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Comment Re:In Other Words (Score 5, Insightful) 379

1. Due to limited computational resources, the simulated universe would be granular or "quantum".
2. To limit computation, reality would be held in a fuzzy probabilistic "superposition" state until it is actually observed, similar to how a GPU running OpenGL will skip the generation of hidden polygons.
3. The maximum speed of information transfer would be finite, to limit the propagation of changes through the universe.

All of these are actually true in our universe, ergo, we are very likely a simulation.

And this, sir, is why you really need to consider taking a course in formal logic and maybe learn about logical fallacies.

None of these assertions, even if they were true in some useful way, constitute a statistical or logical argument for the conclusion. This is true at an openly embarrassing level. Suppose one were designing a rock because you wanted to build a rock wall and for some reason didn't want to use actual rocks. Due to the cost of raw materials, rocks would be finite in size. Because you don't want the wall to be boring, rocks would come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes. Because you don't want the fake rock wall to fall down, rocks would be solid, as opposed to liquid, glass, plasma, gaseous.

All real rocks are actually finite in size, come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors, and tend to be solid to the point where "rock solid" is a standard metaphor in human speech. Ergo, all rocks are obviously designed.


Teleological arguments are pure bullshit, which is what the physicist in question (as well as myself, also a physicist) are happy to point out.

When one actually looks at rocks or Universes, there is an utter lack of either evidence or a plausible, consistent, evidence linked chain of reasoning that increases the probability that the notion/hypothesis "Rocks are designed" or "We are living in a computer simulation" is/are true from their rightful place (so far) of 0.0000.....(0 until you get bored with writing 0's)...001 to something with a tiny smidgen of actual measure.

These are not independent assertions, by the way. If you take the assertion that the Universe is a simulation seriously, then rocks ARE designed objects, even though there is absolutely nothing about rocks to suggest that they actually are designed.

One could then deconstruct the truth of each of your statements individually. For example, there is nothing in quantum theory that limits computational requirements -- quite the opposite. Indeed, quantum theory is built on top of complex, non-discrete numbers in every quantum textbook ever written -- C-numbers. That is, quantum objects are described in general by (at least) TWO real numbers, not just one. If you attempt to represent the quantum state of a very simple -- the simplest -- two level quantum system such as |\psi> = A|-> + B|+>, one discovers that it requires two continuous degrees of freedom and that the states of the system map nicely into points on a 3D spherical hypersurface. If you try to describe the most general quantum state of N such 2 level objects, it requires 2^N or so continuous degrees of freedom. Consequently, we are limited in our solutions or simulational studies of fully correlated quantum systems to a tiny, tiny handful of e.g. "two level atoms" -- perhaps 20 to 30 of them -- because one very quickly runs out of computational resources to perform even very small general computations.

Second, you are building a whole mountain of assumptions into what appears to be a misinterpretation of the Planck length. To quote Wikipedia's page on this topic:

There is currently no proven physical significance of the Planck length...

so you are quoting something for which there is no direct evidence as evidence in a bad teleological argument for something for which there is no evidence at all.

You also don't address the actual numbers associated with the Planck length/time. If the Planck length \ell_p is order of 10^{-35} meters, and the visible Universe (alone) is ~10^11 light years across, and a light year is 10^16 meters then there are 10(11+16+35)*3 = 10^{186} cubic Planck lengths in the visible Universe, and making Planck time out of \ell_p/c we end up with another factor of 10^70 x 10^186 = 10^256 discrete space-time points. That's a hell of a lot of data, and one has to compute all of this for all of these time slices.

Now speaking only for myself, if I were building a simulation of the Universe, it would NOT look like this microscopically. That's because when one plays a game with a physics simulation, all one has to do is present a perspective view into a purely classical representation of various surfaces, plus some sounds, plus some sundry nervous/sensations. Humans can't see microscopic things anyway, even with a microscope we don't see microscopic things, we see images that our brains plus some cognitive work identify as microscopic things. I don't have to make a virtual world that has actual simulations of individual viruses to simulate the nervous sensations of "feeling viremic". Reality need never be more than skin deep, perception deep. I'll point out that empirically (there's that word once again) ALL actual reality simulations present precisely this sort of a Universe BECAUSE it doesn't require an enormous representation. When a dark iron dwarf in WoW throws a bomb at you, the simulator doesn't compute the quantum chemistry ot a gunpowder explosion all the way down to the Planck scale, it just manipulates a few pixels and sprites according to a very simple model of what an explosion LOOKS LIKE.

