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Simulation Argument
Posted: 10 October 2011 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 10 October 2011 01:19 PM

I agree.  However, that does not rule out existence outside of experience; just the hope of one having an idea about such a thing.

Well yeah, but that’s not something Hume could say since by his lights he couldn’t have an idea about it, and without an idea about it he couldn’t even conceive of it.

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Posted: 10 October 2011 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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Alexander80 - 08 October 2011 02:10 PM

Thats why I asked the question again, cause they would not be the object of deception, wouldnt they get clues, like things not working in synchronity, information of the material brains and the surrounding for example.
Not everything would work in exact synchronity, right?
in the 3d Space you could have influences of particles/energy from many angles at the same time, this wouldnt work that well in a computer environment which would have to store, move massiv ammounts of data and do calculations which, unlike the real 3d world, are not in such vincinity, cause you would have to connect different Blocks of Data carriers.
Like there you have all you need to create joe Smith on RAM sector A do you move this Data to RAM B if he moves to tokio (if tokio is generated with data from B) or do you simply make some sort of short cut?

It really depends on how well the simulation is constructed, if constructed imperfectly and we don’t permit error correction then yes there would obviously be errors/bugs of some form that observers within the simulation might be able to notice. But if it is well constructed then there should be no observable errors, those within the simulation have no concept of the external time in which the simulation is being run, their perception would simply be a series of mental states updated by the program running the simulation so it shouldn’t matter where data structures are physically located or the amount of external time it takes to calculate the new state of each portion of the simulation.

If my simulation is comprised of a series of objects in motion plus an observer, then the program just calculates the new position of each object based on the laws of physics and the new mental state of the observer and updates the simulation for each increment in time. The observer doesn’t see each object being updated individually.

By the way people run simulations of physics in 3D all the time, there isn’t any great problem due to the number of spatial dimensions e.g. the Millennium Run simulating the large scale evolution of structure within the universe.

In such a case a Simulation would produce more Information then the real 3d world (short cuts and transfers), the whole thing would start to lag in some parts, am I right?

Yes, but that’s because you aren’t allowing deceptive techniques to be implemented in the simulation so the simulation must be faithful at all scales everywhere. The whole point of a simulation is to cut the unnecessary detail not pertinent to the scale of investigation.

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Posted: 10 October 2011 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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This is the Point, i think.
I don’t think it would be convincing to work with such minimalism, to just simulate brains or a single planet, there would be a lack of information which would affect the whole thing if it is not causal and universal.

I would not think it would be all about us, space doesn’t look like some sort of Wallpaper.

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Posted: 10 October 2011 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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For a self sustaining system, you will need to simulate a dynamic space/time,  a self sustaining spacetime matrix with attendant universals and elementary particles which then provide matter and energy for a dynamic sunchronized environment within which things can work the way they do.
Without a matrix, physical objects would not function they way we have observed. How can one simulate gravity without physical objects?  How does one create matter without elements?
IMO, it would take another BB to create the required energy and elementary particles. Thus simulating (copying) an entire universe is practically impossible. Then, if we were to try and create a “little” universe, how do you physically fit it in existing spacetime?
No matter how, there must be a mechanism for an evolutionary progression. Again, IMO, that is a physical and energetic impossibility.

I believe that the answer to the question is a resounding: No!    We can make simulations of people, things, even an environment, but there is no way to create matter, energy, and life other than as it does in reality.
You can’t fool (escape) Mother Nature (natural laws).... cheese

[ Edited: 10 October 2011 03:09 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 10 October 2011 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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Otis,
It really depends on how well the simulation is constructed, if constructed imperfectly and we don’t permit error correction then yes there would obviously be errors/bugs of some form that observers within the simulation might be able to notice. But if it is well constructed then there should be no observable errors, those within the simulation have no concept of the external time in which the simulation is being run, their perception would simply be a series of mental states updated by the program running the simulation so it shouldn’t matter where data structures are physically located or the amount of external time it takes to calculate the new state of each portion of the simulation.

So the simulated reality would employ quantum “updates” (scene changes)? How much time would lapse before the next quantum update?
I still see the coffeedrinker, drinking from a cup which never empties, until the next update, where the cup would be empty. Then what does the coffeedrinker do?

I have “lived” in sophisticated simulated 3D environments for many years. “Virtual Worlds” and “Moove” are great playgrounds. The problem is if the “operator” does not direct the “actors”, everything stops. How do you simulate desire and motive in a simulation?
The problem lies in assigning some form of sentience to the inhabitants of the simulation.

