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According to the simulation argument, there are only three possibilities:

1. almost zero civilizations achieve technological maturity

2. almost zero civilizations that reach technological maturity create world simulations

3. we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation

I don't think that our behavior should necessarily change depending on whether or not we are living in a computer simulation (although the first option seems pretty terrifying). That's not why I'm asking. My curiosity arises from a purely /sci/entific perspective.

So which is it lain?


I don't understand what consciousness inside a computer even means, so I lean towards 1 or 2.


Aren't these a bit anthropocentric?


I've always viewed this thought experiment as ultimately being a bit moot; if we're working with the assumption that the simulation is a 'perfect' simulation and indiscernible from reality then we have no way of knowing whether we're in such a simulation or not. At that point what does it matter?


If Roco's Basilisk is real, shouldn't we be devoting all our energies towards creating Roco's Basilisk? Or at least the simulation-within-a-simulation of Roco's Basilisk?


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Not a computer simulation (the correct term would be "emulaltion" anyway).
A virtual reality, as in "being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted". That for sure.


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>2. almost zero civilizations that reach technological maturity create world simulations
As boring as it is, I lean towards this argument. The concept that it is possible to create a computer that can accurately simulate an entire universe is a pretty big assumption.

On the other hand, a fair bit of the behaviour of quantum particles suggests optimization, at least in my opinion.

Photon superposition specifically makes sense if you consider a wave easier to "render" than a "wave" actually composed of very many particles. They only act as particles when they are observed, i.e. when it is "necessary"

In my mind, this is very similar to how many video games dynamically render environments, so only what is being observed by the user is rendered, as needed, instead of rendering the entire environment at once.


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In theory, statistics prove that we live a simulation. Because the chance of us not living in a simulation is too small. This is because simulations can make other simulations and so on. So all you need is for one civilization to make that one initial simulation, and then they're off.

There has also been some evidence from physics (Holographic Principle) that we live in a simulation.

If we live in a simulation, chances are, it's built by an artificial superintelligence (ASI)
It's hard to think that a purely biological species can develop such an accurate simulation like ours.
But for a trillion IQ + ASI, it will be a walk in the park.
Plus the ASI would have reasons for creating simulations.
For example, if it wanted to find out how a certain species would think, or simply how the world would plan out giving certain parameters.
In summary, it would give the ASI more knowledge and understanding. So an ASI wanted those things (knowledge, wisdom, etc.), simulations are a good tool to accomplish that.

To end, just remember that Lain is real and she is watching you.


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why not all 3?

emulation implies that the world we live in, or at least its rules, are a virtual recreation of an existing system. seeing as we do not know the hosts rules i see no problem with labeling the subject simulation.

as a point of interest to those in this thread, you may find Frank Tiplers Omega Point Theory worth looking into. its been a while since i read it but the gist is that we go on to create self-replicating machines that spread throughout the universe, themselves creating a single computer that, as the universe collapses back in on itself, gets smaller and smaller and, due to relativity in those final moments, has longer and longer to rebuild itself to fit into the diminishing space, and all programs running on the machine run faster and faster due to the ever improving hardware/software so essentially you reach a point where the machine is able to keep a simulated (or perhaps emulated in this case) version of reality running forever at infinite processing speed. the machine essentially becomes god and resurrects every being that ever existed an infinite about of times as a by-product of its emulation.

its kind of similar in a way to Asimovs Multivac / cosmic AC. i daresay he drew inspiration.

i don't believe Tiplers science holds up to peer review, but its none-the-less an interesting premise.


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These arguements assume that our laws of statistics hold external to our system - our reality. That when you extend to these other simulator systems you can still use all our description of mathematics.

I think as soon as you are involving external systems you cannot assume that the same descriptions, rules, laws and proofs can hold.


Anyone read Ian Banks' "The Algebraist"?
He offers a world with a meta-religion known as "The Truth", surrounding the simulation argument. Reckon The Truth's goal could work?


>They only act as particles when they are observed, i.e. when it is "necessary"

I like how this backs up shrödinger's cat


I'm suspicious of the simulation argument for several reasons, but mainly just because it feels like an attempt to make claims about the whole of the universe without needing to actually support them with evidence.

In more concrete terms: We don't know nearly enough about what it takes to simulate a universe to justify any level of confidence in an answer. We don't know what kinds of probabilities to attach to the three possibilities, we don't know if some of them are actually impossible, we don't even know that there are only three of them.

We just don't know.


Many of the people talking about whether were in a simulation or not seem to gloss over the fact that computer programs are equivalent to mathematical functions. Living in a simulation means that there are fundamental rules governing how the simulation plays out ever for quantum events. This is not a new idea and the implications for the universe being simulatable are more interesting than just that we are in a "simulation" the implication is that we are in a mathematical function. So while it's possible for the potential simulators to mess with their simulation or even turn it off, the full information of how the universe would play itself out without interference and until the heat death of the universe is contained in that function. Then the question becomes whether or not our existence even depends on being simulated if this function already contains all the information, it just needs to be de compressed by running the simulation. To put it another way does the simulation have to be run for us to "exist" or just to allow the simulators to view it ? If you accept that to "exist" only the function describing how to simulate out universe is needed then why is even the function needed ? There is random noise all over our universe and presumably other alternative universes if this random noise represented this function would we then exist ? Or does the correct interpretation of a mathematical function exist outside of time and space because it is true whether or not it has been discovered.


