[ExI] digital simulations, descriptions and copies

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 23 16:13:55 UTC 2010

Let us say that a botanist writes a massive tome about a certain apple. His book contains every fact about this certain apple. He titles his book _A Complete Description Of A Certain Apple_. 

For his work on describing the apple, the botanist wins the Nobel Prize in Appleology. This catches the attention of Steve Jobs, who buys a copy of the book with the idea of charging one of his programmers with the task of creating the ultimate digital simulation of an apple. 

Jobs and his programmer will need anything more than the book that completely describes the apple. The Apple programmer will *translate* that book from the English language into his favorite programming language.

Just as the original book that the programmer translated exist as a description of an apple, so too will the resulting digitally simulation exist as a description of the apple.  That description will no more taste like the original apple than will the description in the botanist's book. Digital simulations of apples do no more than describe apples in the same way that the books about apples describe apples. 

And a digital simulation of a person eating an apple is likewise only a *description* of a person eating an apple. 

We can create digitally simulated persons eating digitally simulated apples in the same sense that Tolkien created a description of "Gandalf smoking a pipe in Middle Earth".

We must as above bracket the proposition; that is, if we want to write about simulated people eating simulated apples then we must use scare-quotes and write that they "eat apples". We use the scare-quotes to indicate to the reader that we're not talking about reality. 

We hope the reader can understand the difference between reality and the things he imagines.



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