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Thread: Argument from possible simulation

  1. Top | #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    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.
    It only seems likely that a simulation would have an intelligent creator in the context of our perceived universe where intelligent beings are the creators of most, if not all, simulations. If we discount our apparent experience - which we must if we assume that we could be in a simulation ourselves - then there's no reason to think an intelligent creator is more or less likely than anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn
    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.
    Hi Jarhyn, I apologize in advance if I've misunderstood your question so please let me know if that's the case once you've read my response.

    I think you are asking whether I consider a brain or brain-like structure composed of semiconductors as being equally aware as a brain composed of neurons.

    I have to be a little careful in my response here because I want to clarify the difference between my position when we assume that my experience is not simulated and my position when we assume that my experience could be simulated.

    Assuming that we are not utterly decieved by virtue of being in a simulation, I suspect that both a conventional, neuronal brain and a brain composed of semiconductors are equally aware.

    In the absence of that assumption (i.e. allowing for the possibility that we are in a simulation), I can't reasonably justify any belief about what awareness is or how it works or what it might require.

    Assuming that what we experience is, at least to some extent, "real" (which is what I assume) then I am totally behind you in the belief that neuroscience and neurosurgery provide some insight into the nature of awareness.

    Assuming that we could be totally decieved by virtue of being in a simulation (which is what excreationist's first premise entails), then we couldn't say that neurosurgery (or anything really) is real.

    That's really the main sticking point of my disagreement with excreationist. If we discount our apparent experiences by assuming it could all be faked, then we're left with nothing to base any beliefs on.

    I contend that we must assume that our experiences are, by and large, real in order to have any meaningful discussions.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    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.
    I think that helps a little, but mostly by moving the problem to a new place. Ultimately, I think the argument is still a non-starter but, with your modified premise above, for a slightly different reason. In fact, the reason this new premise leads to trouble is because it demands justification for not positing your original premise.

    With your original premise we can know nothing, because it implies that all knowledge within the simulation is suspect at best and everything outside of it is utterly unknowable.

    With your modified premise you confine the nature and origin of a possible simulation to something more limited, but that begs the question "why assume those limitations?"

    So, if we work backwards from your modified premise, to your first premise to my assertion it goes, in my mind, something like this:

    Modified 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."

    Rebuttal
    Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them. So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?

    Original Premise
    "It's possible we're in a simulation."

    Rebuttal
    This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know anything further to be true other than the original premise.

    My Assertion
    We must axiomatically reject your original premise. The sole justification I have for rejecting your premise is that, otherwise, we cannot make any coherent statements about our experiences or the universe at large. In simple terms, the possibility of our being in a simulation is fundamentally undeniable, but the question of whether we really are in a simulation or not is unanswerable. Worse still, accepting the possibility of being in a simulation renders us mute.

    As I've said before, any statement is rendered moot by invoking your first premise.

    While nobody prefaces their statements with "assuming we're not in a simulation", I think that's generally taken for granted. In the case of your arguments here, it's obvious that we need to say so explicitly and I think I've given a reasonable explanation for why we have to make this assumption.

    It's literally for the sake of discussion.

  2. Top | #172
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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    It only seems likely that a simulation would have an intelligent creator in the context of our perceived universe where intelligent beings are the creators of most, if not all, simulations. If we discount our apparent experience - which we must if we assume that we could be in a simulation ourselves - then there's no reason to think an intelligent creator is more or less likely than anything else.


    Hi Jarhyn, I apologize in advance if I've misunderstood your question so please let me know if that's the case once you've read my response.

    I think you are asking whether I consider a brain or brain-like structure composed of semiconductors as being equally aware as a brain composed of neurons.

    I have to be a little careful in my response here because I want to clarify the difference between my position when we assume that my experience is not simulated and my position when we assume that my experience could be simulated.

    Assuming that we are not utterly decieved by virtue of being in a simulation, I suspect that both a conventional, neuronal brain and a brain composed of semiconductors are equally aware.

    In the absence of that assumption (i.e. allowing for the possibility that we are in a simulation), I can't reasonably justify any belief about what awareness is or how it works or what it might require.

    Assuming that what we experience is, at least to some extent, "real" (which is what I assume) then I am totally behind you in the belief that neuroscience and neurosurgery provide some insight into the nature of awareness.

    Assuming that we could be totally decieved by virtue of being in a simulation (which is what excreationist's first premise entails), then we couldn't say that neurosurgery (or anything really) is real.

    That's really the main sticking point of my disagreement with excreationist. If we discount our apparent experiences by assuming it could all be faked, then we're left with nothing to base any beliefs on.

