Re: is information the bottom line?

J. Eric Mortensen (
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 13:52:31 +0100

Tim Bates:

>and Paul said
>>To accept any limit simply because we don't know of a way around it,
>>circumvents the tranhumanist spirit of inquiry and exploration.
>I am sensitive to some elements of the spirit behind this claim. But I
>disagree with it. It is simply not up to us what limits there are. They
>either are or are not. And that was really my point.
>What i responded to in Eric's initial mail was the idea that not only is
>everything we "know" wrong (I am confident that it is), but that it could
>be wrong in a way which invalidated all of our efforts to understand the

If you interpreted me as arguing that everything we know could be wrong in a way that makes it impossible for us to understand the universe, then you misunderstood me. You also misunderstood me if you thought I was a creationist. I am an atheist (more precisely, I'm anti-religious).

What I meant was that, if we have the capacity to discover how the universe came into being, then we should be able to discover whether it was created by
something for some purpose (e.g., simulation, fun, whatever, or perhaps by accident)
or whether it came into being spontanously, with no creator. We should even be able to
discover whether we in fact exist physically, or whether we exist as a simulation
inside a big computer.

Considering the possibility that our universe exists as a computer simulation, the fact that we haven't seen any trace of an outside environment indicates that 1) such an environment doesn't exist, or 2) if it does, its existence is currently irrelevant for our understanding
of this universe, i.e., all our scientific predictions are still correct, so an
outside environment will not help us scientifically explain any new phenomena.

>That it could be wrong in a Cartesian fashion: with the whole universe in
>fact put into play by a creator who has left no trace of himself.
>Accepting this, to me, makes a mockery of being human. Frankly, if for
>one moment I conceived that this was possible, I would exercise the only
>free choice left to me: I would excuse myself from this joke at my

I don't see why you should excuse yourself. In fact, why should you even care?

What difference does it make, scientifically, whether we are all part in some big computer lab simulation, or whether we exist physically as matter. If it turns out that we are all advanced
processes living inside a computer, should we discard any of our scientific knowledge,
knowledge that we have discovered do a remarkable job at explaining our reality?

I suggest that the plausibility of any statement about our reality being true is
independent of in what form we exist. The laws of motion, the laws of evolution,
the laws of supply and demand etc. are no more or less true whether we are products of a systems engineer's imagination, or whether we are physical products of chance.



J. Eric Mortensen,

>cheerio chaps,