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Argument from possible simulation

connick

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excreationist said:
What do you think of my argument that either we are aware or we are a philosophical zombie? Either we experience the sensation of qualia or we don't. Even if the qualia is wrong we would still have the sensation of awareness..... the point of this is that we can know something about our simulation... (that we are aware) (or at least I am aware, I can't prove your awareness)
I think that if we assume we are not in a simulation that one's awareness (yours for you and mine for me) is undeniable, but that any other apparently aware being could be a so-called philosophical zombie. I think you'll agree with this.

What I think you might not agree with is what I've stated before, which is that if we assume we could be in a simulation, then all bets are off. Our ideas of awareness, existence, logic, etc., may be completely wrong. As I've also said before, I can't even begin to imagine what this would mean, but if everything is potentially a delusion, then even our sensation of awareness is vulnerable to doubt. I can't fathom a way in which I could feel aware but not truly be aware, but if there is some unknowable outside world, why not? Surely, my lack of imagination does not limit what could be true in an external world. Maybe logical concepts like identity, non-contradiction and the excluded middle don't hold true in the outer world. Something could be and not be at the same time. Maybe the very concept of "being" doesn't have a correlate in the outer world.

Because I axiomatically reject the possibility of being in a simulation, I don't have to wonder much about what it would mean for awareness to be a delusion. Only by positing the possibility of being in a simulation (as you have done) do you open the door to doubting absolutely everything.

excreationist said:
Maybe it is flawed but so would other existence of God arguments be yet the other arguments still exist. I still think there would be a creator of the simulation - "a person or thing that brings something into existence". Or do you think a simulation can bring itself into existence? Though then it could be said that the simulation is its own creator....
See above. When we accept the premise that all could be doubted, then all (from soup to nuts) can be doubted.

Here's a reversal of the question you asked that might help you see what I'm getting at:

What is impossible in an unknown and unknowable outside world?
 

excreationist

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I think that if we assume we are not in a simulation that one's awareness (yours for you and mine for me) is undeniable, but that any other apparently aware being could be a so-called philosophical zombie. I think you'll agree with this.
How do you know you/I would be definitely aware if this isn't a simulation? I think the answer is that we have the sensation of awareness and qualia. If we hallucinate then the contents of the awareness is a delusion but I'd still say it involves the sensation of awareness.

.....if everything is potentially a delusion, then even our sensation of awareness is vulnerable to doubt. I can't fathom a way in which I could feel aware but not truly be aware, but if there is some unknowable outside world, why not? ..... Because I axiomatically reject the possibility of being in a simulation, I don't have to wonder much about what it would mean for awareness to be a delusion. Only by positing the possibility of being in a simulation (as you have done) do you open the door to doubting absolutely everything.
How can you be sure our possible non-simulation universe doesn't also involve unknowable elements (like the invisible pink unicorn) that also somehow make the sensation of awareness not real?

BTW do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human
 

excreationist

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And another question could be what does the word awareness even mean if it is posited that everything we think we are aware of doesn't actually exist.
Could you also answer this?

Do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human
 

skepticalbip

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And another question could be what does the word awareness even mean if it is posited that everything we think we are aware of doesn't actually exist.
Could you also answer this?

Do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human

I couldn't possibly answer that unless you could first explicitly define what you mean by 'awareness'. We seem to have different understandings of the word. Using the same word does not mean we are communicating if we mean different things by using that word.
 

excreationist

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And another question could be what does the word awareness even mean if it is posited that everything we think we are aware of doesn't actually exist.
Could you also answer this?

Do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human

I couldn't possibly answer that unless you could first explicitly define what you mean by 'awareness'. We seem to have different understandings of the word. Using the same word does not mean we are communicating if we mean different things by using that word.
I said the sensation of awareness aka "qualia". It is the sensation of "redness" even if it is a dream where the experience isn't "real".
 

skepticalbip

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I couldn't possibly answer that unless you could first explicitly define what you mean by 'awareness'. We seem to have different understandings of the word. Using the same word does not mean we are communicating if we mean different things by using that word.
I said the sensation of awareness aka "qualia". It is the sensation of "redness" even if it is a dream where the experience isn't "real".
And when I use the word 'awareness' I mean sensing and understanding surroundings and events.

