Argumentation suggesting there might be many "gods"

Al G. Funguy
atheist
Posts: 33
Joined: 2012-01-13
User is offlineOffline
Argumentation suggesting there might be many "gods"

I'm not going to say this is true, but I find it plausible and interesting.

Let me paraphrase an argument by Nick Bostrom: http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

If you believe that human technology will continue to advance, and that we will colonize the solar system and beyond, then there will eventually come a point where we will be able to build enormously powerful computers (e.g. computers with the mass of Jupiter). Look at how far video games have come in 20 years and consider what could be done with such a computer. With a sufficiently powerful computer, we will be able to run simulations of our ancestors' lives with accuracy. In fact, we will be able to run such simulations a great many times.

Presumably the ancestors living in the simulated world will have minds and feelings just like us - their minds do not depend on the substrate (e.g. brain, silicon, or other) in which their mental and neurological processes are executed. Now, if the number of simulated ancestors is very large in comparison to the real population of people, then the question is, how do you know you aren't living in such an ancestor simulation right now? Statistically, chances are that you are one of the simulated beings and not a "real" person.

If you accept these hypotheses, then it seems that "above" our simulated world there must be beings which are essentially god-like with respect to us. It is also quite possible that there are nested simulations (simulations within simulations), and that our "gods" have have their own "gods".

 

 

 

 


Al G. Funguy
atheist
Posts: 33
Joined: 2012-01-13
User is offlineOffline
Please just delete this

Please just delete this double post. I'm sorry Sad

 

### no problem. thanks for letting us know

### mod edit. deleted duplicate content post.  


Philosophicus
Philosophicus's picture
Posts: 362
Joined: 2009-12-16
User is offlineOffline
...

Al G. Funguy wrote:

I'm not going to say this is true, but I find it plausible and interesting.

Let me paraphrase an argument by Nick Bostrom: http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

If you believe that human technology will continue to advance, and that we will colonize the solar system and beyond, then there will eventually come a point where we will be able to build enormously powerful computers (e.g. computers with the mass of Jupiter). Look at how far video games have come in 20 years and consider what could be done with such a computer. With a sufficiently powerful computer, we will be able to run simulations of our ancestors' lives with accuracy. In fact, we will be able to run such simulations a great many times.

Presumably the ancestors living in the simulated world will have minds and feelings just like us - their minds do not depend on the substrate (e.g. brain, silicon, or other) in which their mental and neurological processes are executed. Now, if the number of simulated ancestors is very large in comparison to the real population of people, then the question is, how do you know you aren't living in such an ancestor simulation right now? Statistically, chances are that you are one of the simulated beings and not a "real" person.

If you accept these hypotheses, then it seems that "above" our simulated world there must be beings which are essentially god-like with respect to us. It is also quite possible that there are nested simulations (simulations within simulations), and that our "gods" have have their own "gods". 

It's interesting.  It also runs into the same problems as other theisms -- a lack of evidence.  Our technology will continue to advance, and our descendants will probably colonize the solar system and other galaxies, and build supercomputers. 

The first problem is finding the data of their ancestor's lives.  How would our descendants acquire complete data of all our experiences and memories?  Maybe our earthly descendants will develop a way with neurotechnology to do this and leave records for future reincarnation, but the people that lived before the technology was developed wouldn't have neurological records.

You said, "...[I]f the number of simulated ancestors is very large in comparison to the real population of people, then the question is, how do you know you aren't living in such an ancestor simulation right now?"  The question doesn't follow from the first part of your sentence.  It's possible that we're living in their simulation right now, but the size of their database of sims relative to their real population doesn't influence the likelihood that we're sims.

 

 


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13675
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
Not interesting to me at

Not interesting to me at all.

Thoughts require a material process. Just like you cannot run without legs. Running is not a thing itself, but is the end result of the material process of legs moving.

Thus claims of ANY disembodied thinking entity is absurd.

God/s/entities/super natural, are nothing but the product of human imagination. They are merely anthropomorphism in projecting human qualities via fantasy on the world around us.

It is born out of credulity and sugar pill thinking. It is a mental gap filling placebo in an attempt to make sense of the world around us. It is myth making. It is escapism in an attempt to replace our parents and ignore our finite existence.