    I contend that we must assume that our experiences are, by and large, real in order to have any meaningful discussions.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    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.
    I think that helps a little, but mostly by moving the problem to a new place. Ultimately, I think the argument is still a non-starter but, with your modified premise above, for a slightly different reason. In fact, the reason this new premise leads to trouble is because it demands justification for not positing your original premise.

    With your original premise we can know nothing, because it implies that all knowledge within the simulation is suspect at best and everything outside of it is utterly unknowable.

    With your modified premise you confine the nature and origin of a possible simulation to something more limited, but that begs the question "why assume those limitations?"

    So, if we work backwards from your modified premise, to your first premise to my assertion it goes, in my mind, something like this:

    Modified 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."

    Rebuttal
    Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them. So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?

    Original Premise
    "It's possible we're in a simulation."

    Rebuttal
    This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know anything further to be true other than the original premise.

    My Assertion
    We must axiomatically reject your original premise. The sole justification I have for rejecting your premise is that, otherwise, we cannot make any coherent statements about our experiences or the universe at large. In simple terms, the possibility of our being in a simulation is fundamentally undeniable, but the question of whether we really are in a simulation or not is unanswerable. Worse still, accepting the possibility of being in a simulation renders us mute.

    As I've said before, any statement is rendered moot by invoking your first premise.

    While nobody prefaces their statements with "assuming we're not in a simulation", I think that's generally taken for granted. In the case of your arguments here, it's obvious that we need to say so explicitly and I think I've given a reasonable explanation for why we have to make this assumption.

    It's literally for the sake of discussion.
    So to clarify, mostly you have my position, but there is one caveat to this: when the whole relationship is a function of both the client universe and the host universe, it's equally and uniquely in both universes at the same time, including all equal implementations wherein they are native.

    It's a very mind-hurty thing to contemplate, that if your process is implemented equally in two apparently different "whole" universes it's still the same process.

    My question was just to elucidate that I think consciousness is the basic product of such a process happening; that it must be like something to be any given thing and this is just what it is like to be this kind of relationship.

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    Modified 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."

    Rebuttal
    Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them.
    That's like having a premise saying "it's possible I could win the lottery" and countering "it's possible you won't win the lottery".
    So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?
    Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.

    Original Premise
    "It's possible we're in a simulation."

    Rebuttal
    This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know [emphasis added] anything further to be true other than the original premise.
    Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

    BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".

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    Sorry for being absent so long. I had written a response but forgot to save it and got discouraged so I'm writing it anew.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn
    So to clarify, mostly you have my position, but there is one caveat to this: when the whole relationship is a function of both the client universe and the host universe, it's equally and uniquely in both universes at the same time, including all equal implementations wherein they are native.

    It's a very mind-hurty thing to contemplate, that if your process is implemented equally in two apparently different "whole" universes it's still the same process.

    My question was just to elucidate that I think consciousness is the basic product of such a process happening; that it must be like something to be any given thing and this is just what it is like to be this kind of relationship.
    Thanks for the clarification. I think what you are saying, in part, is that consciousness is the product of certain processes (like neural activity) regardless of whether those processes are part of a simulation (or even an arbitrarily deep dependency of simulations) or not. Further, I think you are saying that the processes (of simulation and being simulated) are intrinsically linked and coexist in both the "real" host universe as well as the simulated client universe. Lastly, I think by saying "it must be like something to be any given thing" you seem to be echoing my personal suspicion that everything is capable of experience, even if that experience - limited by a lack of sensory and cognitive equipment - is of nothing.

    Assuming, as I contend we must, that we are not ourselves part of a simulation - because that would cast doubt upon everything we think we experience and know - and assuming that I understand what you have said, I agree with you. If I've misunderstood you, please accept my apologies and know that I am happy to try again to understand your position. If we instead assume that we might be part of a simulation (as premised by excreationist) then I must disagree on the basis that all of our knowledge would be suspect.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    That's like having a premise saying "it's possible I could win the lottery" and countering "it's possible you won't win the lottery".
    That's a valid inference that follows from the premise and shows that the premise is itself only a demonstration of the principle of the excluded middle. It doesn't really put forth a statement about winning the lottery, but instead it trivially reiterates the idea that either something is true or not and that there isn't a third option. If I posit that "you either could win the lottery or you could not", I'm not really saying anything about either case and therefore, not really making any other argument than that you could not both win and not win the lottery. I don't think that your argument is merely that something could be only true or not true.

    My argument is akin to saying "it's not possible that you could win the lottery". That would be an argument about something rather than an irresolute reverie that amounts to "maybe it is, maybe it ain't". Of course, then the onus would be on me to provide justification for why this is true or why we must assume that it is true.

    As such, that is what I've done. I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.