The basis for your 'qualia' of 'redness' is from your awareness of the external world where you became aware of 'red'. Without having experienced 'red' in that external world and remembered it, where would the concept have come from?
 

excreationist

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I couldn't possibly answer that unless you could first explicitly define what you mean by 'awareness'. We seem to have different understandings of the word. Using the same word does not mean we are communicating if we mean different things by using that word.
I said the sensation of awareness aka "qualia". It is the sensation of "redness" even if it is a dream where the experience isn't "real".
And when I use the word 'awareness' I mean sensing and understanding surroundings and events.
So according to that definition does a dreaming person have "awareness"? If not then that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sensation of awareness - which means they don't necessarily involve the external objective world that they give you the impression of...
The basis for your 'qualia' of 'redness' is from your awareness of the external world where you became aware of 'red'. Without having experienced 'red' in that external world and remembered it, where would the concept have come from?
What about this thought experiment... let's say a person's experiences have been controlled so that they've never experienced the color "green" before - so they had never seen any green plants, etc. Let's say that they closed their eyes and the neurons connected to their rods were activated (so they'd see brightness) and the neurons connected to their green cones were activated. If necessary the neurons connected to their red and blue cones were inhibited.
So their rods and cones weren't detecting anything but the neurons they were connected to were activated so that they had the experience of seeing strong bright green...
This is similar to the brain in a vat concept.
I'd say this experience of green wasn't based on any former memories of sensing the green in the outside world.
 

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And when I use the word 'awareness' I mean sensing and understanding surroundings and events.
So according to that definition does a dreaming person have "awareness"? If not then that isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sensation of awareness - which means they don't necessarily involve the external objective world that they give you the impression of...
The basis for your 'qualia' of 'redness' is from your awareness of the external world where you became aware of 'red'. Without having experienced 'red' in that external world and remembered it, where would the concept have come from?
What about this thought experiment... let's say a person's experiences have been controlled so that they've never experienced the color "green" before - so they had never seen any green plants, etc. Let's say that they closed their eyes and the neurons connected to their rods were activated (so they'd see brightness) and the neurons connected to their green cones were activated. If necessary the neurons connected to their red and blue cones were inhibited.
So their rods and cones weren't detecting anything but the neurons they were connected to were activated so that they had the experience of seeing strong bright green...
This is similar to the brain in a vat concept.
I'd say this experience of green wasn't based on any former memories of sensing the green in the outside world.
that person would never get laid.
 

George S

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So according to that definition does a dreaming person have "awareness"?
This has been tested. Neurons studied during dreams and awareness. The same neurons activate when seeing red as when dreaming red.
In awareness the imagination is corrected to match reality. Sometimes errors are made as in optical illusions and hallucinations.
 

connick

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excreationist said:
How do you know you/I would be definitely aware if this isn't a simulation? I think the answer is that we have the sensation of awareness and qualia. If we hallucinate then the contents of the awareness is a delusion but I'd still say it involves the sensation of awareness.
I think that Descartes was on to something about fundamental knowledge. Assuming we are not in a simulation (or a similar situation), but acknowledging that we can't truly verify anything we seem to experience as being objectively "real", I think one can conclude that something exists - that something is being experienced (regardless of whether it reflects an objective reality or not).

However, as I've mentioned in one of my central points before, if we don't assume we're not in a simulation, then even the apparent sensation of awareness could be an illusion. Don't ask me to explain how that could be so - I can't even imagine what that would entail - but I see no reason to exclude it from the list of things to doubt.

excreationist said:
How can you be sure our possible non-simulation universe doesn't also involve unknowable elements (like the invisible pink unicorn) that also somehow make the sensation of awareness not real?
I can't be sure. I think radical skeptics are in an unassailable position in believing that knowledge is likely impossible. However, a practicing adherent to this philosophy would be like the narrator in the old Tootsie Pop commercials. All they could say is "the world may never know." Of course, this wouldn't help them navigate or consider or converse about the apparent universe we live in. Unless one is satisfied with laying face down in a puddle, one has to assume some fundamental axioms to sidestep the unknowable nature of reality.

