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Simulation Scenarios Barry Dainton.

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1 Simulation Scenarios Barry Dainton

2 Preliminary (crude) definitions: real v. simulated
An experience is simulated if it is produced by non-standard methods in a controlled fashion non-standard = NOT by bodies/brains interacting with physical environment Eg. Demons, computers A life (or part of one) is virtual if it is composed of simulated experiences.

3 Just suppose: That when the universe is considered as a whole, from a God’s eye vantage point, simulated lives greatly outnumber real lives Call this scenario: ‘simulation dominance’

4 Simulation Dominance virtual
real sum total of conscious lives (in entire universe, all times)

5 Simulation Argument (one form)
Simulation Dominance is probable No reason to think: human lives are less likely to be simulated than other types early C21-type human lives are less likely to be simulated than other types So: it is probable that our lives are simulated.

6 The Simulation Argument (Bostrom)
Simulation Hypothesis: for every non-virtual early 21st century human life there are many subjectively indistinguishable (or broadly similar) virtual lives REAL VIRTUAL

7 Simulation Argument: cont.
Your conviction that your life is non-virtual is no better founded than anybody else’s. So: if the Simulation Hypothesis is true, the odds of your life being non-virtual are low (e.g. 1 in 10)

8 Everyone believes their own lives to be real, non-virtual …
I’m real! I’m real! I’m real! I’m real! I’m real! R R I’m real! I’m real! I’m real! I’m real!

9 Simulation Argument: conclusion
High probability Low probability ‘SH is true’ ‘My life is real’ Low probability High probability Probability assignments (not to scale)

10 An old theme with a new twist
The Matrix Tipler The Truman Show Are we leading virtual lives? Bostrom Vanilla Sky Are we living in a simulation? Chalmers Permutation City McGinn … and sudden notoriety The 13th Floor

11 ‘Could my life be a simulation?’ Logically Threat = idle Possible
(merely) Descartes? Nomologically possible (merely) Standard vat-brains? Most sci-fi? Threat = real! Simulation Argument Nomologically possible (& quite likely!) Tipler, Bostrom, posthumanists

12 “Simulation Argument”
My aims here: “Simulation Argument” conclusion: take simulation menace (somewhat) seriously extend range address queries explore ramifications

13 Next: Why believe menacing simulations might exist in the required (vast) numbers?
6 billion actual 60 billion? virtual Type-2003 day/life streams 600 billion??

14 Another distinction: S-simulations H-simulations Two methods
of simulation generation S-simulations H-simulations Two types of simulation

15 S-simulations: H-simulations: COMPUTER ALONE COMPUTER + BRAIN
conscious lives generated by running software on computer (NOT brains!) H-simulations: conscious lives produced by directly tampering with neural hardware Matrix-style vat-brain COMPUTER ALONE COMPUTER + BRAIN

16 S-sims: the high-road ‘posthumanism’ computers of VAST power
repositories of most conscious life

17 Tipler Bostrom (one of many) Planetary-mass computer many simulations
‘universal computer’ many simulations of every possible human stream of consciousness (of finite duration) Bostrom Planetary-mass computer 1042 ops Time required for running of ‘ancestor simulation’ = 10-7 seconds (one of many)

18 ‘Ancestor simulation’ = simulation of entire mental history of humankind
Typical human brain: operations per second = Ops required for 1 ancestor simulation = 100 billion humans x 50 years/human x 3 million secs per year x 1014 – 1017 ops per brain per second (assumption: humankind superseded in a few centuries)

19 S-simulations: low road

20 Desktop PC Power: next few years
computational power time Predictions: Kurzweil, Moravec 100 million ops Supercomputer (circa 2000) = 10 million ops typical human brain ‘Moore’s Law’: computational power per $ doubles every two years

21 S-simulations: low road
Small-scale sims; on small machines (e.g. desktop) In large numbers … entertainment: God-games (‘The Sims’) research: historical, political E.g. exploring counterfactual histories Over many years (a few centuries) = billions of menacing simulations

22 God games: ‘The Sims’, ‘Civilization’, etc.
Currently, their ‘inhabitants’ are not conscious In future: that could change more processing power/memory more autonomous characters -> more entertaining spectacles

