they could run off with the remainder
of the resources? Or was it done as a benevolent gesture to keep
people from actually harming and potentially killing themselves?
(This is the baisis for "The Eden Cycle" I think.)

Raises some interesting questions -- should we mandate putting
people in the pods to protect them from the hazards of the
"real" universe but allow themselves to cause their virtual selves
all kinds of pain and suffering? Will people willingly submit
themselves to this kind of reality because a nano-engineered
world will simply be too dull and boring? etc.


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