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Thread: Argument from possible simulation

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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist View Post
    So according to that definition does a dreaming person have "awareness"?
    This has been tested. Neurons studied during dreams and awareness. The same neurons activate when seeing red as when dreaming red.
    In awareness the imagination is corrected to match reality. Sometimes errors are made as in optical illusions and hallucinations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    How do you know you/I would be definitely aware if this isn't a simulation? I think the answer is that we have the sensation of awareness and qualia. If we hallucinate then the contents of the awareness is a delusion but I'd still say it involves the sensation of awareness.
    I think that Descartes was on to something about fundamental knowledge. Assuming we are not in a simulation (or a similar situation), but acknowledging that we can't truly verify anything we seem to experience as being objectively "real", I think one can conclude that something exists - that something is being experienced (regardless of whether it reflects an objective reality or not).

    However, as I've mentioned in one of my central points before, if we don't assume we're not in a simulation, then even the apparent sensation of awareness could be an illusion. Don't ask me to explain how that could be so - I can't even imagine what that would entail - but I see no reason to exclude it from the list of things to doubt.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    How can you be sure our possible non-simulation universe doesn't also involve unknowable elements (like the invisible pink unicorn) that also somehow make the sensation of awareness not real?
    I can't be sure. I think radical skeptics are in an unassailable position in believing that knowledge is likely impossible. However, a practicing adherent to this philosophy would be like the narrator in the old Tootsie Pop commercials. All they could say is "the world may never know." Of course, this wouldn't help them navigate or consider or converse about the apparent universe we live in. Unless one is satisfied with laying face down in a puddle, one has to assume some fundamental axioms to sidestep the unknowable nature of reality.

    While the adoption of unfounded (or at least unprovable) tenets may seem like a cop out, in this case it's a bit different than other excuses for ignoring facts (or in this case, a lack thereof). Typically, one avoids disagreeable facts in order to avoid some effort. Here, avoiding the fact that knowledge may be impossible is the only way to justify any effort whatsoever. If nothing is knowable, then what's the point of talking about or doing anything? We must assume some things are knowable to some extent in order to meaningfully and coherently deal with our apparent experiences.

    All of our "knowledge" is based on a foundation of these axioms. These axioms establish how things like mathematics and logic work. They create frameworks for drawing further conclusions. These fundaments could be wrong, but without them we're rendered utterly impotent.

    If we assume we can know nothing (as is done by assuming we could be in a simulation), then everything after that point is utterly moot.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    BTW do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
    - Boltzmann brain
    - a brain in a vat
    - a dreaming human
    I suspect they would. In fact, while I won't argue to support my vague suspicions here, I can't help but wonder if some version of panpsychism is true and that any configuration of matter equipped with sensory devices and some approximation of a nervous system (such as a computer) might have the sensation of awareness. But that's a totally different topic of discussion and absolutely requires the assumption that we are not utterly deceived by a simulation.

  3. Top | #163
    Veteran Member excreationist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    BTW do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
    - Boltzmann brain
    - a brain in a vat
    - a dreaming human
    I suspect they would.
    Well a brain in a vat involves a simulation... so you're saying that that kind of simulation would involve the sensation of awareness....
    In fact, while I won't argue to support my vague suspicions here, I can't help but wonder if some version of panpsychism is true and that any configuration of matter equipped with sensory devices and some approximation of a nervous system (such as a computer) might have the sensation of awareness.
    I think that can also involve "functionalism". So then a simulation that involves a simulated brain could also involve the sensation of awareness?
    ....If we assume we can know nothing (as is done by assuming we could be in a simulation), then everything after that point is utterly moot....
    I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...

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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    Well a brain in a vat involves a simulation... so you're saying that that kind of simulation would involve the sensation of awareness....
    If our world is anything like we think it is, then yes, I think a brain in a vat could have the sensation of being aware. That assumes that our general understanding of the world isn't a total illusion.

    However, that's not at all what this thread is about. It's about your original argument, the first premise of which is that we could be in a simulation.

    If we accept that premise, then we have to admit we can't know anything about a possible outside world. Also, we have to admit that everything we think we know about our world could be totally wrong.

    As I've mentioned numerous times already, if we accept the premise that we could be in a simulation then every subsequent premise and inference can be rejected on the basis that it may be a deception caused by the simulation.

    Can you conceive of a statement or conclusion that isn't countered by invoking your first premise, "It's possible we're in a simulation"? I daresay you cannot.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    I think that can also involve "functionalism". So then a simulation that involves a simulated brain could also involve the sensation of awareness?
    I was just musing on the subject of awareness in the context of my understanding of the world, which is predicated in part on the assumption that my experiences are not totally illusory - that we are not just part of a simulation.

    If, for the sake of argument (which is a bit ironic because it forestalls any meaningful arguments), we assume that we could be in a simulation - that everything we appear to experience could be a delusion - then we can't talk about simulations or functionalism or anything else, because we have to question the apparent beliefs and observations that underly them.

    We can't have it both ways. We can't refer to concepts that depend on knowledge being possible when discussing a universe where knowledge is impossible. If one assumes that our experience could be simulated, wholly fabricated and divorced from a "real" external world, then one cannot use anything from the supposedly simulated world to determine anything about the "real" one.

    I feel like this is the sticking point that you have yet to acknowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...
    It seems that you are confusing questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be possible to some extent with questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be utterly impossible (i.e. a world where we are in a simulation).