"The God Delusion" By Richard Dawkins explains this in his book as the "moth mistaking the light bulb for the natural moonlight it guides itself by.

Another book that explains why god belief is merely in our heads is "The New Atheism" By Victor Stinger.

Non material beings are nothing but fantasy, human invented superstition. There never was a god/s and never will be a god/s. There are merely humans who make myth up and falsely believe it to be fact.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13675
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
And as far as the sci fi

And as far as the sci fi woo. This is Star Trec meets Mormonism. Claptrap worthy of Klingons worshiping the Force in Utah while building temples in Area 51.

Once you start postulating non material beings, you lose. The future should be wide open as far as discovery. But lets shed the superstition and myth and si fi garbage so we don't screw up our data.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13675
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
This is on par with Alchemy.

This is on par with Alchemy. While it is true that we can simulate biological life and regrow cells, you are still talking about postulating that a computer will be able to manipulate and or replicate atoms down to the quark in a human body. Utter claptrap. No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark. Much less simulate an entire population or the entire universe.

This is the same as claiming the transporter from Star Trec will be possible.

There is a reality one has to face once they KNOW what a single atom consists of. Once you know that and know how complex they become, just in a single cell organism, much less an entire human body, to postulate that we are a result of a video game simulation is absurd. All you have done at this point is replaced an ancient god superstition with computers being gods.

This is merely new age si fi woo, it is still gap filling fantasy slapped with new packaging.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13675
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
This is on par with Alchemy.

This is on par with Alchemy. While it is true that we can simulate biological life and regrow cells, you are still talking about postulating that a computer will be able to manipulate and or replicate atoms down to the quark in a human body. Utter claptrap. No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark. Much less simulate an entire population or the entire universe.

This is the same as claiming the transporter from Star Trec will be possible.

There is a reality one has to face once they KNOW what a single atom consists of. Once you know that and know how complex they become, just in a single cell organism, much less an entire human body, to postulate that we are a result of a video game simulation is absurd. All you have done at this point is replaced an ancient god superstition with computers being gods.

This is merely new age si fi woo, it is still gap filling fantasy slapped with new packaging.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


digitalbeachbum
atheistRational VIP!
digitalbeachbum's picture
Posts: 3207
Joined: 2007-10-15
User is offlineOffline
Brian37 wrote:This is on par

Brian37 wrote:

This is on par with Alchemy. While it is true that we can simulate biological life and regrow cells, you are still talking about postulating that a computer will be able to manipulate and or replicate atoms down to the quark in a human body. Utter claptrap. No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark. Much less simulate an entire population or the entire universe.

While I agree it is farfetched, it isn't completely lost with the idea it might happen.

I'm sure people in thousands of years ago never thought they would be able to fly in the sky or go to the moon, yet, we eventualy did.

And you don't need to have every quark in alignment to have a replication of the human. Are all your atoms in the same exact location within your body from last evening to this morning? No.

It is rational to think that memories and living organs can still be replicated with out having every single last detail of every quark in the same exact position in order to get the same result.

 

Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.

-Scott Adams


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13675
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
digitalbeachbum

digitalbeachbum wrote:

Brian37 wrote:

This is on par with Alchemy. While it is true that we can simulate biological life and regrow cells, you are still talking about postulating that a computer will be able to manipulate and or replicate atoms down to the quark in a human body. Utter claptrap. No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark. Much less simulate an entire population or the entire universe.

While I agree it is farfetched, it isn't completely lost with the idea it might happen.

I'm sure people in thousands of years ago never thought they would be able to fly in the sky or go to the moon, yet, we eventualy did.

And you don't need to have every quark in alignment to have a replication of the human. Are all your atoms in the same exact location within your body from last evening to this morning? No.

It is rational to think that memories and living organs can still be replicated with out having every single last detail of every quark in the same exact position in order to get the same result.

 

I am sorry, postulating something is merely postulating something. Until testing can be applied and it can be kicked around by method and STILL come out smelling like roses, it is merely mental masturbation.

I also don't buy this because it also has the baggage of infinite regress. It has the same problem of starting from complexity as a god. If such a super computer could exist, then it would need something even more complex to simulate it. Not to mention where would the energy come from to run it? Not to mention the sheer amount of atoms in one single body that that computer would have to "simulate" down to the quark.