While the adoption of unfounded (or at least unprovable) tenets may seem like a cop out, in this case it's a bit different than other excuses for ignoring facts (or in this case, a lack thereof). Typically, one avoids disagreeable facts in order to avoid some effort. Here, avoiding the fact that knowledge may be impossible is the only way to justify any effort whatsoever. If nothing is knowable, then what's the point of talking about or doing anything? We must assume some things are knowable to some extent in order to meaningfully and coherently deal with our apparent experiences.

All of our "knowledge" is based on a foundation of these axioms. These axioms establish how things like mathematics and logic work. They create frameworks for drawing further conclusions. These fundaments could be wrong, but without them we're rendered utterly impotent.

If we assume we can know nothing (as is done by assuming we could be in a simulation), then everything after that point is utterly moot.

excreationist said:
BTW do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human
I suspect they would. In fact, while I won't argue to support my vague suspicions here, I can't help but wonder if some version of panpsychism is true and that any configuration of matter equipped with sensory devices and some approximation of a nervous system (such as a computer) might have the sensation of awareness. But that's a totally different topic of discussion and absolutely requires the assumption that we are not utterly deceived by a simulation.
 

excreationist

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excreationist said:
BTW do you think the following things would have the sensation of awareness?
- Boltzmann brain
- a brain in a vat
- a dreaming human
I suspect they would.
Well a brain in a vat involves a simulation... so you're saying that that kind of simulation would involve the sensation of awareness....
In fact, while I won't argue to support my vague suspicions here, I can't help but wonder if some version of panpsychism is true and that any configuration of matter equipped with sensory devices and some approximation of a nervous system (such as a computer) might have the sensation of awareness.
I think that can also involve "functionalism". So then a simulation that involves a simulated brain could also involve the sensation of awareness?
....If we assume we can know nothing (as is done by assuming we could be in a simulation), then everything after that point is utterly moot....
I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...
 

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excreationist said:
Well a brain in a vat involves a simulation... so you're saying that that kind of simulation would involve the sensation of awareness....
If our world is anything like we think it is, then yes, I think a brain in a vat could have the sensation of being aware. That assumes that our general understanding of the world isn't a total illusion.

However, that's not at all what this thread is about. It's about your original argument, the first premise of which is that we could be in a simulation.

If we accept that premise, then we have to admit we can't know anything about a possible outside world. Also, we have to admit that everything we think we know about our world could be totally wrong.

As I've mentioned numerous times already, if we accept the premise that we could be in a simulation then every subsequent premise and inference can be rejected on the basis that it may be a deception caused by the simulation.

Can you conceive of a statement or conclusion that isn't countered by invoking your first premise, "It's possible we're in a simulation"? I daresay you cannot.

excreationist said:
I think that can also involve "functionalism". So then a simulation that involves a simulated brain could also involve the sensation of awareness?
I was just musing on the subject of awareness in the context of my understanding of the world, which is predicated in part on the assumption that my experiences are not totally illusory - that we are not just part of a simulation.

If, for the sake of argument (which is a bit ironic because it forestalls any meaningful arguments), we assume that we could be in a simulation - that everything we appear to experience could be a delusion - then we can't talk about simulations or functionalism or anything else, because we have to question the apparent beliefs and observations that underly them.

We can't have it both ways. We can't refer to concepts that depend on knowledge being possible when discussing a universe where knowledge is impossible. If one assumes that our experience could be simulated, wholly fabricated and divorced from a "real" external world, then one cannot use anything from the supposedly simulated world to determine anything about the "real" one.

