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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Are We Living In A Computer Simulation?

I have to admit that Nick Bostrom's paper on whether we are living in a computer simulation or not is not really about whether we are living in a computer simulation or not.

I mean, I like the paper, only most people seem to give it a meaning and an importance which it does not seem to merit.
It is about 3 statements and the probability of each under various major-type assumptions.
It is logic and probability and deduction.

There is no real Ontological Commitment; i.e., a statement that such simulations really do exist.
The best we can get is that one of the statements must be true, one of which is that we are living in a computer simulation. Even so, because a statement is necessarily true in a Logic, that need not carry over into Being.
We like to think it does, because that is a fine bit of housekeeping, and a job well done, and God is in His heaven, and all is right with the world...
There's some nice logic, and that is no small bit of genius. We need not extend the thing to greater issue.

Anyway, Mr. Bostrom's speaks of the finely-grained computer simulations of the possible futures, finely-grained meaning that the detail is almost of the infinity that we perceive our lives to be: an endless ladder from immense island universes to smaller and smaller particles, and energies that constrain and release on cue, without some gaffe-stop-action of lost seconds of feed due to a slow down in the flow of visual data.

Which brought to mind the fact that we already have good examples of simulations of large numbers of lives, only in a coarse-grained manner:

the marginalized!

the homeless! the displaced! the refugees! ......  the victims!

I mean, the detail of their simulated lives is in no way sufficiently fine as to make us feel their anguish, is it?
Their pain and suffering is more iconic, I'd say, rather than immediate.

And I suppose this is what Mitt Romney was talking about when he did cleave a line in society; he thought in terms of the finely-grained simulations versus those coarsely-grained ones, who - really, we must admit - are just too poorly rendered that we may feel compassion for them.

They are more like stick figures.

Tragic stick figures, granted, but stick figures no less.

Not quite Emoticons....
More like Schmo-ticons

Mr. Bostrom does not say one of the three statements must be true, merely that it is highly likely to be true.
My gaffe... but also a gaff to skewer philosophical... stuff.


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