    Saying "it's possible to win the lottery" doesn't shake the foundations of knowledge and epistemology to its core. On the other hand, saying "it's possible that we're in a simulation" - which implies "everything we think we know could be false" - undercuts absolutely everything.

    My assertion that we must assume it is not true (that we could be in a simulation) is not based on underlying facts, but rather on it underlying all other facts.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.
    The revised, qualified premise, doesn't make things better for two reasons. The first is that it still stymies discussion in the ways I've already described. The second is that, even if it somehow avoided gelding knowledge altogether, it would be unjustified special pleading.

    My argument requires special pleading, but I feel that I have adequately justified my assertion.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

    BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".
    Unless you reject the principle of the excluded middle, the conclusion "there could be a god" is functionally equivalent to the conclusion "there could not be a god". It says nothing. It's just vacillation.

    However, I haven't been arguing much about that conclusion, as meaningless as it is. Instead, I've been arguing about your first premise and the fact that it cuts off all further premises, inferences and conclusions, no matter how you word them or how many qualifications you place around them. There is nothing you can change about premises 2, 3, 4, ... that erases the problem introduced by accepting your first premise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    .....I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.
    So you have trouble accepting even the first premise based on your reasoning. You are the only person I've come across who has all of those objections (including asserting that it is possible for a simulation to not have a creator or that it is possible that we have no awareness). I can't seem to have any success with defending my ideas with you so I'm getting nowhere at all. Since you are the only person I have come across with those objections I don't really feel discouraged with the arguments I've put forth.

    "then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt"

    I'm talking about possibilities not conclusions that involve no doubt. (I guess I'm missing your point though)

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    Sorry for being absent so long. I had written a response but forgot to save it and got discouraged so I'm writing it anew.


    Thanks for the clarification. I think what you are saying, in part, is that consciousness is the product of certain processes (like neural activity) regardless of whether those processes are part of a simulation (or even an arbitrarily deep dependency of simulations) or not. Further, I think you are saying that the processes (of simulation and being simulated) are intrinsically linked and coexist in both the "real" host universe as well as the simulated client universe. Lastly, I think by saying "it must be like something to be any given thing" you seem to be echoing my personal suspicion that everything is capable of experience, even if that experience - limited by a lack of sensory and cognitive equipment - is of nothing.

    Assuming, as I contend we must, that we are not ourselves part of a simulation - because that would cast doubt upon everything we think we experience and know - and assuming that I understand what you have said, I agree with you. If I've misunderstood you, please accept my apologies and know that I am happy to try again to understand your position. If we instead assume that we might be part of a simulation (as premised by excreationist) then I must disagree on the basis that all of our knowledge would be suspect.


    That's a valid inference that follows from the premise and shows that the premise is itself only a demonstration of the principle of the excluded middle. It doesn't really put forth a statement about winning the lottery, but instead it trivially reiterates the idea that either something is true or not and that there isn't a third option. If I posit that "you either could win the lottery or you could not", I'm not really saying anything about either case and therefore, not really making any other argument than that you could not both win and not win the lottery. I don't think that your argument is merely that something could be only true or not true.

    My argument is akin to saying "it's not possible that you could win the lottery". That would be an argument about something rather than an irresolute reverie that amounts to "maybe it is, maybe it ain't". Of course, then the onus would be on me to provide justification for why this is true or why we must assume that it is true.

    As such, that is what I've done. I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.

    Saying "it's possible to win the lottery" doesn't shake the foundations of knowledge and epistemology to its core. On the other hand, saying "it's possible that we're in a simulation" - which implies "everything we think we know could be false" - undercuts absolutely everything.

    My assertion that we must assume it is not true (that we could be in a simulation) is not based on underlying facts, but rather on it underlying all other facts.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.
    The revised, qualified premise, doesn't make things better for two reasons. The first is that it still stymies discussion in the ways I've already described. The second is that, even if it somehow avoided gelding knowledge altogether, it would be unjustified special pleading.

    My argument requires special pleading, but I feel that I have adequately justified my assertion.

    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist
    Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

    BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".
    Unless you reject the principle of the excluded middle, the conclusion "there could be a god" is functionally equivalent to the conclusion "there could not be a god". It says nothing. It's just vacillation.

    However, I haven't been arguing much about that conclusion, as meaningless as it is. Instead, I've been arguing about your first premise and the fact that it cuts off all further premises, inferences and conclusions, no matter how you word them or how many qualifications you place around them. There is nothing you can change about premises 2, 3, 4, ... that erases the problem introduced by accepting your first premise.
    I think we squared there, ya. It took me a really long time to develop the ability to grok those thoughts. You get some mad props for absorbing it in my obtuse language.

    Heaven knows just re-reading both of our posts in series for understanding and confirmation is giving me brain cotton.

