The Grad Student and the Dropout

Jeff Bone jbone at
Tue Apr 29 17:34:04 PDT 2003

On Tuesday, Apr 29, 2003, at 16:16 US/Central, Russell Turpin wrote:

> Definitely, following Bostrom's argument. Not only
> will our intellectual descendants want to simulate
> their ancestors, but they also will want to simulate
> gods and demons (why not?), who will create subworlds
> of beings, who might or might not look like their
> ancestors. After all, wouldn't it be strange if we
> were the *first* race to reach the singularity? IF
> we exist as a simulation, THEN I think it is more
> likely that we exist not as a simulation of our
> descendants, but of some race we haven't imagined.

You're really hung up on this level-notion of who's the simulator and 
who's the simulated...  and I'm telling you, that's the wrong question 
to ask, probably based on looking at the problem with a particular 
prejudicial perspective.

What if things don't stack up in a nice neat layer cake, but are rather 
a graph --- with cycles?

Who cares?  Does it matter?

> The issue with empiricism isn't that it is ruled
> out as a pragmatic tool, but that as a philosophical
> position it would no longer serve as a basis for
> ruling out an unknowable reality behind the
> observable reality, for laughing at the possibility
> of demons and gods.

It doesn't, however, prevent it from being used as a tool for ruling 
out pragmatically useless discussions.  Watch!  ;-)  Tell you what, 
Russell:  when the Big Man With The Beard, Bugs Bunny, and Einstein's 
brain-in-a-book show up at your door to discuss whether the simulation 
hypothesis requires, entails, or implies faith --- then we'll talk.

Also:  who said that all parts of the phase space are equally reachable 
from any given part?  What does "reachable" mean, etc.

It's the lack of definition of questions like the above, much less 
answers, that make your wild and desperate attempts to do away with the 
"odd" and apparently uncomfortable-to-consider consequences of a 
simulation hypothesis incredible at the moment.  You're leaping ahead 
about 10 turns --- I don't even know what the questions are (and 
apparently you haven't given them any thought either) that would allow 
us to deal with this seriously.

Running to the corners.

> That's true in MWI. But in EPW, the phase space is
> every possible reality where our reality exists as
> a simulation or embedded reality.

Fine so far.

> In THAT phase
> space, I think there are many more worlds where we
> cannot probe the nature of the Really Real -- or
> actually, the Next Reality Up -- than those where
> we can.

Non sequiter.

> And that's true also for the beings in the
> reality behind ours. When you start considering the
> hierarchy, the possibilities explode.

Behind?  Hierarchy?

You're assuming a lot more than I am.

> I think
> you're trying to tame EPW with analogy from MWI,
> and it doesn't really work.

And I think you're failing to see that MWI is merely a subset of EPW, 
and that there's nothing on the books that makes the two incompatible.

Look:  I understand that you've got serious, long-standing issues about 
"what constitutes a model" and "what constitutes a simulation" --- 
we've had (many of) those discussions before.  But you're dragging all 
sorts of baggage into this, making all kinds of wild assumptions and 
assertions (to which I have not stipulated) and leaping to frankly 
incredible conclusions.  Presumably for the purpose of creating such an 
incredible strawman that you can simply knock it over and not have to 
puzzle out any admittedly uncomfortable conclusions to which 
alternatives might lead.

You're not convincing me, Russell.  You're going to have to drill down 
on this in order to do so.


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