23 An ordinary (virtual) family: ‘The Sims’



26 Sample numbers: 20 million simulated T(2003) day-streams per year
assume: very large future population For 100,000 years assume: quite long future Total of: 2000 billion menacing d-streams So: significant simulation menace (50%) approx 2000 billion actual 2003 d-streams

27 BUT! S-simulations: how great a menace? programming time know-how
virtual lives in VAST numbers computational power inclination BUT! presupposes very controversial theory of mind

28 Q: How worrying is the computational simulation menace? It’s not!
Very! classical functionalism materialism non-reductive functionalism classical dualism Shoemaker Lycan Loar Chalmers Descartes Smart/Place Searle Strawson McGinn

29 Broadening ‘appeal’ of Sim. Arg.
Other sources of menacing simulations H-SIMS sims run on brains

30 Neural interface technology


32 H-SIMS: high road brain-computer interface fully immersive VR
gene manipulation nano- engineered fully immersive VR psychology perception

33 H-SIMS: low road controlled hallucinations implant drug assisted
exploit known brain potential fully immersive VR

34 One scenario: VR in education
Imagine: a typical 23rd century history lesson Topic: life as an ordinary 21st century person Method: fully immersive virtual reality ‘trip’ to the past Spend a few hours AS an ordinary 21st century person

35 H-sims: will the technologies ever be developed?
It is hard for us to envisage how (say) brain-machine interfaces of the kind required could be designed & implemented. But: remember Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Third Law’: ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ Think: what would a 19th century person have made of modern computers, atomic weapons, genetic manipulation, etc.

36 H-sims technology: further reasons for ‘optimism’
Neuroscience: we still have much to learn Research in nano-technology, programmable matter continues apace Money no problem: entertainment industry computer games bigger than movies MMOG phenomenon: indicator of what’s to come?

37 ‘massive, multiplayer, online
MMOG ‘massive multiplayer online gaming’ ‘persistent world games’ Ultima Online Everquest Anarchy Online ……. participants = 120,000 (simul) notoriously addictive MMPORG ‘massive, multiplayer, online role-playing game

38 MMOG: screenshots


40 MMOG MMPORG $$$$ Big money in sim technology!

41 H-sims: relevant prediction
‘VR trips to the past’ if possible … VERY numerous

42 VR-vacations: sample numbers
Actual 2003 d-streams: 2 x 1012 Assume: every sim-age person takes 1 trip to early 21st century 10,000 sim-age generations average sim-age population = 10 billion Yields: 1.0 x 1014 virtual streams So: 1/50 chance of your life being real

43 Menacing Simulations: further possible source
MODAL REALISM menacing S-sims = infinite menacing H-sims = infinite Lewis, Tegmark

44 ∞ ∞ real lives virtual lives 50% chance of virtuality MODAL REALISM

45 Where do we stand? A. Humankind will have a long and successful future. B. Technology will make realistic sims possible, and these will be created frequently, in varied forms. tension C. You and I exist in the early 21st century tension D. Modal Realism is true.

46 ‘A &B ‘C true’ true’ High probability More confident ‘These
experiences occur in 2003’ ‘A &B true’ ‘C true’ Less confident Low probability

47 Pragmatic Theology Ethics Sim Arg: implications Epistemology Metaphysics

48 Scepticism: traditional response
‘Of course this life is real!’ COMBAT! establish that concern is unwarranted

49 Sim Era Scepticism: menace of the virtual = very real
Assume: reality is largely as our experience suggests (physical law, history, etc.) Take a few VR-trips: threat will feel real … significant probability that your life = virtual

50 Objection: Sim-scepticism = self-undermining Sim threat = not real

51 Recall the basic line of reasoning And see how it defeats itself …

52 My life is non-virtual Simulation Argument My world has properties F, G .. High odds that I am living in a simulation

53 ? My life is non-virtual Simulation Argument My world has
properties F, G High odds that I am living in a simulation ?

54 Steps to a vicious, epistemically unstable, loop:
Certain beliefs about the character of the world lead you to believe that it is likely that you are living in a simulation. But: the latter belief undermines the former beliefs If you believe you inhabit a sim, why believe your experience is a reliable guide to how things really are? Your grounds for assigning a high probability to the sim hypothesis are no more

55 Loop concluded and relaunched …
So you no longer have reason to believe you are living in a simulation. You conclude: things are much as they seem. But: if things are much as they seem, there is a good chance that you are living in a simulation …. And the loop repeats ….