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    As a follow-up, some time now later, it occurs to me that I have spent some great amount of time considering what it must be like to be a great many things. Perhaps it is hubris and folly, but I do it all the same. An electron makes one decision. But is there a life of decisions, dropping along as much as it must to continue it's journey? It must be like a dance, randomly bouncing about the cosmos, experiencing nothing but the moment of transcendence, and rebirth from a chaotic relationship with an over-excitable electron...

    In a lot of ways a rock has a more boring existence. It subsumes all it's matter, all that stuff just worshipping in the orbit of the Next Biggest Thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn
    I think we squared there, ya. It took me a really long time to develop the ability to grok those thoughts. You get some mad props for absorbing it in my obtuse language.

    Heaven knows just re-reading both of our posts in series for understanding and confirmation is giving me brain cotton.
    I'm glad to hear we understand one another! I also had to re-read everything a few times in the hopes of not misunderstanding or misrepresenting your position.

    I've found one of the harder concepts for me to come to terms with is how uncertain our knowledge is at its base. However, I've realized that, despite indisputable doubts about our perceptions of the universe, we can move forward in as meaningful of a way as possible by agreeing upon certain stipulations (e.g. "we are not totally deceived by a simulation", "other people are not philosophical zombies", etc.) for the purpose of further discussion.

    Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.

    That's what's at the heart of this discussion, despite it being framed from the outset as an argument for an intelligent creator. It's a practical demonstration of the adage that "you have to work with what you've got."

    Quote Originally Posted by Jarhyn
    As a follow-up, some time now later, it occurs to me that I have spent some great amount of time considering what it must be like to be a great many things. Perhaps it is hubris and folly, but I do it all the same. An electron makes one decision. But is there a life of decisions, dropping along as much as it must to continue it's journey? It must be like a dance, randomly bouncing about the cosmos, experiencing nothing but the moment of transcendence, and rebirth from a chaotic relationship with an over-excitable electron...

    In a lot of ways a rock has a more boring existence. It subsumes all it's matter, all that stuff just worshipping in the orbit of the Next Biggest Thing.
    While this is, I think, outside of the scope of the OP and my criticisms of it, I don't think there is much harm in making a passing remark or two on this subject.

    I must say that I'm not sure if the language you use here is warranted (e.g. decisions, transcendence, worshipping), but I think I get the gist. My intuition (and I haven't spent nearly enough time considering this carefully) suggests, since there is nothing apparently special about configurations of matter which have (or appear to have) conscious experiences, that experience is intrinsic to all matter. I subsequently surmise that the limiting factors on what is experienced, or communicated as being experienced, are the sensory, cognitive and communicative apparatus available to the thing in question. I suspect, for instance, that rocks have experience but that, without sensory organs and a brainlike structure to form, store and reflect upon memories, the experience is of nothing.

    Anyway, that's a topic for another forum and another day! Let's see what excreationist has to say about the latest responses.

    Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    .....Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.....
    I don't think it follows that if other people aren't aware then I might not be aware...

    Most or all simulation argument fans would believe it is possible that at least some of the other people are philosophical zombies - yet these simulation fans believe that they are experiencing the sensation of awareness and qualia.

    On reddit there's a guy who thinks that almost everyone isn't aware because he doesn't like the idea of other people suffering. (philosophical zombies can't experience genuine suffering). Sometimes in the Sims, players like to set the sims on fire....



    That would be even more problematic if the sims had a genuine awareness of pain. Another reason to have philosophical zombies is that I think they'd be less CPU intensive to simulate like when Morty plays the "Roy" video game.

    Dreams are kind of like simulated experiences and I'd say the dreamer is conscious while the characters in the dream are philosophical zombies.

    You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.

    I did say "if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia" but I think that is equivalent with "it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia".

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    Quote Originally Posted by excreationist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by connick View Post
    .....Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.....
    I don't think it follows that if other people aren't aware then I might not be aware...

    Most or all simulation argument fans would believe it is possible that at least some of the other people are philosophical zombies - yet these simulation fans believe that they are experiencing the sensation of awareness and qualia.

    On reddit there's a guy who thinks that almost everyone isn't aware because he doesn't like the idea of other people suffering. (philosophical zombies can't experience genuine suffering). Sometimes in the Sims, players like to set the sims on fire....



    That would be even more problematic if the sims had a genuine awareness of pain. Another reason to have philosophical zombies is that I think they'd be less CPU intensive to simulate like when Morty plays the "Roy" video game.

    Dreams are kind of like simulated experiences and I'd say the dreamer is conscious while the characters in the dream are philosophical zombies.

    You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.

    I did say "if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia" but I think that is equivalent with "it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia".
    meh, I'd agree that the simulation we experience, if it is, is a simulation of real system that doesn't exist.

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