If someone wants to believe that we are the result of a super computer simulation, to me they might as well believe in the old myths. This is merely superstition with new packaging.

Instead of the same old gap filling we reject rightfully, lets just skip it, and stick with current data and established data and only "postulate" based, not on our own wishful thinking, but on what we know now. That is the only rational way to look forward. SKIP THE gap filling.

Newton got some things right, but he got Alchemy wrong. Gene Rodenbery did NOT invent the modern cell phone, he merely took the REAL postulation of what scientists wanted to work towards and made the idea popular. But there will never be Klingons or Tribbles or transporters and our universe is no more the simulation of a computer than it is  the result of a  god.

What we don't know now should not cause us to let our brains fall out and fall for the same woo the old school falls for.

If you are going to buy into this, then all you are doing is making a god out of a computer and making the computer the god. It would still have the same problems as a claim.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Philosophicus
Philosophicus's picture
Posts: 362
Joined: 2009-12-16
User is offlineOffline
...

Al G. Funguy wrote:

Presumably the ancestors living in the simulated world will have minds and feelings just like us - their minds do not depend on the substrate (e.g. brain, silicon, or other) in which their mental and neurological processes are executed.

Why wouldn't they build the simulated people's minds entirely dependent on the substrate?  What good does this do for the possibility that we're in a computer simulation?  The computer simulation possibility (like The Matrix) doesn't require mind-body dualism.  You can talk of the scenario in physicalist terms. 

 

 


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10687
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
Brian37 wrote:And as far as

Brian37 wrote:

And as far as the sci fi woo. This is Star Trec meets Mormonism.

No, it's the Twilight Zone. Or the Outer Limits. Either way, I guarantee there's an episode remarkably similar to this.

However, a simulation doesn't require minds, it requires simulation of minds. I say this is over the top because there is no reason or indication that a simulation would be capable of any level of self awareness, and there would be no need for it to have such in a simulation. It isn't necessarily impossible, but it is impractical and unlikely. And irrelevant to day to day life.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Philosophicus
Philosophicus's picture
Posts: 362
Joined: 2009-12-16
User is offlineOffline
...

Vastet wrote:
Brian37 wrote:

And as far as the sci fi woo. This is Star Trec meets Mormonism.

No, it's the Twilight Zone. Or the Outer Limits. Either way, I guarantee there's an episode remarkably similar to this. However, a simulation doesn't require minds, it requires simulation of minds. I say this is over the top because there is no reason or indication that a simulation would be capable of any level of self awareness, and there would be no need for it to have such in a simulation. It isn't necessarily impossible, but it is impractical and unlikely. And irrelevant to day to day life.

It reminds me more of The Matrix.  It's possible, but it's unfalsifiable and about as likely to be proven as God or any other deity.  Call me an agnostic acomputer simulationist, or an agnostic amatrix possibilityist.  I don't know and I don't believe because of lack of evidence.

The research into the neuroscience of consciousness doesn't look promising, but they might figure it out in a few million years -- that's a lot of time for research and development.  Look at how far computer science has come since Turing, then add 100 million years of R&D in artifical intelligence.  This still doesn't mean that we are artificial intelligence programs, but it's based on more knowledge than the ancient theologies, namely, cognitive science. 

The scenario of the programmers could involve them evolving by natural selection in a universe created by a big bang, then doing R&D in cognitive science for a few million years until their AI technology is sufficient to make conscious sims -- us.  It's plausible and based on current data, but lacks evidence.

 


Blip
Posts: 3
Joined: 2012-01-14
User is offlineOffline
Perhaps read the paper before commenting

It would serve some people here well if they made a decent attempt to read and understand Bostrom's Simulation Argument rather than making comments in ignorance.

Quote:
It also runs into the same problems as other theisms -- a lack of evidence.

In a way, but it is definitely not in the same class as traditional religious arguments. In his paper he makes an evidenced case that the technology to replicate human sensory experience will likely be achievable. You can disagree with the case he makes, but it isn't the same as invoking ineffable beings.

Quote:
How would our descendants acquire complete data of all our experiences and memories?

