Re: Fwd: effing the ineffable

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Jul 15 2001 - 14:54:50 MDT

Chris Hibbert wrote:
> In a paper ("Are You Living in a Simulation?",
> recommended by Brian
> Atkins, Nick Bostrom argues that
> > at least one of the following propositions is true:
> > (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching the
> > posthuman stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to
> > run significant number of simulations or (variations) of their
> > evolutionary history; (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer
> > simulation.
> His argument is plausible, but I would argue that it gives us no cause
> to change our behavior. It has the same feel as this parody of the
> Christian's claim: "There exists an omnipotent, omniscient being who
> almost never interferes in the world we perceive." In both cases, no
> evidence is proffered; in fact, in both cases the claim is that evidence
> doesn't exist because of the way the system is set up.

And that is exactly reasonable. If we are in a sim or (more or
less equivalently) there exist this omnipotent, omniscient being
(at least relative to us) then in both cases relatively little
this world or this sim evidence is exactly what should be
expected. However, I find it interesting that now and then in
every culture there are those who claim to have contacted or
been contacted by that outside this world/sim. If we were in a
sim then a lot of systems of spirituality at least in their
esoteric details could be an attempt to express the nature of
this world as "illusion" or derivative from some other reality.
Stories of an "astral plane" or "causal plane" map pretty well
to the level of the software itself and the programmer[s] behind
it. Well, at least with a bit of squinting they do.

Another possibility I toy with is that when this world goes into
Singularity we need in good faith to make a place for those who
do not want to be in the Singularity for whatever reason. They
want and/or need to live in a pre-Singularity world. They have
too much unfinished business in that sort of world. Yet we do
not wish them to simply die in misery nor can the future be put
on hold to satisfy their needs. What to do? One possibility is
to put all such people into sim worlds that are as they wish to
live in or are right for the level they are dealing with and
perhaps stuck on. When they die in the sim they are not lost
but can evaluate their life and choose what is next in
cooperation with those who help in such evaluations. They pick
a next situation or it picks them and they are reborn, usually
forgetting the old life and the time of evaluation and/or rest
in between. They do this on a particular level until they are
done with that level and ready to move on.

Note that this is quite doable in principle and is almost
exactly what some of the Eastern religions teach. Does it give
you just a little bit of pause over where these teachings
actually came from and what they are about? Does it at least
make you think of how we can design in reality post-Singularity
so that all sentient being may have the space and time to live
fully and to evolve?

> Should we try to make the simulation end as the Tibetan Buddhists are
> reputed to be doing? Should we do what we can to lengthen the extent of
> the simulation, at the cost of foregoing some things we would otherwise
> chose to do? If we wanted to lengthen or shorten the span of the
> simulation, what evidence do we have about what actions would be effective?

In light of the above I doubt it is that simple or that we are
in charge of the simulation. Due to Singularity we will simply
become cognizant and part of the creation and running of the
sim. Some will step to the next level permanently. Some need
more time in this and other sims. Who knows how many levels
there are or how many we will create?
> Better to believe that the universe is as it presents itself to us, and
> choose goals and approaches based on that evidence. A creator that
> wanted us to do otherwise (or that put conscious entities in a situation
> where that was the best thing to do) is not worth bowing to.

Are you sure about that? Perhaps the purpose of this Sim is to
create and evolve new sentients that gradually themselves become
evolved, intelligent and wise enough to create more sentience in
their turn. Perhaps this world, this level of sim, is like a
glider gun for the creation of Singularities and new sims in
their turn.

Of course there is no proof of this within the sim directly.

- samantha

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