I feel like this is the sticking point that you have yet to acknowledge.

excreationist said:
I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...
It seems that you are confusing questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be possible to some extent with questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be utterly impossible (i.e. a world where we are in a simulation).

It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?
 

excreationist

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.......It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?
Ok if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc, but I think it is quite likely that it would have an intelligent creator and that I am having the sensation of awareness (rather than being a philosophical zombie), etc. If I am experiencing what I am experiencing now and I am in a random reality and it is simulated I think it is quite likely that there is an intelligent creator. That is based on the reasoning that it makes sense for a simulation to have an intelligent creator such as a post-human or an AI, etc, rather than it coming about by chance (like a Boltzmann brain), etc.
 

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If our world is anything like we think it is, then yes, I think a brain in a vat could have the sensation of being aware. That assumes that our general understanding of the world isn't a total illusion.

However, that's not at all what this thread is about. It's about your original argument, the first premise of which is that we could be in a simulation.

If we accept that premise, then we have to admit we can't know anything about a possible outside world. Also, we have to admit that everything we think we know about our world could be totally wrong.

As I've mentioned numerous times already, if we accept the premise that we could be in a simulation then every subsequent premise and inference can be rejected on the basis that it may be a deception caused by the simulation.

Can you conceive of a statement or conclusion that isn't countered by invoking your first premise, "It's possible we're in a simulation"? I daresay you cannot.


I was just musing on the subject of awareness in the context of my understanding of the world, which is predicated in part on the assumption that my experiences are not totally illusory - that we are not just part of a simulation.

If, for the sake of argument (which is a bit ironic because it forestalls any meaningful arguments), we assume that we could be in a simulation - that everything we appear to experience could be a delusion - then we can't talk about simulations or functionalism or anything else, because we have to question the apparent beliefs and observations that underly them.

We can't have it both ways. We can't refer to concepts that depend on knowledge being possible when discussing a universe where knowledge is impossible. If one assumes that our experience could be simulated, wholly fabricated and divorced from a "real" external world, then one cannot use anything from the supposedly simulated world to determine anything about the "real" one.

I feel like this is the sticking point that you have yet to acknowledge.

excreationist said:
I think our possible simulation has a purpose. The opposite of this would involve a Boltzmann brain.... and you said that you suspected that those would have the sensation of awareness...
It seems that you are confusing questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be possible to some extent with questions posed in a world where knowledge is assumed to be utterly impossible (i.e. a world where we are in a simulation).

It is your very first premise which undercuts everything else you would like to talk about. If your opening assumption is that we could be fooled about EVERYTHING then that applies to EVERYTHING. There can be no discussion about creators or probabilities or awareness or anything.

I could justifiably respond to each statement you've written in this thread by saying, "that could be an illusion according to your first premise." I've said much more than just that in the hopes that you would acknowledge this, but you seem to be stuck.

Do you disagree with me about the implications of your first premise?

So, would you not think a brain in a vat composed of neurons made of balanced charges of in semiconductors that generate output potentials is less aware than a brain in a vat composed of neurons of balanced charges that trigger chemical thresholds?

You experience the same universe regardless of the implementation, and the implementation seems at least plausible as the basic platform of that experience, without special consideration. The simulation is describing the whole brain in a way that brain may be modified, unless you want to claim neurosurgery isn't real.
 

excreationist

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connick

I think I've got a solution to your issues...

I could modify the first premise:

It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.
 

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It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.

Okay, I have not read every post in this thread, but I have a question about ^that.

Why "in" a simulation? Would we not be part of the simulation? Or are you proposing that our "us-ness" is a durable (non-simulated) object that is external to the simulation? IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?

Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?

But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?
 

excreationist

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It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.

Okay, I have not read every post in this thread, but I have a question about ^that.

Why "in" a simulation? Would we not be part of the simulation? Or are you proposing that our "us-ness" is a durable (non-simulated) object that is external to the simulation?
Yes that is possible - e.g.