Similarly, it is really irrelevant as to what the "speed of propagation of causality" is in a simulation. It doesn't even matter how fast your computer is, since you are just stacking up large arrays of numbers with some index you are identifying with some sort of discretized timestep. And don't get me started about relativity and simultaneity and the ordering of events separated by spacelike intervals and COMPUTATIONS of all of these things -- suffice it to say that your argument itself is in fact naive and incorrect per point as well as collectively.

Could the world of our experience by a simulation? Sure. Of course it could. And pink unicorns COULD fart rainbow colors. There is nothing fundamentally contradictory about either one, especially when you get to make up the terms that aren't being contradicted.

It's just that we haven't a shred of actual evidence that either assertion is true. Or that the Universe is a made/designed thing. Or that we could somehow DISTINGUISH a designed "real physical" Universe from a designed "simulation, unreal" Universe from the real, undesigned, physical Universe we appear to live in. Teleological arguments are just as dumb in religion as they are in the assertion that we are all living inside "the Matrix" in reality. How could you even know?


Comment Re:Is the tech bubble official yet? (Score 1) 77

As far as I know, nobody has yet devised an experiment capable of determining whether consciousness actually lives in the brain, or whether the brain is a receiver for a consciousness which exists independently of the body.

You mean, aside from all of the usual ones? Like, giving people powerful drugs makes their (my!) consciousness go away? Like the fact that strokes, drugs, alcohol, accidents, and acts of violence that damage the brain tissue make consciousness go away incrementally? Like the fact that when people's brains die, they apparently die (from the point of view of every device built to measure the neural activity that we identify as consciousness in everything with neurons that we have ever studied)? Like the fact that we have working neural models capable of at least a few of the first steps towards consciousness? Like the fact that all of our understanding of science so far, working together, provides not the slightest support for an alternative hypothesis?

Asserting that we have no experiments to determine whether consciousness lives in a brain is like asserting that we have no experiments that refute the possibility that we are all just NPCs in a giant MMORPG Matrix, or asserting that we have no experiments that refute the possibility of hidden nonlocal dimensions in physics, or we have no possibility of proving that Jesus didn't raise the not-quite-dead yet and make blind people walk and deaf people see. Science doesn't work that way, evidence doesn't work that way, as it leaves one stuck in the eternal "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack" for an infinite sea of non-contradictory assertions that could be true.

Heres how it works. Nearly all of that "sea of notions" -- possible true assertions -- is nearly perfectly improbable. Not "false", just -- literally -- not likely to be true, given what we know and the evidence so far. There could be a rock on the far side of the moon carved by chance into a nearly perfect bust of Abraham Lincoln -- not impossible -- but there is no point in wasting precious plausible belief in our ontology on such a hypothesis as there is no evidence that it is true. Furthermore, by doing a statistical study of rock shapes on the earth looking for rocks that actually look like they were carved into human busts with precisely recognizable features, we might even conclude that it is very likely to be false because the particular shapes that make up a human head, neck, and shoulder set are simply unlikely to occur by accident. This is Bertrand Russell's "teapot" argument.

Of course there is one amusing way the teapot could fail. We could send a silver tea set into orbit! Or, we could drop a bust of Abraham Lincoln on the dark side of the moon. Neither of these apply to consciousness, yet, but of course that is the point of the entire "True/Strong AI" enterprise. Which I personally think will succeed within the next ten to twenty years, not to preserve human consciousness but to augment it and exploit it (the AI). We are already augmenting human consciousness through the interfaces we already have -- the fingers and eyes and ears -- to the point where google is a major part of our brains, to the point where I can stream this thought chain out into your brain faster than anyone a mere twenty or thirty years ago would have ever dreamed possible.

So please, we have a mountain of evidence that consciousness is, in fact, supported directly by the physical tissue of the brain. We also have an immovable mass of humanity that does not wish to face this fact and shape their lives and ethical systems upon the probably true, scientifically supported ontology that strongly, strongly suggests that this one life is all you get, that if your brain dies you die, that there is no alternative reality or superset reality where you will live in paradise or be tortured for eternity, and that there is no mysterious invisible self-aware construct that grants wishes and enforces "perfect justice" or "perfect law" or "perfect love" on a selective basis depending on whether or not one embraces a particular set of "ancient" beliefs.


