Monday, June 26, 2017

The Sims

Nope sorry not the game, some philosophy I've mulled over for a while.
So the Simulation argument is an interesting one to be sure, but absurd really.I recently heard the counter summed up very well;

"A simulation so convincing that is indistinguishable from reality is, for all practical purposes, reality to those that have consciousness in such a simulation. Besides, what would a simulated consciousness have to compare except perhaps a simulation that it constructed with its own  conscious "inhabitants"? Its an infinite regression." - Facebook quote

My other issue with it, is it is likely that it can never be disproved, which simply makes it a bad hypothesis at best. The reason it can't be disproved it usually put thus; if we can make a simulation that has conscious minds in it, then we are not the bottom, we could be the top, but are likely not. If we can't then we are likely the bottom. It is only really disproved on humanities demise or on our technical epitome minus consciousness creating simulations.

Another issue I have with it, is something I also like about it. The Post-hoc evidence that people "find" to prove that we live in a simulation. I like this as I can add to it and chuckle at the outcome. Things like if you have a simulation you would want to limit the processing power required, so you'd put in certain limits... like the speed of light (and information travel) being finite, or the other seemingly immutable laws. You'd have a simulation that would have a defined bit density (resolution), so the whole simulation could be stored in x number of bits... well we have that with the plank length/time being the smallest possible unit of space-time.

Regardless, I like playing around with the idea. Recently I saw the Doctor who episode  Extremis (Spoilers to follow).
Extermis is actually part of the overall story arc. Essentially revolves around the Doctor discovering he is in an Alien simulation of our universe as a way to model an easy way to take over the world. The Doctor determines he is a sub-routine and emails his findings out of the system (somehow) out to the real world and the real Doctor.

Incredibly interesting idea, each human consciousness being a subroutine. Sub-routines interact with other sub routines, but can also cause others to crash if they do the right thing. Heck a single subroutine given the right vulnerability could cause the whole OS (universe in this analogy) to crash out... fun. I guess this is basically the story of the Matrix trilogy, he's a subroutine that somehow gets super-user powers, not quite root though :)

To continue with the aforementioned post-hoc evidence for living in a simulation, I even thought of a few while writing this. You'd want your subroutines to consume the smallest amount of resources to do the job they needed to, ala you'd make consciousness occasionally stop for some period (aka sleep and varying levels of sub-conscious action), heck you might even make beings with consciousness that acts on cycles.

The other interesting thing I thought on from the Doctor Who episode Extermis, was the way they eventually determined they were in a simulation. The episode goes that a philosopher in ancient times worked out they where in a simulation by writing down some random numbers, then asking someone else to write down some numbers without seeing the list he wrote. The lists where the same. The tome this philosopher wrote was secreted away in the Vatican, as all who read it promptly commited suicide... I don't know why the committed suicide, as mentioned in my quote at the start if it feels real and you know no different, then it is real.
The Doctor explains the determination that they are in a simulation by saying, computers are generally bad at random number generation so over enough time subroutines such as these conscious ones will generate the same list of random numbers... like humans do now.

Humans are generally terrible at random generation of data, especially passwords. With something like the top few million password being used by 95% of people... So, perhaps we are living in a simulation and those with poor passwords are the subroutines given the least amount of CPU and RAM... the rest of us, might be given slightly more.
Now how do I perform some buffer overflow to get me more money :P

Peace out all, especially our future selves simulating this jalopy, or some Alien race that inadvertently simulated us when the main sim is happening light years away.

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