Here is a related video - it is relevant to video games - and why you'd eventually want to stop your god-like ability that is possible in a game.... (omniscience/omnipotence within the game using "cheats", "mods", hacking, etc)


IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?
Well I have the sensation of awareness and it is possible that other people don't. ("philosophical zombies" - like all NPCs in current games)

Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?
It could be partly an "ancestor" simulation and people from the future are loosely basing our world on their past.... I think the purpose is usually for entertainment or personal growth. Other fans of the simulation argument think the purpose is for studying scenarios for research.
But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?
I think Morty's sense of self as "Roy" would be part of the simulation but his awareness involves the brain that is external to that simulation.
 

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Yes that is possible - e.g.

Here is a related video - it is relevant to video games - and why you'd eventually want to stop your god-like ability that is possible in a game.... (omniscience/omnipotence within the game using "cheats", "mods", hacking, etc)


IOW this creator/God pulls it off the shelf as needed or desired, opens a little trap door into the holodeck and plants it in a simulated .... blastocyst? Embryo? Fetus? Baby? Only you? Only me?
Well I have the sensation of awareness and it is possible that other people don't. ("philosophical zombies" - like all NPCs in current games)

Sounds like a lot of trouble for any creator/God to go through for nothing, but I remember seeing some pretty elaborate farms in Farmville® back in the day. And if we are in fact simulated in the image of the creator, no rationale is really required, right?
It could be partly an "ancestor" simulation and people from the future are loosely basing our world on their past.... I think the purpose is usually for entertainment or personal growth. Other fans of the simulation argument think the purpose is for studying scenarios for research.
But is it not possible that we ARE the simulation, and our sense of self is just as much a part of it as everything else?
I think Morty's sense of self as "Roy" would be part of the simulation but his awareness involves the brain that is external to that simulation.


That all sounds like a meticulous de-mystification of religious principles, rather than an explanation of what can be observed or experienced. I recall pondering the possibility that I alone was the “subject” in the experiential experiment - the context of that memory places it at around four years old. At the same time I was considering that if the entire universe was rapidly expanding and contracting, I would not be able to tell.
A few years later, I tried to ask an adult “why am I me, and you, you? Why am I not you or you, me?”
Of course that garnered the predictable dismissal as a child’s nonsense, but the question persists.
At 17 I experienced an epiphany of unity with the universe, and it laid to rest all questions of causality for me, in favor of embracing the experience of being within a biological unit. Creators, puppet masters - the whole galaxy of explanatory entities and dynamics dropped to third level concerns, and remain lower priorities for me than such things as “why does my back itch?”
 

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excreationist said:
Ok if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc, but I think it is quite likely that it would have an intelligent creator and that I am having the sensation of awareness (rather than being a philosophical zombie), etc. If I am experiencing what I am experiencing now and I am in a random reality and it is simulated I think it is quite likely that there is an intelligent creator. That is based on the reasoning that it makes sense for a simulation to have an intelligent creator such as a post-human or an AI, etc, rather than it coming about by chance (like a Boltzmann brain), etc.
It only seems likely that a simulation would have an intelligent creator in the context of our perceived universe where intelligent beings are the creators of most, if not all, simulations. If we discount our apparent experience - which we must if we assume that we could be in a simulation ourselves - then there's no reason to think an intelligent creator is more or less likely than anything else.

Jarhyn said:
So, would you not think a brain in a vat composed of neurons made of balanced charges of in semiconductors that generate output potentials is less aware than a brain in a vat composed of neurons of balanced charges that trigger chemical thresholds?

You experience the same universe regardless of the implementation, and the implementation seems at least plausible as the basic platform of that experience, without special consideration. The simulation is describing the whole brain in a way that brain may be modified, unless you want to claim neurosurgery isn't real.
Hi Jarhyn, I apologize in advance if I've misunderstood your question so please let me know if that's the case once you've read my response.

I think you are asking whether I consider a brain or brain-like structure composed of semiconductors as being equally aware as a brain composed of neurons.