Comment Re:Is the tech bubble official yet? (Score 1) 77

I'm giving up mod to add to this. Bug Jack Barron is worth the read even today, as Spinrad is a true visionary. One of my favorite books. Sort of a Rush Limbaugh in reverse, or what Stern wishes that he was. And periodically, you hear snippets of med-tech that still leave open the possibility that Spinrad's take on immortality wasn't completely wrong...


Comment Re: Cutting who? The massively inflated? (Score 1) 647

Why, exactly, is this a sentence fragment?


is a sentence, consisting of a verb in imperative form, with the understood subject 'You' (the listeners). So is "Try." So is "(You) go again." Or "(You) try again."

Oh, and since you are supposedly representing the grammar police on /., and I'm challenging your absurd statement that this is a fragment, I suppose I ought to provide you with at least some K-12 level documentation that your assertion is, in fact, absurd:

Comment Re:Why is Holocaust Denial Such a Huge Deal? (Score 1) 429

Aspiration cannot be freely rewarded in an economy unless it is growth-oriented; if the amount of money in the economy never changes (which I presume is what was intended by 'sustainable'), then rewarding wealth production merely results in a slower and less predictable form of deflation and is not stable. Off the top of my head, a sensible compromise might be awarding bonuses for exemplary work, on top of a fixed UBI, that must be spent within a certain timespan, but personally I'm of the opinion that any economy that isn't totally post-money is flawed at best.

Comment Re:Why is Holocaust Denial Such a Huge Deal? (Score 1) 429

I agree with you wholeheartedly; my reservations—how the hell did we get onto this subject?—are entirely about ensuring that all the members of the economy are able to continue participating. Without that, social instability will inevitably destabilize any attempt at an adiabatic balance.

Comment Re: Google as gatekeeper of truth (Score 1) 429

...I don't understand why you're asking me this, or why you didn't even bother looking it up on Wikipedia. The records were burned and it took more than one analysis to determine the correct figures. As far as I can tell, the plaques still say 1.5 million. If there is a plaque that says 'thousands', it's probably in reference to a more specific part of the camp.

Comment Re:Why is Holocaust Denial Such a Huge Deal? (Score 1) 429

I find it highly unlikely that automation will improve any economy, given that it essentially cuts the lower classes out of the economy entirely. A system of universal basic income would be necessary to offset the inevitable sequestration, as such a situation is severely non-ergodic. This is a classic problem with the pursuit of wealth; if you don't put it back somehow, eventually no one else has anything left to spend.

Comment Re: Google as gatekeeper of truth (Score 1) 429

Meanwhile we're expected to believe that those 11.5 million people were gassed in shower rooms with wooden doors with insecticide used to get rid of the lice that cause typhus.

This is erroneous; considering just Jews, Eichmann's estimate is that about 4 million of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust died in concentration camps (from all possible causes), and that the remaining two million were killed under other circumstances. Gas chambers with Zyklon B were used to kill an estimated one million people, and it definitely did work, given that the main ingredient was hydrogen cyanide. Surely you've seen this? Further reading: this and this.

I'll grant that "emotional blackmail" on "various stances on issues unrelated to Jews" sounds unethical from how you've summarized it, but de-legitimizing the Holocaust won't allow you to get back at your teachers.

Comment Re: Google as gatekeeper of truth (Score 1) 429

The Israelis—who are definitely not the entirety of the world's population of Jews—view themselves as defending their own existence. The situation in Palestine (which, by all accounts, is awful) has as much to do with thousands of years of tribal conflict between groups that have frequently been hellbent on destroying each other, which is nothing alien to that geographic region or cultures from it. To condemn such unexceptional behavior is to condemn everywhere from the Balkans to central Africa (and further). It's quite a bit different when a supposedly civilized Westerner decides he feels like taking over Europe and drags his country back to that stage of development by identifying a scapegoat that was provably incapable of accomplishing the misdeeds attributed to it. Despite its ambitions, Israel is not yet quite mature enough as a social democracy to be held to the same standards of behavior.

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