Is it possible that we are not real and don't even know it?


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/21/is-it-possible-that-we-are-not.html


#2


#3

With the same level of logic, advanced civilizations tend to make tacos, so there are a lot of tacos, so there’s a good chance that you are a taco whether or not you know it.


#4

I’ve heard that the original script had the machines using the humans as a computational resource – which makes more sense than the battery nonsense in the finished film.


#5

With statistics, you can manipulate reality to conform to your every whim!


#6

Look for the butt manifestations.


#7

I’m simulated as a motherfucker.


#8

Seems like they are just getting confused by Xeno’s paradox. It is about limits and first-semester calculus. You can have a process that increases monotonically forever yet asymptotes, or a probabilistic process that converges to 0.


#9

There seem to be many posts on BB concerning whether or not a given thing is “real”, but hardly anybody bothers to first establish whatever they mean by “real”. IMO without getting more specific, it tends to be a meaningless question. My flippant answer tends to be: “It’s all real, baby!” (in a seductive voice). If you can refer to a thing, then it automatically has some kind of existence. The significant question is not whether or not a thing is real, but rather do you know what that thing actually is. And what it is is almost always what it does. Or, alternately, what you do as you use it to represent something else.

The ways I encounter “real” commonly used seem to beg the conflation of matters of existence with those of authenticity. Without more precision this tends to leave most people a bit ontologically confused, yet unwilling to do anything about it.


#10

What if…bear with me…the simulators are just simulations in an even awesomer universe. And, what if. They. Are. Simulations. In. An. Even. Even. Awesomerer. Universe.

Boom! Mind blown.


#11

Mental masturbation.

There is only one practical application. Suppose I want to do something perfectly awful, like take away everybody’s health care and get rich in the process. If this is all just a simulation, all those “people” don’t really exist, right? I guess I don’t either, so why not?


#12

A socially advanced civilisation would have some restriction on creating consciousness just for simulation purposes. Experiments of the sort where the experimenter pours 7 billion (or maybe just 150) consciousnesses into a simulated environment just to see what happens would not be passed by an ethics committee. Technologically advanced civilisations that don’t have ethics committees or the equivalent are virtually guaranteed to end prematurely.

(…And I have the simulations to prove it!)


#13

The ethical implications on existing within the simulated world don’t change the importance of the actions taken inside said simulation unless the simulation is broken and are actually no longer contained in said simulation. Your argument sounds much like that of, if atheists don’t believe in God, how can they be trusted to not go around killing and raping all over the place.

I do think existing in a complex simulation does raise some interesting moral possibilities though. For example, complexity analysis implies that certain things cannot be simulated without non-scalable computing power. Being able to reduce this, if it’s not already reduced in some higher plane of existence, would kind of be like outsmarting your gods, and being the simulations singularity.


#14

Yeah, that always bothered me. You can’t get more energy out of a human than it would take to keep them alive; I’m sure the efficiency would be very low.


#15

We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?
– Project PYRRHO, Specimen 46, Vat 7. Activity recorded M.Y. 2302.22467. (TERMINATION OF SPECIMEN ADVISED)

(From Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, obviously.)


#16

It makes perfect sense if you truly understand real world physics.

We all learned physics in the Matrix.


#17

What really chaps my hide are all the movements to break the simulation if we are in one.

HEY, PEOPLE, THAT’S WHERE I KEEP ALL MY STUFF. Also, me.


#18

Exactly. Everything that is, is real.

Also, my first thought on reading the title of the post wasn’t simulation, it was thermodynamics/arrow of time/Boltzmann brain. Meaning: a low entropy world is unlikely, an even lower entropy world in the distant past is even more likely, so there is at least a somewhat decent argument to be made that it is much more likely that I am a spontaneous momentary Boltzmann brain in an otherwise maximum-entropy world with memories of evidence of a past (of any kind) and of an external world (of any kind), than that a lower-entropy pas and vast universe actually exist.

@Nelsie: This assumes all 7 billion humans are simulated in enough detail to count as conscious according to the simulators’ definition of the term (Edit to add: Nelsie already addressed this in the original comment, and I just missed it), and that their suffering sufficiently outweighs positive aspects of their and everyone else’s existence to prevent the simulation being done, and that everyone follows ethical rules that exist.

See also, for those inclined to think about weird hypotheses about the universe: The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover


#19

This doesn’t answer any questions, it just moves it’s location.
Are the turtles that are running our simulation simulated themselves?
All the way down.


#20

That’s why I parenthetically wrote “or 150”. Maybe it’s just you and your Dunbar’s number of friends and associates. Still too many for an ethics committee to pass, though, I think.