    It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

    I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

    Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    .......It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

    I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

    Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?
    Ok if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc, but I think it is quite likely that it would have an intelligent creator and that I am having the sensation of awareness (rather than being a philosophical zombie), etc. If I am experiencing what I am experiencing now and I am in a random reality and it is simulated I think it is quite likely that there is an intelligent creator. That is based on the reasoning that it makes sense for a simulation to have an intelligent creator such as a post-human or an AI, etc, rather than it coming about by chance (like a Boltzmann brain), etc.

  6. Top | #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    If our world is anything like we think it is, then yes, I think a brain in a vat could have the sensation of being aware. That assumes that our general understanding of the world isn't a total illusion.

    However, that's not at all what this thread is about. It's about your original argument, the first premise of which is that we could be in a simulation.

    If we accept that premise, then we have to admit we can't know anything about a possible outside world. Also, we have to admit that everything we think we know about our world could be totally wrong.

    As I've mentioned numerous times already, if we accept the premise that we could be in a simulation then every subsequent premise and inference can be rejected on the basis that it may be a deception caused by the simulation.

    Can you conceive of a statement or conclusion that isn't countered by invoking your first premise, "It's possible we're in a simulation"? I daresay you cannot.


    I was just musing on the subject of awareness in the context of my understanding of the world, which is predicated in part on the assumption that my experiences are not totally illusory - that we are not just part of a simulation.

    If, for the sake of argument (which is a bit ironic because it forestalls any meaningful arguments), we assume that we could be in a simulation - that everything we appear to experience could be a delusion - then we can't talk about simulations or functionalism or anything else, because we have to question the apparent beliefs and observations that underly them.

    We can't have it both ways. We can't refer to concepts that depend on knowledge being possible when discussing a universe where knowledge is impossible. If one assumes that our experience could be simulated, wholly fabricated and divorced from a "real" external world, then one cannot use anything from the supposedly simulated world to determine anything about the "real" one.

    I feel like this is the sticking point that you have yet to acknowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...
    It seems that you are confusing questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be possible to some extent with questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be utterly impossible (i.e. a world where we are in a simulation).

    It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

    I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

    Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?
    So, would you not think a brain in a vat composed of neurons made of balanced charges of in semiconductors that generate output potentials is less aware than a brain in a vat composed of neurons of balanced charges that trigger chemical thresholds?

    You experience the same universe regardless of the implementation, and the implementation seems at least plausible as the basic platform of that experience, without special consideration. The simulation is describing the whole brain in a way that brain may be modified, unless you want to claim neurosurgery isn't real.

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    connick

    I think I've got a solution to your issues...

    I could modify the first premise:

    It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.

  8. Top | #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist View Post
    It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.
    Okay, I have not read every post in this thread, but I have a question about ^that.

    Why "in" a simulation? Would we not be part of the simulation? Or are you proposing that our "us-ness" is a durable (non-simulated) object that is external to the simulation? IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?

    Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?

    But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist View Post
    It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.
    Okay, I have not read every post in this thread, but I have a question about ^that.

    Why "in" a simulation? Would we not be part of the simulation? Or are you proposing that our "us-ness" is a durable (non-simulated) object that is external to the simulation?
    Yes that is possible - e.g.

    Here is a related video - it is relevant to video games - and why you'd eventually want to stop your god-like ability that is possible in a game.... (omniscience/omnipotence within the game using "cheats", "mods", hacking, etc)


    IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?
    Well I have the sensation of awareness and it is possible that other people don't. ("philosophical zombies" - like all NPCs in current games)

    Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?
    It could be partly an "ancestor" simulation and people from the future are loosely basing our world on their past.... I think the purpose is usually for entertainment or personal growth. Other fans of the simulation argument think the purpose is for studying scenarios for research.
    But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?
    I think Morty's sense of self as "Roy" would be part of the simulation but his awareness involves the brain that is external to that simulation.

  10. Top | #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist View Post
    Yes that is possible - e.g.

    Here is a related video - it is relevant to video games - and why you'd eventually want to stop your god-like ability that is possible in a game.... (omniscience/omnipotence within the game using "cheats", "mods", hacking, etc)


    IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?
    Well I have the sensation of awareness and it is possible that other people don't. ("philosophical zombies" - like all NPCs in current games)

    Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?
    It could be partly an "ancestor" simulation and people from the future are loosely basing our world on their past.... I think the purpose is usually for entertainment or personal growth. Other fans of the simulation argument think the purpose is for studying scenarios for research.
    But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?
    I think Morty's sense of self as "Roy" would be part of the simulation but his awareness involves the brain that is external to that simulation.
    That all sounds like a meticulous de-mystification of religious principles, rather than an explanation of what can be observed or experienced. I recall pondering the possibility that I alone was the “subject” in the experiential experiment - the context of that memory places it at around four years old. At the same time I was considering that if the entire universe was rapidly expanding and contracting, I would not be able to tell.
    A few years later, I tried to ask an adult “why am I me, and you, you? Why am I not you or you, me?”
    Of course that garnered the predictable dismissal as a child’s nonsense, but the question persists.
    At 17 I experienced an epiphany of unity with the universe, and it laid to rest all questions of causality for me, in favor of embracing the experience of being within a biological unit. Creators, puppet masters - the whole galaxy of explanatory entities and dynamics dropped to third level concerns, and remain lower priorities for me than such things as “why does my back itch?”

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