That isn't how the argument works, it does not rely on replicating people exactly. This should be self evident from a quick examination of the formula the argument rests on, as it makes no distinction between people of different historical periods in calculating the fraction of simulated people. All that is required is that simulated people be sufficiently human-like, their individual experiences are of little matter.

Quote:
You said, "...[I]f the number of simulated ancestors is very large in comparison to the real population of people, then the question is, how do you know you aren't living in such an ancestor simulation right now?"  The question doesn't follow from the first part of your sentence.  It's possible that we're living in their simulation right now, but the size of their database of sims relative to their real population doesn't influence the likelihood that we're sims.

It doesn't appear to follow to you because you clearly have not read or understood the paper. 

Quote:
Thoughts require a material process. Just like you cannot run without legs. Running is not a thing itself, but is the end result of the material process of legs moving.

Thus claims of ANY disembodied thinking entity is absurd.

In what way is the operation of a computer not a material process? Regardless, the above is only your assertion and your conclusion is only an opinion.

Quote:
While it is true that we can simulate biological life and regrow cells, you are still talking about postulating that a computer will be able to manipulate and or replicate atoms down to the quark in a human body.

The argument does not say this at all, you clearly have not read it. The argument suggests that the operation of the human nervous system can be simulated with much less information than something like the Bekenstein bound would indicate, because research indicates that cognition is a classical process and so things like the operation of quarks and even quantum mechanics appear to be irrelevant to a simulation of this sort.

 

Quote:
I also don't buy this because it also has the baggage of infinite regress. It has the same problem of starting from complexity as a god. If such a super computer could exist, then it would need something even more complex to simulate it. Not to mention where would the energy come from to run it? Not to mention the sheer amount of atoms in one single body that that computer would have to "simulate" down to the quark.

The argument makes a case that a simulation of the sort it is talking about would require something like 1036 operations. Why so little? Precisely because it doesn't have to simulate everything exactly. The information content of human perception is something that has subjected to solid quantification in the literature, so the estimates in the paper aren't obviously unreasonable.

 

Frankly the level of criticism evident in the comments above is appalling. There are many ways to criticize the argument, but at least try to understand what you are criticizing.


Philosophicus
Philosophicus's picture
Posts: 362
Joined: 2009-12-16
User is offlineOffline
...

Hi, Blip!  Welcome      I didn't read Nick Bostrom's essay.  I trusted the original poster's paraphrase; apparently he didn't read or understand the paper either!  I do like Nick Bostrom's interest in transhumanism though.  That stuff intrigues me, and they're basing in on science and reason.  It's not like the ufologists -- it's like Carl Sagan and SETI.  It's important to have visions for the future.  Gene Roddenberry and Carl Sagan understood this. 

 

 


Al G. Funguy
atheist
Posts: 33
Joined: 2012-01-13
User is offlineOffline
>It's interesting.  It also

>It's interesting.  It also runs into the same problems as other theisms -- a lack of evidence

 

I agree this is all very speculative. But there may be a way to determine whether we are in fact living in a simulation.

One way to do this may be to arrange for a physical process that's complicated enough to crash or corrupt the simulation. Smashing a tremendous number of particles together might not suffice - the simulation might cheat and used simplified processing that we might not be able to detect. But if we did a complex mathematical calculation on a quantum computer, say, factoring an enormous composite number, and if we could prove that much quicker algorithms do not exist, then we could be sure the simulation wasn't cheating because we could easily check the results for correctness.

I'm not sure what would happen if we succeeded in affecting the simulation. It might necessitate intervention by the simulation's administrators. It might slow the simulation down in the real world's time, but not in a way that we would notice. It might terminate the simulation.

BTW, Nick Bostrom doesn't give the argument a theist slant like I did. He allows for other possibilities, like the chance the civilizations simply wipe themselves out before reaching the level of technology necessary to run ancestor simulations. Or we may never reach that level of technology.

Perhaps ancestor simulations will be outlawed in the future. Arguably, creating sentient beings in a simulated "bottle universe" without notifying them of their condition may be considered immoral.

>The first problem is finding the data of their ancestor's lives.

The simulated beings just need to have human-like minds for the argument to work.

>Thoughts require a material process... Thus claims of ANY disembodied thinking entity is absurd.

