Cosmology

“Am I a zombie?” Better question: What those dudes over at New Scientist been smokin’?

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In all seriousness, Michael Brooks asks , “Existence: Am I a zombie?” (New Scientist , 25 July 2011):

It is not so long ago that computers became powerful enough to let us create alternative worlds. We have countless games and simulations that are, effectively, worlds within our world. As technology improves, these simulated worlds will become ever more sophisticated. The “original” universe will eventually be populated by a near-infinite number of advanced, virtual civilisations. It is hard to imagine that they will not contain autonomous, conscious beings. Beings like you and me.

Okay, Brooks, how about this. Yes, we are living in a sim. Better still, we are living in an infinity of nested sims, one inside the other. Hey, this is science! Wheeee!!

Alternatively: Stop. Smoking. That. Now.

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5 Replies to ““Am I a zombie?” Better question: What those dudes over at New Scientist been smokin’?

  1. 1
    Collin says:

    “It is hard to imagine that they will not contain autonomous, conscious beings.”
    Why is this? To me it is very easy to imagine that conscious beings are not running around inside my computer. Call me crazy.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    You’re crazy.

  3. 3
    Ilion says:

    Okay, Brooks, how about this. Yes, we are living in a sim. Better still, we are living in an infinity of nested sims, one inside the other. Hey, this is science!

    Of course, there will never be a computer program that is an “autonomous, conscious being”, for it is logically impossible for mere computation – which is just counting – to *be* a mind. Moreover, computer programs don’t really even compute/count, for even that simple mental task requires a mind which understands what it is doing.

    Yet, if these silly people want to assert – which is to say, express their “religious” (in the sense of ‘superstitious’) faith – that it is logically possible that we will someday build virtual world inhabited by sims which are “autonomous, conscious beings”, then, logically, they need also to assert that *this* world is a virtual world, and we all are sims, created by a person or persons in some “higher-level” world.

    Isn’t it amusing? In trying to define God out of existence, they define away their own reality … and *still* they end up positing the existence a being or beings, who, from our point of view, are indistinguishable from God?

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    of related interest:

    Can a Computer Think? Michael Egnor
    Excerpt: The Turing test isn’t a test of a computer. Computers can’t take tests, because computers can’t think. The Turing test is a test of us. If a computer “passes” it, we fail it. We fail because of our hubris, a delusion that seems to be something original in us. The Turing test is a test of whether human beings have succumbed to the astonishingly naive hubris that we can create souls.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....45141.html

    ,,,and then if your a professional philosopher, you actually get paid to think this all out,,,:

    ARE YOU LIVING IN A COMPUTER SIMULATION? BY NICK BOSTROM

    Department of Philosophy, Oxford University

    VII. CONCLUSION

    A technologically mature “posthuman” civilization would have enormous computing power. Based on this empirical fact, the simulation argument shows that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage is very close to zero; (2) The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero; (3) The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.

    If (1) is true, then we will almost certainly go extinct before reaching posthumanity. If (2) is true, then there must be a strong convergence among the courses of advanced civilizations so that virtually none contains any relatively wealthy individuals who desire to run ancestor-simulations and are free to do so. If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation. In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one’s credence roughly evenly between (1), (2), and (3).
    Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.
    http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    i.e. seems even professional philosophers can fall for the ‘astonishingly naive hubris that we can create souls.’

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