[FoRK] This read like a post here...

Lucas Gonze lucas.gonze at gmail.com
Fri Jul 30 16:34:37 PDT 2010

If most civilizations become able to run simulations of the universe
that are accurate enough to produce us, then we would also be on that
course, recursively.

The recursion might come with termination conditions.

It may be that all simulations are inaccurate, leading to leaks in the
physics of a simulation which fall back to the physics of the

Civilizations may eventually learn that they are a simulation, causing
the experiment to become corrupt.  For example discovering leaks in
physics that are fall back to other physics might prove that the
discovering civilization is in a simulation.

Maybe it would stop being a simulation and join the simulator's
civilization at that point.  Why would a simulated being be less real?
 Ok, there's an implied hierarchy, but so what?  Let's say we're being
simulated -- how does that make us not a part of the simulating world?
 There is still only one set of physics and one actual universe, and
we're still in them.

On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM, Paul Jimenez <pj at place.org> wrote:
> ...or is he a lurker here and I'm just a doofus?
> Sourced from:
> http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/07/mediocrity.html
> Text below included without permission for those too lazy to follow links:
>   Mediocrity
>     By Charlie Stross
>     <http://www.antipope.org/mt/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=1&id=2>
> In my last blog entry, I asked "What is the minimum number of people you
> need in order to maintain (not necessarily to extend) our current level of
> technological civilization?"
> It occurs to me that besides the obvious ramifications we've been chewing
> over (read the comment thread if you dare --- it should only take a couple
> of hours), if you turn this question on its head it looks like a component
> of a set of answers to the Fermi Paradox
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox>.
> Loosely stated, the Fermi Paradox is this: there are roughly 7 x 10^22 stars
> in the observable universe. We know that planets aren't rare and that stars
> of our own sun's class aren't rare, so earthlike worlds are presumably not
> rare. Going by the principle of mediocrity, our own existence shouldn't be
> particularly unusual. So /where is everybody else/? There are plenty of
> stars old enough that, if intelligent space-going life has a non-zero
> probability of emerging, our galaxy should long since have been overrun. And
> if not, why do we detect no signs of extraterrestrial intelligence?
> In general, there are two classes of solution to the Fermi paradox; ones
> that assume that we /are/ unique special snowflakes in an empty cosmos, and
> those that postulate that intelligent species are common, but some kind of
> mechanism stops them from colonizing interstellar space.
> If we look at the second problem set, and broaden the focus ... well,
> intelligent species emerge as components of a biosphere bound to a
> particular planetary habitat. We humans are land-dwellers on Earth in the
> later high-oxygen period; conditions on earth even one billion years ago
> would have been rapidly fatal for an unprotected human, and even today,
> survival on 90% of our planet's surface area is contingent on the
> availability of cultural artefacts like boats (80% is water) or clothing
> (for protection in hostile climates). So the real question isn't, "can
> intelligent life colonize other star systems?" so much as "can intelligent
> life propagate itself, /and its supporting biosphere and technosphere/ to
> run in alien environments? Which is a very different question. Call it the
> Ark Problem; if your name is Noah and you're going on a one-way trip to
> another world, how big an Ark do you need (and how many specimens per
> speciality, be they biological or technological)?
> (Last time I asked the minimal-biosphere question here, while ploughing a
> space colony furrow, one of the first answers was "oh, you just need humans
> and blue-green algae". That, plus soy beans and tilapia and five dollars
> /won't/ buy you a latte in Starbucks --- especially once your colonists
> begin dying of obscure micronutrient deficiency diseases.)
> But enough with the ark problem and defining the minimum population of a
> stable self-maintaining technosphere; there are other fun concepts that
> might bear on the Fermi Paradox. Chief among these is the Simulation
> argument <http://www.simulation-argument.com/>. (In fact, I gather Steve
> Baxter has written a paper about it, but it doesn't seem to be on the web.)
> Loosely stated, the simulation argument runs thuswise
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulation_argument> (/pace/ wikipedia): it is
> taken as axiomatic that consciousness is an emergent property of physics
> (i.e. there's no ghost in the machine), and that we can simulate physical
> systems. Thus, it is possible in principle to construct a software
> simulation of a world inhabited by intelligent beings who will perceive that
> world as real. It then follows that /either/ no civilization will ever reach
> a technological level capable of constructing such simulations, /or/ that
> every civilization capable of doing so will choose /not/ to do so for some
> reason, /or/ ... we're probably living in a simulation (because any
> civilization capable of running a civ-sim is liable to do so many, many
> times; so the number of sim-civilizations will vastly outnumber the number
> of authentic ones, and by the principle of mediocrity we are not
> exceptional).
> (NB: you can find a more formal treatment of the simulation argument in Nick
> Bostrom's original paper
> <http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html>, although the idea goes
> back some way before then, to Hans Moravec and earlier less rigorous
> speculators.)
> It's that danged principle of mediocrity
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_mediocrity> that's causing all
> these problems. It shows up in the Fermi Paradox, it turns up in the
> Simulation Argument, it turns up like a bent penny in all sorts of places
> --- it's a big problem for the standard model of spacetime, once you start
> digging into the Boltzman Brains <http://arxiv.org/abs/0802.0233> paradox
> (for a quick intro, look here
> <http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2007/02/21/oos-and-bbs/>
> or here <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain>). Indeed, it seems to
> me to be a corollary of the weak anthropic principle
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weak_anthropic_principle>.
> ... And I've run out of brain cells with which to continue this line of
> thought, but a dangling question remains: how relevant is the simulation
> argument to the Fermi paradox, either (naively) as a solution, or as a mode
> of temporal reasoning for examining the possibility of our being alone in
> the cosmos?
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