56 One response: entrenchment
Anyone who initially assigns high probability to sim hypothesis is always returned to their initial state So: rejecting the Sim Arg and ‘returning to reality’ is is not a stable option

57 A problematic (& puzzling) symmetry Rejecting Sim Arg = not a stable option Accepting Sim Arg = not a stable option

58 Question: Maybe… Rejecting Sim Arg = not a stable option
Accepting Sim Arg = not a stable option Can the Sim Arg leave one in an epistemically stable situation? Maybe…

59 A suspect equation…. No Yes Traditional demon hypothesis Naturalistic
Simulation Misrepresentation Traditional demon hypothesis Naturalistic simulation hypotheses No Yes

60 Simulation Realism: variants
Full: simulation is perfect duplication of actual world Partial: simulation is accurate in some respects physics biology history personalities

61 S-realism: Simulations with high S-realism resemble the actual world in ways relevant to the assessment of the Simulation Hypothesis (i.e. that there are high odds that your life is virtual) laws of nature, technological possibilities, social trends, etc. Modest claim: at least 75% of current fictions (films, novels, computer games) have high S-realism Modest prediction: at least 50% of future fictions will have high S-realism

62 Steps to an epistemically stable situation
My world is broadly as it seems + low odds that my life is virtual 80% chance I am living in a simulation Sim Arg My world is broadly as it seems + good chance that my life is a simulation Simulations with high S-realism= 50% 40% chance I am living in a simulation Steps to an epistemically stable situation

63 (a) the world is broadly as I believe it to be (physical laws, history, technological trends)
(b) the probability that I am living in a simulation is quite high Claim: These two beliefs are consistent, provided that under (a) you believe that most future simulations are likely to supply a broadly accurate picture of reality

64 Moving swiftly on …

65 Theology: Problem of Evil
distribution of ‘pointless’ suffering real virtual worlds / lives most evil = directly due to humankind

66 Metaphysics: varieties of VR
H-sims v S-sims Autonomous v. Programmed actions Active v Passive Others are real (active) or merely apparent. Communal v. Individual Original v Replacement Psychology Your own psychology, or another one

67 ‘The Matrix’ = active, communal, original ?
Active – Individual – Original Psy Active – Individual – Replacement Psy Active – Communal – Original Psy Active – Communal – Replacement Psy H or S Passive – Individual – Original Psy Passive – Individual – Replacement Psy Passive – Communal – Original Psy Passive – Communal – Replacement Psy 16 modes ‘The Matrix’ = active, communal, original ?

68 Simulation Scenarios as Metaphysical Hypotheses, not Sceptical Hypotheses (Chalmers)
If we were simulants, most of our beliefs about our world would still be true But: our world would have a different nature than we commonly believe e.g. physical things are constituted by computational processes Some plausibility for COMMUNAL sims

69 Pragmatic Issues: Should I be Should I act depressed? differently?
My life is unusually interesting: does this increase the odds? My life is boring: does this reduce the odds?

70 The price of fame: high sim odds

71 But my life is too dull …


73 ‘The Sims’ = bestselling computer game for the past three years
No life is too dull!

74 Simulation Ethics Creation Issues Maintenance Issues
Question: might ethical scruples diminish the menace posed by the Simulation Argument?

75 Deception Objection Does the wrong outweigh the gift of existence? Sim subjects are being deceived about their real condition. It’s wrong to deceive in this way. H-sims, VR-vacations: deception = temporary & self-imposed!

76 Future generations will restrict sims to secure their own reality
Self-Interest Objection Can’t guarantee policy will be continued Future generations will restrict sims to secure their own reality Opposing forces: escapism, entertainment industry Realization: innocence cannot be recaptured implications for us …

77 Sim innocence: can’t be regained, but can be simulated
popularity (no. of simulations/visits) 2003 sim age innocence 100,000 AD transition

78 Concluding speculations: Might We Be In a Minority?
don’t take sim threat seriously us sum total of intelligent conscious beings

79 A further (final?) Copernican shift
virtual real sum total of conscious lives

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