You're only saying this because current computers have about as much processing power as an insect.

I think there can be a simulated being living "in" a computer, and there may in fact be means to talk with the simulated being. If it looks like it thinks, and sounds like it thinks, then I'd say it thinks. Unless you think there is some kind of magic soul that you need to be a thinking being?

>And as far as the sci fi woo. This is Star Trec meets Mormonism. Claptrap worthy of Klingons worshiping the Force in Utah while building temples in Area 51.

Not really. Nick Bostrom is an Oxford philosopher.

>No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark.

The latest evidence I've seen suggests that human brains do not even depend on macroscopic quantum effects to work. You wouldn't need to simulate things as finely as you're suggesting.


Al G. Funguy
atheist
Posts: 33
Joined: 2012-01-13
User is offlineOffline
Check out Orion's Arm

 

> I do like Nick Bostrom's interest in transhumanism though. That stuff intrigues me, and they're basing in on science and reason

If you are interested in transhumanism then the Orion's Arm site may interest you.

It is like wikipedia but about a fictional, future universe. In the Orion's Arm universe, the gods are man-made (or rather, posthuman-made) artificial intelligences of astounding power. Even though it is fictional it still has some science mixed in and I find it intellectually stimulating.

I think I may be suffering from this, LOL http://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oaeg-view-article&egart_uid=4d7fc88a0411a

"Simulationism anxiety disorder 

A mental disorder in which the sufferer becomes preoccupied to a degree which interferes with their daily life on whether what they experience as the most fundamental level of reality is, in fact, a bottleworld simulation running on a substrate of a more fundamental reality's computronium"

 


Blip
Posts: 3
Joined: 2012-01-14
User is offlineOffline
Philosophicus wrote:Hi,

Philosophicus wrote:
Hi, Blip!  Welcome      I didn't read Nick Bostrom's essay.  I trusted the original poster's paraphrase; apparently he didn't read or understand the paper either!  I do like Nick Bostrom's interest in transhumanism though.  That stuff intrigues me, and they're basing in on science and reason.  It's not like the ufologists -- it's like Carl Sagan and SETI.  It's important to have visions for the future.  Gene Roddenberry and Carl Sagan understood this.

Hello! Yes, the OP's summary is poor and a somewhat confused take on the actual argument, but given that he is referring to a published academic work respondents should really take the time to read the source material. To be honest I don't have much time for this argument myself, but this is because I have read the paper carefully and think that the mathematical construction it rests on is flawed beyond repair, not to mention other (non-philosophical) issues with the argument made in the paper that simulations of the sort it discusses are possible. On the other hand I think Bostrom's more general work in observer selection effects, of which the Simulation Argument is one example, is certainly interesting.


Blip
Posts: 3
Joined: 2012-01-14
User is offlineOffline
Al G. Funguy wrote:One way

Al G. Funguy wrote:
One way to do this may be to arrange for a physical process that's complicated enough to crash or corrupt the simulation. Smashing a tremendous number of particles together might not suffice - the simulation might cheat and used simplified processing that we might not be able to detect. But if we did a complex mathematical calculation on a quantum computer, say, factoring an enormous composite number, and if we could prove that much quicker algorithms do not exist, then we could be sure the simulation wasn't cheating because we could easily check the results for correctness.

How would one tell whether such an occurrence was the result of simulation or a natural aberration? It needn't even be classified as an aberration, but could be subsumed into the canon of physics for that world in that doing X produces effect Y.

Quote:
>The first problem is finding the data of their ancestor's lives.

The simulated beings just need to have human-like minds for the argument to work.

I mentioned this above, but I am not comfortable with such a loose definition. What precisely does human-like mean and why choose that particular definition over any other. The way Bostrom glosses over the reference class issue is something I intensely dislike about this argument.

Quote:
>No matter how powerful a computer gets, you are not going to get it to have the ability to arrange the billions of atoms in one human body all the way down to the quark.

The latest evidence I've seen suggests that human brains do not even depend on macroscopic quantum effects to work. You wouldn't need to simulate things as finely as you're suggesting.

Judging by the literature cognition is a function of classical processes and not quantum mechanical in nature (in the vein of Penrose and Hameroff's ideas or otherwise).