Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Emlyn (
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 02:03:13 MST

----- Original Message -----
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Sent: Monday, March 19, 2001 3:59 PM
Subject: Re: How To Live In A Simulation

> In a message dated 3/18/01 12:29:03 PM, writes:
> ><> Wrote:
> >
> >> The problem is that we can make predictions that apply outside particle
> >> accelerators - for example, that radioactive isotopes of potassium will
> >>decay at certain rates. And they do.
> >
> >Yes but only when you look at the radioactive isotopes of potassium ; I
> >don't know about you but I haven't done that in, gee, it must have been
> Some people look at that everyday. And if were different, it would have
> consequences for mutation rates, etc. The geiger counter in my lab
> would have to influence minicircle mutations of the cells I work with.
> Or would that only be when it's on? Did the rules of the universe change
> last month when it was out of spec? Are you really serious about this?
> > >Everywhere we look these rules are being followed
> >
> >But what about far more numerous places we haven't looked?
> Place we don't or haven't looked often produce consequences
> > > To know in advance all possible consequences of a simplification to
> > > rules and know that will produce no contradictions implies a
> > > of the future incompatible with a sim.
> >
> >Is there any reason to think that our world contains no contradictions?
> It's done a remarkable good job of appearing to be.
> Fundamentally, these arguments are the same as a last resort of
> creationists. They say God "poofed" the world into existence 6K
> years ago with all the evidence for 15 gigayears, evolution, etc.
> Actually I'd say your arguments are less plausible; at least they
> don't have God *currently* running mad tweaks when I turn on
> my geiger counter! Scientific thinking
> depends on acknowlegement that the world is; if somebody holds
> to a faith in contravention of all possible evidence against it,
> what's to say?

These kind of hypothesis can actually sit quite comfortably alongside
science. Science is only an accumulation of knowledge about actions, and
measurements of outcomes supposedly related to those actions.

Occams' razor undoubtedly slashes away the simulation theory. But that is
only for practical purposes! Occams' razor and science in general claim
nothing about the *real* state of things. They are about building a
workable, consistent model of reality. The blueprint for a sim, even!

We can make no argument against the possibility that the world is a sim,
based on measured outcomes, because we cannot know what resources an
outer-layer has. They may very well be able to sim everything, or only
locally perceived things, tweaking here and there, providing depth as

We deny ideas such as the sim, or God creating the universe recently to
trick us (urh, test our faith?),for purely aesthetic & practical reasons.
It's just a lot more elegant, and useable, to say that the universe just is,
and there's no trickery involved. But if it turned out to be the case
tomorrow that we really were in a sim (say the simmers popped in to say hi),
then the work of science is not undermined, in so far as we can expect the
rules of the universe to remain studiable. Science does usually involve a
claim, I think, that the rules don't change, which might start to look
shaky, but there will then be meta rules (the rules of the outside world)
which we can look to.

The line of reasoning about the MWI, and the statistical improbability of us
not being a sim, is quite ingenious. I think it's got legs... lets see how
far it can run. If it does begin to look substantial, the ever fickle Occam
may begin to aim his straight blade at our existing, ill defined
assumptions; that our universe is the "real" one, whatever that means.

Emlyn James O'Regan - Managing Director
Wizards of AU
"Australian IT Wizards - US Technology Leaders
Pure International Teleworking in the Global Economy"

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