[ Edited: 10 October 2011 03:30 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 10 October 2011 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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Write4U

You are misunderstanding what a simulation is. A simulation is a, not necessarily faithful, representation of one system in another, in this case on some unknown future computer. A simulation of the sort discussed in the SA is extremely non-faithful i.e. the number of bits and operations required to describe the simulated universe is much, much less than the actual universe, the simulation is much, much less complex than the real thing. The important point is that small scale properties aren’t necessarily apparent at large scale and thus can be described effectively by less complex approximate models that capture the pertinent large scale detail. For instance, in the case of quantum physics we can replace it with classical physics and we can replace General Relativity with Newton’s laws, because at the energy/scale regime of everyday human experience quantum physics and GR simply aren’t necessary. In a simulation of the sort discussed in the SA all we are interested in is what is necessary to simulate human perception, so detail beyond this is unnecessary. Alexander mentions that space doesn’t look like wallpaper, but our everyday observation of space is limited by what we can resolve by sight, we do not see anywhere near the full detail, so describing our perception of space as like wallpaper isn’t actually a bad description in the grand scheme of things. The line of argument that says such simulations are an impossibility is not particularly worthwhile, as we are ignorant of what precisely constitutes human perception i.e. the number of bits and operations that would be required to simulate it fully, but we do know that it must be far less than the number of bits and operations that constitute the entire universe because we are a very small, finite portion of that universe.

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Posted: 10 October 2011 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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I understand what you are saying. In another thread I posited that, given enough time, a “learning” AI could possible acquire a form of sentience itself as an entity.
But how do you populate a simulation with AI “persons”, animals, flora.  You say we need only a small, finite portion of the universe (say a living room), but do we have any idea of how much information that is?
And the overriding question remains, other than the most rudimentary programmed movement and actions, how do you program voluntary movement and actions in a simulated continuum?  Would anyone dream of exploring space?  Would there be physics, art, manufacturing and exchanging of goods and labor, any kind of natural evolution? If we must compromise on all those facets of Reality, what is left?  What would be reason for living? 

To even simulate a simple ant-farm where ant behavior could be programmed (queen, worker, soldier), it could never be self sustaining without external assistance.  As Huxley said, “everything is connected to everything”, you cannot create shortcuts without disturbing the entire function of the universe at any level of sophistication.

[ Edited: 10 October 2011 05:50 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 10 October 2011 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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Write4U - 10 October 2011 05:43 PM

I understand what you are saying. In another thread I posited that, given enough time, a “learning” AI could possible acquire a form of sentience itself as an entity.
But how do you populate a simulation with AI “persons”, animals, flora.

I’m not sure why you’re having trouble with this, the only notional difference between simulations that we run now, say the Millennium Run simulation that I linked to earlier, and an ancestor simulation is the order of complexity. There isn’t any problem with populating a simulation with numerous dynamical objects described by bits and operations, we do it all the time.

You say we need only a small, finite portion of the universe (say a living room), but do we have any idea of how much information that is?

I make no claim as to how many bits and operations would be needed to produce a simulation of human perception, I’ll leave that to Bostrom. As to how much information there is in a finite portion of the universe, the Bekenstein bound was mentioned earlier on the thread, this is an upper limit on the entropy/information that can be contained within a finite volume of finite energy. Remember that this is an upper limit that describes the thing at all scales, so not just the behaviour of atoms/molecules but also the internals of the nucleons etc.

And the overriding question remains, other than the most rudimentary programmed movement and actions, how do you program voluntary movement and actions in a simulated continuum?

You might find this video of the LittleDog robot interesting, it is an autonomous robot. There is nothing to stop it being implemented in a simulated environment. If you know python you could use the PyBrain module and play with machine learning and simple simulated physical environments yourself.

Would anyone dream of exploring space?  Would there be physics, art, manufacturing and exchanging of goods and labor, any kind of natural evolution? If we must compromise on all those facets of Reality, what is left?  What would be reason for living?

Obviously there would be physics in a simulation, it would be programmed in from the outset and so be there for any observer within the simulation to investigate. Everything else you note is contingent on the ability to simulate human cognition, which as I have said is an open question that neither you nor I know the answer to.

To even simulate a simple ant-farm where ant behavior could be programmed (queen, worker, soldier), it could never be self sustaining without external assistance.  As Huxley said, “everything is connected to everything”, you cannot create shortcuts without disturbing the entire function of the universe at any level of sophistication.

What precisely do you mean? If I implement a simple simulation of numerous particles in a bounded two-dimensional box, apply simple Newtonian physics to permit collisions, provide initial conditions and then let it run, it wouldn’t need any external assistance to continue. Obviously the computer it runs on has energy requirements and this is a limiting factor in any simulation, but it doesn’t mean that simulations of the type discussed in the SA are impossible.

