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Exploring the edge.
Immortal since Dec 19, 2007
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The Global Brain
"It is not guilty pride but the ceaselessly reawakened instinct of the game which calls forth new worlds." (Heraclitus Reloaded)
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    Are we real ?
    Project: Psychedelic Society
    Watch these 4 fascinating short videos about the fundamental riddles of existence. Some food for thought...

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    josh     Thu, Nov 13, 2008  Permanent link
    fascinating videos. the exploration and argument on the topic of an intelligent designer was very well stated. i think i would like to watch these again and create a more well thought out conversational comment. ... more to come
    aeonbeat     Thu, Nov 13, 2008  Permanent link
    it has a final fifth parth

    Spaceweaver     Fri, Nov 14, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks gouranga, haven't noticed this one.
    LED     Sat, Nov 15, 2008  Permanent link
    I love to watch those videos!
    There is a conversation between Kevin Kelly and Ken Wilbur, a new age theorist, which as I see is very interesting as well. It's not about the same but has related issues.
    Technology as a Spiritual Force
    "Our job is to surprise God." — Kevin Kelly
    dangor     Mon, Nov 17, 2008  Permanent link
    Nice post spaceweaver, I really enjoyed that video. It gave me a new perspective on the "computer simulation" perspective of reality.

    The question I have is this: if an intelligent being created a powerful computer that could simulate a world that itself contained intelligent beings that could create a similarly powerful computer, and so on and so forth, then would that not lead to an infinite amount of universes contained in that original computer? And if that is the case, then how could the original computer store this infinite amount of information, for even a quantum computer's memory is, in theory, finite? I don't think that this problem can be brushed aside because that very idea is premised on our own knowledge of computers and their possibilities, and I have never heard a computer scientist speak of a computer with infinite memory.

    Perhaps the way around this problem would be a computer with a memory that is somehow organized using fractal math, so that an infinite amount of information could be stored in a finite space, but that is merely speculation.
    Spaceweaver     Mon, Nov 17, 2008  Permanent link
    Dangor: Of course you are right to point that the hypothesis of a simulated universe within a simulated universe ad, infinitum is fantastic, but it is fantastic only relative to our limited conceptual thought system and therefore cannot be dismissed on the grounds of our bewilderment alone. I see it as a possible window to expand the horizons of thought.

    More specifically regarding your question, you can replace the concept of computer as an object with the concept of computation as a process. Suppose we could develop a computational process that is self replicating, or a computational process that generates its own memory and CPU resources in the course of being executed. Such process could start with an initial limited resources and transform space, time, matter and energy around it into more resources. Such computing process computes, among other things, its own expansion of resources. If this looks far fetched, think about the evolution of life. Life as we know it might well be such kind of computational process: it is self generative, and self expanding, organizing space, time, matter and energy into living patterns first on this planet, and lately, through he agency of human beings, even beyond this planet.

    Beyond this point, I think this simulation hypothesis does point towards the possibility that our own cognitive processes are inherently recursive. The so called computer upon which this whole universe is simulated is no other than our own mind.
    folkert     Tue, Nov 18, 2008  Permanent link
    Fun to watch, though to me this searching for a "creator" is way too anthropomorphic and of course we can see reality as a computational process — it's the closest metaphor we have at the moment, but that will be updated immediately once we have a new set of metaphors, because things will always turn out to be a bit more complex than we imagine them to be at any given time. In some ways the back & forth about an intelligent designer or not feels too much like religious bickering and trying to get away from the church — people tirelessly searching for a purpose they can understand, one that fits in their current capacity of comprehension. This series seems to me conservative and dramatized: I think the nature of the universe is so vastly different from what we can suppose that it seems a waste of time and energy to work from the pompous notion that we are the most intelligent creature and our brains are the most complex system in the universe. I don't really buy that an intelligence like ours can exist inside an unintelligent environment.

    Nick Bostrom said it in part 5: "these kinds of arguments show at the same time the limitations to the reach of the human intellect."

    I also do not understand the idea that the laws of nature would be so perfectly fine-tuned that they exactly and precisely allow for our existence. It seems to me that things make a lot more sense when approached from the opposite angle where we exist precisely because the laws of nature are the way they are, not the other way around. We are a direct result, or symptom, of the processes that create reality. We are part of reality, not some stand-alone phenomenon that can miraculously exist inside the universe because its laws are so perfect for us — such an ontology can only lead to a creator.

    We are just one experiment exploring the infinity of abstract possibility.

    Thankfully Spaceweaver interprets it in a much more productive and inspired way:

    Beyond this point, I think this simulation hypothesis does point towards the possibility that our own cognitive processes are inherently recursive. The so called computer upon which this whole universe is simulated is no other than our own mind.

    One of the more interesting riffs on this subject that I've come across is Greg Egan's Permutation City, where in a computer-simulated reality, intelligent life in the form of complex swarms of insects has evolved as a result of an experiment by the inhabitants (digital copies of humans) — quoted from the synopsis:

    The citizens of Permutation City were on the verge of making contact with the intelligent life that had evolved on Planet Lamberti. However, a town hall vote restricted the Autoverse scholars from making contact until the insects had independently hypothesized the existence of a creator.

    Durham confides in Maria that he doesn't believe the insects will ever seriously consider the concept of a creator and intends to make forbidden first contact with the life of Planet Lamberti. He believes this is necessary because he's no longer able to freeze the Autoverse simulation and worried that the rules of their simulated universe are breaking down.

    What he doesn't realize is that the intelligence of Planet Lamberti has exceeded the complexity of their own world, and that Lamberti has ceased to be defined as their simulation — they are now defined in terms of Autoverse physics rather than the other way around. Shortly after failing to convince Planet Lamberti of the creator theory, the insects discover a set of field equations with a stable solution for each of their universe's elements.

    To the citizens' alarm, Permutation City and eventually the entire processor-network begins to collapse into nothingness. Their processor network is no longer necessary to the existence of the Autoverse; there is a better solution that has superseded it, rendering the processor network literally nonexistent. This is a kind of reverse ontological argument: rather than the subjective, conscious necessity of God virtually creating him, his non-necessity destroys him.

    Spaceweaver     Tue, Nov 18, 2008  Permanent link
    I love that Folkert! Permutation City is one of my all times favorites. I absolutely agree to your criticism of the philosophical speculations presented in the videos. Anyway, if they reflect anything of significance, they seem to reflect the nature of our thought processes.
    txnm2015     Tue, Jun 2, 2009  Permanent link
    where can i see these short films today?because it say that it was removed