[ExI] Virtual Reality is where the aliens are

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Sep 8 16:38:21 UTC 2015

On 2015-09-06 05:37, spike wrote:
> >…As one of our locals once said, "pluralitas non est ponenda sine 
> necessitate" - do not add extra stuff to your theory unless you need 
> it. But the *kind* of stuff can be strange: extra dimensions are not 
> stranger than other kinds of matter or negative numbers. But simpler, 
> less extravagant stuff is of course always preferable….Anders Sandberg
> Ja. I wasn’t there when it happened, but visualize what it was like 
> when Heron and later Bombelli introduced the notion of imaginary 
> numbers.  Plenty of the grumpy old professors must have dismissed the 
> whole idea as silliness, just some kind of useless game.  It was 
> probably a lot like postulating an additional dimension.

Indeed, *negative* numbers were regarded as problematic. As Francis 
Masers said in 1759 (!), they "darken the very whole doctrines of the 
equations and make dark of the things which are in their nature 
excessively obvious and simple". Of course, at that point most people 
were actually fine with them and Masers was one of the last holdouts 
against calculus and other stupid newfangled concepts.

I like calling the imaginary numbers vertical. I learned to count using 
a thermometer, so negative numbers are just cold numbers (blue) and 
positive numbers warm (red). Then I realized one could count stuff to 
the sides of the line (windy numbers? :-)

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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