I have to be a little careful in my response here because I want to clarify the difference between my position when we assume that my experience is not simulated and my position when we assume that my experience could be simulated.

Assuming that we are not utterly decieved by virtue of being in a simulation, I suspect that both a conventional, neuronal brain and a brain composed of semiconductors are equally aware.

In the absence of that assumption (i.e. allowing for the possibility that we are in a simulation), I can't reasonably justify any belief about what awareness is or how it works or what it might require.

Assuming that what we experience is, at least to some extent, "real" (which is what I assume) then I am totally behind you in the belief that neuroscience and neurosurgery provide some insight into the nature of awareness.

Assuming that we could be totally decieved by virtue of being in a simulation (which is what excreationist's first premise entails), then we couldn't say that neurosurgery (or anything really) is real.

That's really the main sticking point of my disagreement with excreationist. If we discount our apparent experiences by assuming it could all be faked, then we're left with nothing to base any beliefs on.

I contend that we must assume that our experiences are, by and large, real in order to have any meaningful discussions.

excreationist said:
connick

I think I've got a solution to your issues...

I could modify the first premise:

It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.
I think that helps a little, but mostly by moving the problem to a new place. Ultimately, I think the argument is still a non-starter but, with your modified premise above, for a slightly different reason. In fact, the reason this new premise leads to trouble is because it demands justification for not positing your original premise.

With your original premise we can know nothing, because it implies that all knowledge within the simulation is suspect at best and everything outside of it is utterly unknowable.

With your modified premise you confine the nature and origin of a possible simulation to something more limited, but that begs the question "why assume those limitations?"

So, if we work backwards from your modified premise, to your first premise to my assertion it goes, in my mind, something like this:

Modified Premise
"It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe."

Rebuttal
Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them. So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?

Original Premise
"It's possible we're in a simulation."

Rebuttal
This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know anything further to be true other than the original premise.

My Assertion
We must axiomatically reject your original premise. The sole justification I have for rejecting your premise is that, otherwise, we cannot make any coherent statements about our experiences or the universe at large. In simple terms, the possibility of our being in a simulation is fundamentally undeniable, but the question of whether we really are in a simulation or not is unanswerable. Worse still, accepting the possibility of being in a simulation renders us mute.

As I've said before, any statement is rendered moot by invoking your first premise.

While nobody prefaces their statements with "assuming we're not in a simulation", I think that's generally taken for granted. In the case of your arguments here, it's obvious that we need to say so explicitly and I think I've given a reasonable explanation for why we have to make this assumption.

It's literally for the sake of discussion.
 

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It only seems likely that a simulation would have an intelligent creator in the context of our perceived universe where intelligent beings are the creators of most, if not all, simulations. If we discount our apparent experience - which we must if we assume that we could be in a simulation ourselves - then there's no reason to think an intelligent creator is more or less likely than anything else.


Hi Jarhyn, I apologize in advance if I've misunderstood your question so please let me know if that's the case once you've read my response.

I think you are asking whether I consider a brain or brain-like structure composed of semiconductors as being equally aware as a brain composed of neurons.

I have to be a little careful in my response here because I want to clarify the difference between my position when we assume that my experience is not simulated and my position when we assume that my experience could be simulated.

Assuming that we are not utterly decieved by virtue of being in a simulation, I suspect that both a conventional, neuronal brain and a brain composed of semiconductors are equally aware.

In the absence of that assumption (i.e. allowing for the possibility that we are in a simulation), I can't reasonably justify any belief about what awareness is or how it works or what it might require.

Assuming that what we experience is, at least to some extent, "real" (which is what I assume) then I am totally behind you in the belief that neuroscience and neurosurgery provide some insight into the nature of awareness.

Assuming that we could be totally decieved by virtue of being in a simulation (which is what excreationist's first premise entails), then we couldn't say that neurosurgery (or anything really) is real.

That's really the main sticking point of my disagreement with excreationist. If we discount our apparent experiences by assuming it could all be faked, then we're left with nothing to base any beliefs on.