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Posted: 10 October 2011 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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Well, theoretically one can describe such an environment, but how does one simulate a particle without its sub-atomic parts. How do you simulate an element like water without an H molecule? It would have no properties (potential) and would not continue on its own, let alone interact.
I wonder how much programming and tweaking the beetle

By reducing any of these fundamental building blocks of reality you cannot simulate any kind of natural behavior. The beetle is an interesting artifact, but can it mate? You cannot simulate the natural processes except in a most rudimentary fashion and in doing so you are only creating an superficial cumputerized (electronic) environment, completely dependent on outside instructions.

The Beetle is impressive, as is Watson. But can they be called simulations?  In effect the Beetle is a sophisticated vehicle able to navigate terrain, but autonomous? From what does it derive power? Couldn’t be solar, because then you’d have to create a simulation of the sun. Watson is a sophisticated search engine but does not provide answers unless asked. It is far from any kind of sentiency.

Any simulation would be no more than a theme park where a series of movements are repeated over and over again. To a sentient inhabitant it would be an eternity of “Groundhog Days”.  And any change or evolution of this environment would have to be deterministic i.e. in accordance with the laws of nature. Everything would need to be preprogrammed but here we run into the limitations of memory space. But shortcuts or any kind of randomness would be fatal.

IMO, it shows the limitation in the god argument. Physical reality started at the elemental level, everything we see and experience is a result of billions of years of particle interactions, i.e. a dynamic, evolving environment.  Unless one can create a dynamic self regulating environment, simulations can have existence, but only in the most rudimentary forms (which is already very complex)

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Posted: 12 October 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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You still don’t seem to understand. Do you perceive the individual particles that make up everyday objects, do you see chemical interactions at the level of atoms and molecules? No you don’t, you see none of this, what you perceive is a very, very approximate model of reality. The premiss of the SA, that at the energy/scale regime of everyday perception approximate models of physics should be sufficient to simulate human perception, is not at all unreasonable.

On determinism, take the example of Conway’s Game of Life, it is fully deterministic but still shows the emergence of complexity from simple rules. It is manifestly not a simple series of repeated events that have been explicitly preprogrammed.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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Otis - 12 October 2011 02:01 PM

You still don’t seem to understand. Do you perceive the individual particles that make up everyday objects, do you see chemical interactions at the level of atoms and molecules? No you don’t, you see none of this, what you perceive is a very, very approximate model of reality. The premiss of the SA, that at the energy/scale regime of everyday perception approximate models of physics should be sufficient to simulate human perception, is not at all unreasonable.

On determinism, take the example of Conway’s Game of Life, it is fully deterministic but still shows the emergence of complexity from simple rules. It is manifestly not a simple series of repeated events that have been explicitly preprogrammed.

The only problem I have is where you place this simulation in relation to living things. If the simulation is wholly simulated, including creatures, you do indeed have a created a seperate construct. But there are problems with this.

a) How would we know (as observer) if the simulated creatures are sentient and having a sense of experiencing Reality within the simulation.

b) How can we physically insert ourselves into a simulation. We would always know and be able to prove it is just a simulation.

c) If the simulation is generated within the computer and somehow projected into actual reality how do you simulate matter.

d) If there is no sentience in the simulated reality, it is not a reality. It is an artificial construct.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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a) Observe the interaction of the creatures with their environment, the same as you or I do in this world? If we observe characteristics that correlate to human behaviour then it is reasonable to suppose that they are sentient and experience their reality in a similar way to us.
b) The SA isn’t talking about inserting ourselves into these simulations.
c) A simulation would not be ‘projected’ into actual reality, that doesn’t even make notional sense. A simulation would just be a series of states computed on a computer.
d) It is already an artificial construct by definition so the conditional proposition and conclusion are redundant. Not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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W4U does not seem to understand what a computer simulation is. W4U, look at the wiki for artificial life I linked earlier to get an idea.

re: Otis, how can the SA only require simulation of phenomena at the human level of perception when in actuality we can observe lower levels of phenomena like atoms and quarks?

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Posted: 12 October 2011 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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domokato - 12 October 2011 05:41 PM

Otis, how can the SA only require simulation of phenomena at the human level of perception when in actuality we can observe lower levels of phenomena like atoms and quarks?

It’s a sceptical argument, the idea is that if something isn’t directly observed then it isn’t necessary to implement it. Neither you nor I directly observe atoms or quarks, but if we were to perform some experiment that investigated these scales then QM/QFT would be implemented in the region of the experiment, at all other times the approximate implementation is sufficient.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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domokato - 12 October 2011 05:41 PM

W4U does not seem to understand what a computer simulation is. W4U, look at the wiki for artificial life I linked earlier to get an idea.

re: Otis, how can the SA only require simulation of phenomena at the human level of perception when in actuality we can observe lower levels of phenomena like atoms and quarks?

Actually you are asking the same thing as I am.

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