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

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Sun Apr 18 15:07:48 UTC 2004

On Saturday, April 17, 2004, at 08:48 pm, Hal Finney wrote:

> The simulation argument is not scientific.  It is not meant to be.
> It is not falsifiable.  But that doesn't make it pointless.

Agreed.  So I wish people would stop claiming that it is more 
*scientific* than a religion.

> "ABSTRACT. This paper argues that at least one of the following
> propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go 
> extinct
> before reaching a 'posthuman' stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is
> extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their
> evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost 
> certainly
> living in a computer simulation."

> It is entirely FALSE to claim that the simulation argument says that we
> live in a simulation.  It says nothing of the sort.

I disagree.  It definitely *does* say something of the sort.  It claims 
that if you don't agree with premise one or two, then you must admit 
that three, "we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation."  
It then goes on the argue that one and two are likely false, and three 
is likely true.

> Logic and science are different, but they are both important tools for
> reaching the truth.

I disagree.  Unfalsifiable, unscientific methods are *not* important 
methods for reaching truth.  Until this argument can be falsified or 
tested or even approached scientifically, it is about as useful as a 
religious debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I question the whole statistical assumption that we are equally likely 
to have been born any universe or simulation, so that if there are more 
simulations than universes we are statistically likely to appear in 
them.  Where did these estimates of how likely it is to appear out of 
nothing come from?  If you want to argue from unfounded intuition, it 
seems to me that we would more likely arrive in bigger universes than 
smaller simulations, longer-lived universes than shorter-lived 
simulations, outer containing universes instead of inner subsets 
configured as simulations, and in big-bang universes that actually 
created new things, rather than in simulations which are just parts of 
the over-universe shuffled around a bit.  Taking all the dimensions of 
size, time, complexity, speed, and resource avaialability, it seems 
that real universes far outweigh simulations in any meaningful 
comparison for statistical purposes.

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