I contend that we must assume that our experiences are, by and large, real in order to have any meaningful discussions.

excreationist said:
connick

I think I've got a solution to your issues...

I could modify the first premise:

It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe.
I think that helps a little, but mostly by moving the problem to a new place. Ultimately, I think the argument is still a non-starter but, with your modified premise above, for a slightly different reason. In fact, the reason this new premise leads to trouble is because it demands justification for not positing your original premise.

With your original premise we can know nothing, because it implies that all knowledge within the simulation is suspect at best and everything outside of it is utterly unknowable.

With your modified premise you confine the nature and origin of a possible simulation to something more limited, but that begs the question "why assume those limitations?"

So, if we work backwards from your modified premise, to your first premise to my assertion it goes, in my mind, something like this:

Modified Premise
"It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe."

Rebuttal
Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them. So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?

Original Premise
"It's possible we're in a simulation."

Rebuttal
This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know anything further to be true other than the original premise.

My Assertion
We must axiomatically reject your original premise. The sole justification I have for rejecting your premise is that, otherwise, we cannot make any coherent statements about our experiences or the universe at large. In simple terms, the possibility of our being in a simulation is fundamentally undeniable, but the question of whether we really are in a simulation or not is unanswerable. Worse still, accepting the possibility of being in a simulation renders us mute.

As I've said before, any statement is rendered moot by invoking your first premise.

While nobody prefaces their statements with "assuming we're not in a simulation", I think that's generally taken for granted. In the case of your arguments here, it's obvious that we need to say so explicitly and I think I've given a reasonable explanation for why we have to make this assumption.

It's literally for the sake of discussion.

So to clarify, mostly you have my position, but there is one caveat to this: when the whole relationship is a function of both the client universe and the host universe, it's equally and uniquely in both universes at the same time, including all equal implementations wherein they are native.

It's a very mind-hurty thing to contemplate, that if your process is implemented equally in two apparently different "whole" universes it's still the same process.

My question was just to elucidate that I think consciousness is the basic product of such a process happening; that it must be like something to be any given thing and this is just what it is like to be this kind of relationship.
 

excreationist

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Modified Premise
"It is possible we are in a simulation that has an intelligent creator and limited resources, etc. It could also resemble the physics of our universe."

Rebuttal
Well, it is also possible that we are in a simulation without a creator (intelligent or otherwise) and that an external world has unlimited resources (or that the idea of resources is a meaningless one in the external world) and that the physics of the simulation or the outside world in no way resembles physics as we perceive them.
That's like having a premise saying "it's possible I could win the lottery" and countering "it's possible you won't win the lottery".
So what justifies these limitations or qualifications placed on the original premise? Why not posit the original?
Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.

Original Premise
"It's possible we're in a simulation."

Rebuttal
This is definitely a possibility. However, if we accept this possibility, we must therefore consider all of our knowledge to be suspect. In other words, we cannot know [emphasis added] anything further to be true other than the original premise.
Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".
 

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Sorry for being absent so long. I had written a response but forgot to save it and got discouraged so I'm writing it anew.

Jarhyn said:
So to clarify, mostly you have my position, but there is one caveat to this: when the whole relationship is a function of both the client universe and the host universe, it's equally and uniquely in both universes at the same time, including all equal implementations wherein they are native.

It's a very mind-hurty thing to contemplate, that if your process is implemented equally in two apparently different "whole" universes it's still the same process.

My question was just to elucidate that I think consciousness is the basic product of such a process happening; that it must be like something to be any given thing and this is just what it is like to be this kind of relationship.
Thanks for the clarification. I think what you are saying, in part, is that consciousness is the product of certain processes (like neural activity) regardless of whether those processes are part of a simulation (or even an arbitrarily deep dependency of simulations) or not. Further, I think you are saying that the processes (of simulation and being simulated) are intrinsically linked and coexist in both the "real" host universe as well as the simulated client universe. Lastly, I think by saying "it must be like something to be any given thing" you seem to be echoing my personal suspicion that everything is capable of experience, even if that experience - limited by a lack of sensory and cognitive equipment - is of nothing.