What is the probability of the people inside x simulation will hack their simulation, and compromise the entire chain of simulations?

If hack their simulation to hack their parent simulation, to hack their parent simulation, ect… they can hack all the way up to the TOP simulation, and shut it down?

Far fetched, but,
IF infinite simulations have been created, there must exist a probability that someone hacks a simulation, and compromises the entire system for all of us.


Instead of "de compressed" I would say "computed". In that, the mathematical function takes random noise and "unravels/computes/decompresses" it to simulate our universe. This computation simply allows the universe to "run" over "time".

Existence of OUR (your, mine, Bob's) consciousness and awareness?
Existence of matter, that is, the Hydrogen atom at coordinates [9,4] EXISTS and IS THERE and is real?
Existence of existence in and of itself?
Like things can in fact "exist", existence is real?

Existence, in the context of a computer simulation, would have to do with that they are stored on some Hard Drive or in RAM (memory).
This would mean that for that Hydrogen atom mentioned earlier to "exist", it would have to be stored in RAM or "Written down".
For the said Hydrogen atom to exist, it merely needs to be "written down" or stored as information.
But for something like consciousness to exist, it would require real-time computation of pre-existing information. This is because consciousness is a real-time brain awareness of things happening around it.
Thus, for consciousness to exist, the simulation would have to be ran.

>For us (our consciousness) to exist, the simulation needs to both have our information stored, and be running.

>For matter to exist, it's information merely needs to be stored.

wtf did i just type?


Be it artificially simulated or not, the whole universe is pure information, in any way you look at it.
The universe advances this information, or at least gives that illusion as our consciousness works as a time "differential", for lack of a better word.

Maybe it's a computer processing it, maybe it's a fixed mathematical structure where we "feel" like time passes. In this case, it sounds like every possible, self-consist structure could exist (id, different universe, even with different physics or however you want to call it).

As for consciousness, I find it difficult to believe it's anything other than something emerging from the coherent flux of information of our brain.
I think that any form of self-organising information that simulates an "experience" (eg, our brain's thought processes that simulating a view of the world, etc) will "feel".
Any idea we currently have of an AI is just an automated process. But when/if an incredibly complex organism is programmed, an amazing network of information that interacts with itself, no matter its platform (biological, electronic, quantum), then the process will "feel".
Consciousness is just a zone of the universe when information self-organises. The only reason we, as people, don't "feel" each other is because we are like oasis of coherence/disentropy, and our information is not connected. That is, our brains only interact with each other in incoherent ways, like gravity and electromagnetism. There is no '''significant''' coherent transmitting of information, if any at all could be said to exist by some twisted way.

For example, this is why sometimes when people develop some strange brain damage it happens that they can navigate spaces (walk around without hitting stuff) or pick objects, but cannot see at all; they are blind, they see black. Even when those parts of the brain work (as they can tell themselves, because they can perform tasks) their conscious experience is physically curtailed by physical wounds. That is, they experience blindness because that information, although processed, is detached from the "soul" that emerges in another part of the brain (which IS connected to the speech part, so we can hear them say they are blind).

I don't think there's a limit to what can be simulated, so might as well be. If so, we are so insignificant it's incredibly unlikely our processors would single me in particular and introduce into my simulation some sort of communication with me or whatever. I'm another grain of salt who whoever runs this have no special interest in. If this simulation has a purpose, it probably isn't life itself, but rather it's a byproduct. So I'm completely sure that I'll die with no God nor computer scientist will ever alter my life experience as to know which one is it, because one doesn't exist, the other one doesn't give a fuck, and in the case no one created this, then of course no one is going to contact me.

So this question's interest just fades, and come back from time to time, and I'm sure I'll be simulated until I die and never know it.


> self-consist structure
*self-consistent, as in "structures without internal logical paradoxes"


>a fair bit of the behaviour of quantum particles suggests optimization, at least in my opinion.
Don't forget that the speed of light is actually an upper limit to the speed at which the fields interact, that is, at which information is transmited.

Light moves at this speed merely because it's a phenomenon of pure information: the electric and magnetic fields interacting with each other.

Point is, having a speed (that is a geometric restriction in spacetime) at which information can influence each other sounds like the best optimization


>if you consider a wave easier to "render" than a "wave" actually composed of very many particles. They only act as particles when they are observed, i.e. when it is "necessary"
I always thought quatum "uncertainty" might be an optimization, but i never thought about the particle/wave duality that way.

But that being said, waves are not many particles. Water waves are, but they are of a different nature, because it reproduces the same sinusoidal pattern when you do the math.

