[extropy-chat] Be[ing] or Not Be[ing]

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury at aeiveos.com
Fri Apr 16 10:06:10 UTC 2004

On Thu, 15 Apr 2004, Harvey Newstrom, responding to my comments
that we might be in a simulation wrote:

> I disagree.  I think this argument just replaces religious words with
> technical-sounding words.  Real rational thought seeks to explain
> observed phenomena with the most consistent, testable, and simplest
> hypothesis that correctly predicts the phenomena. [snip]

Ok, lets back up a step.  First there are reasons to run ancestor
sims so one can determine how one got to a specific point.  There
are entire fields of science (e.g. paleontology, astronomy, etc.
dedicated to determining precisely *how* we got to where we are).
Then there are reasons to run future sims -- to see how the course
you are on might turn out so you can alter it if the result is
undesirable.  So I can come up with reasons for intelligences
outside of a sim to run them.

The *only* claim I've seen that most theists make is along the
lines of an experiment/playtoy where God created the universe
just to see how it would turn out.  Now, if you like you can
treat this as a sim -- but *most* theists don't.

Second, by defininition proving one is in a sim is very very
hard.  If it was easy it wouldn't be a good sim.  I believe
most of this was hashed over in the Matrix movie series to
at least some degree.  Damien might also suggest books that
cover the topic.  So any hypothesis regarding sims may not be
testable -- it suffers from the same problem that most proponents
of string theory have.

Third, an explanation does *NOT* have to be the "simplest".
We could probably go back and forth on hundreds or thousands
of cases in biology where what nature evolved is *not* simple.
Human engineering could probably find much more elegant or
simple solutions.  Nature evolved "what worked".  It didn't
have to be the best or the simplest -- it simply had to get
the job done.  This in my mind is one of the fundamental flaws
in scientific thinking -- its assuming that the universe is
simple when the knowledge that ~70% of the Earths in our
galaxy and others are much older than ours would suggest
that there is a significant probability that it is actually
quite complex.


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