On the contrary, it might work better with the simulation op theory: waves are vectorial information
In vector graphics, when it needs to be rendered (for immediate displaying it on the monitor) it needs to be rasterized.
Maybe there are things where the interaction requires particles, and until then they are "saved" as wave vectors as long as they aren't needed for that type of interaction


i can think of some other refutations:

4. the universe is not simulate-able

i like this one because it ties in nicely with questions of free will. if it were possible to simulate our universe, than this would seem to imply that our actions are dictated entirely by some cosmic function. maybe it is, but the probability argument takes this for granted. it only makes sense if you're already a strict materialist. i view the mind as something that emerges from physical interactions, but cannot necessarily be described mathematically.

5. the distinction between "simulation" and "reality" does not meaningfully exist, so saying "we live in a simulation" is tautological.

what defines a simulation? pick your criteria. as >>1483 pointed out, mathematical functions exist whether or not you are aware of them. there is no difference between an "artificial" expression of a given universe function and a "synthetic" one.

also, my probability is a bit rusty, but i'm not sure you can say that the set of all possible organic universes has a strictly greater cardinality than the set of all possible universes created within another universe. my intuition says they'd both be uncountable infinites so the limit trick used in the probability argument doesn't work. correct me if i'm wrong though.


>does the simulation have to be run for us to "exist"
This is what I meant to adress on >>1558 when I said "any self-consist structure".

That would mean, any spacetime/particles arrengement that well-behaves according to some laws of physics.
Here I understand the laws of physics as nothing but a relationship between the information of the universe.

That way, that "spacetime/particles arrengement" would be just a complicated function, existing by itself and not necessarily being computed.
Universes are just valid solutions to the complex set of differential equations that is physics

This could imply something interesting:
You know the whole "muh uncertainty created multiple universes" thing?
It could very well be.
Maybe that for every POSSIBLE result or turn out of an event, there exists a universe/function where it happens, just because it can. That is, if a universe/function where the event happens is a valid solution for the laws of physics, then it exists.

So all possible outcomes exist even before the event presents itself.
We just don't know in which universe we are until it is shown to us.


I think I agree partially with >>114
though for slightly different reasons.

Basically: the one civilization we know of that's even close to technical maturity (ours) has not successfully created simulations of sufficient depths to (as far as anyone knows) house consciousness.

So it seems weird to act like creating simulations with this kind of depth must be a common thing across civilisations.

My other argument I imagine is much less popular in forums like this, and kind of hard to have a discussion about, I think, but I'm also very dubious that simulated consciousnesses would be conscious in the way that we are. (I.e., that they would have subjective experience of their simulated world).

I don't think it's _false_, but these discussions always seem to take it for granted that of course they would.


I see no reason to assume that because reality is perfectly simulated, the simulation would be perfect. This might seem like a small distinction at first - no matter what we do, it will be simulated to an accurate and precise outcome - but it could hold more meaningful implications, such as being able to see into the next higher simulation. I personally don't believe in a perfect simulation or a perfectly responsive simulation for reasons I'll explain later.

Imagine that we are living in a purely digital simulation. It makes little sense, except from a security standpoint, to have all hardware be totally dedicated to the simulation itself. One must still output data for analysis, or otherwise view a representation of the simulation. Otherwise the entire project is pointlessly simulating something that no entity will ever observe. This opens a path into other computers, much like a video game might have glitches. There are no perfect programs right now, why would we assume any exist on a much larger scale with far greater complexity? There is almost certainly a gap in the simulation's security and that gap could potentially be exploited. Of course, according to the argument, it is infinitely likely that the reality we "break into" would also be a simulation, and so on and so forth.

Here's why I don't think that works: a perfect simulation must simulate every interaction between all matter and energy simultaneously. Not necessarily in real time, but that doesn't matter. The simulation must itself be capable of recursively running copies of itself, indefinitely, in order to be considered a perfect simulation. This cannot obey known laws of physics, and would probably break quite a few laws if it somehow happened.

But maybe our simulation plays by different rules. Maybe our simulation is the lowest, or a simulation which has some artificial restriction on creating simulations.


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I don't understand what consciousness outside a computer even means
I'm my mind, and my mind is my brain

I can't accept another valid definition of consciousness other than something that refers to thought processes, ie computation.

I firmly believe that a computer able to recreate a human brain process, it's emotional responses, etc, even if digitally instead of electro-chemically, where endorphin cascades would just be a mere formality but affects the thought process in the same way, then yes, that computer feels like a human

of course, there is a huge physical impossiblitiy of US creating such a thing realistically, but that's just a technical and engineering problem
In abstract, it would be a consciousness


I don't know that we can say that we have any idea of our own society's technological maturity. There could very well be untold depths of computation and math that we've yet to discover.

At the end of the 19th century physics was 'solved', we had 'most' of the equations and there were only a few kinks to iron out, like gravity not working exactly as predicted and electrons behaving weirdly. Those two kinks snowballed into all of modern physics (more or less). Another example would be Godel's Incompleteness theorem, which (at least from my incredibly limited understanding) pulled the rug out under natural number theory which had just been thoroughly defined and thought to be complete (Not every true statement about naturals could be proven in that framework, and no sufficiently complicated framework could achieve this I think…). Someone correct me if I'm wrong. There are other examples across the history of science in any long-studied subject.

Not that I'm saying that simulations on the universal scale are possible just tat we can't use our own computational powers as a benchmark.

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