Assuming, as I contend we must, that we are not ourselves part of a simulation - because that would cast doubt upon everything we think we experience and know - and assuming that I understand what you have said, I agree with you. If I've misunderstood you, please accept my apologies and know that I am happy to try again to understand your position. If we instead assume that we might be part of a simulation (as premised by excreationist) then I must disagree on the basis that all of our knowledge would be suspect.

excreationist said:
That's like having a premise saying "it's possible I could win the lottery" and countering "it's possible you won't win the lottery".
That's a valid inference that follows from the premise and shows that the premise is itself only a demonstration of the principle of the excluded middle. It doesn't really put forth a statement about winning the lottery, but instead it trivially reiterates the idea that either something is true or not and that there isn't a third option. If I posit that "you either could win the lottery or you could not", I'm not really saying anything about either case and therefore, not really making any other argument than that you could not both win and not win the lottery. I don't think that your argument is merely that something could be only true or not true.

My argument is akin to saying "it's not possible that you could win the lottery". That would be an argument about something rather than an irresolute reverie that amounts to "maybe it is, maybe it ain't". Of course, then the onus would be on me to provide justification for why this is true or why we must assume that it is true.

As such, that is what I've done. I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.

Saying "it's possible to win the lottery" doesn't shake the foundations of knowledge and epistemology to its core. On the other hand, saying "it's possible that we're in a simulation" - which implies "everything we think we know could be false" - undercuts absolutely everything.

My assertion that we must assume it is not true (that we could be in a simulation) is not based on underlying facts, but rather on it underlying all other facts.

excreationist said:
Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.
The revised, qualified premise, doesn't make things better for two reasons. The first is that it still stymies discussion in the ways I've already described. The second is that, even if it somehow avoided gelding knowledge altogether, it would be unjustified special pleading.

My argument requires special pleading, but I feel that I have adequately justified my assertion.

excreationist said:
Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".
Unless you reject the principle of the excluded middle, the conclusion "there could be a god" is functionally equivalent to the conclusion "there could not be a god". It says nothing. It's just vacillation.

However, I haven't been arguing much about that conclusion, as meaningless as it is. Instead, I've been arguing about your first premise and the fact that it cuts off all further premises, inferences and conclusions, no matter how you word them or how many qualifications you place around them. There is nothing you can change about premises 2, 3, 4, ... that erases the problem introduced by accepting your first premise.
 

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.....I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.
So you have trouble accepting even the first premise based on your reasoning. You are the only person I've come across who has all of those objections (including asserting that it is possible for a simulation to not have a creator or that it is possible that we have no awareness). I can't seem to have any success with defending my ideas with you so I'm getting nowhere at all. Since you are the only person I have come across with those objections I don't really feel discouraged with the arguments I've put forth.

"then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt"

I'm talking about possibilities not conclusions that involve no doubt. (I guess I'm missing your point though)
 

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Sorry for being absent so long. I had written a response but forgot to save it and got discouraged so I'm writing it anew.


Thanks for the clarification. I think what you are saying, in part, is that consciousness is the product of certain processes (like neural activity) regardless of whether those processes are part of a simulation (or even an arbitrarily deep dependency of simulations) or not. Further, I think you are saying that the processes (of simulation and being simulated) are intrinsically linked and coexist in both the "real" host universe as well as the simulated client universe. Lastly, I think by saying "it must be like something to be any given thing" you seem to be echoing my personal suspicion that everything is capable of experience, even if that experience - limited by a lack of sensory and cognitive equipment - is of nothing.

Assuming, as I contend we must, that we are not ourselves part of a simulation - because that would cast doubt upon everything we think we experience and know - and assuming that I understand what you have said, I agree with you. If I've misunderstood you, please accept my apologies and know that I am happy to try again to understand your position. If we instead assume that we might be part of a simulation (as premised by excreationist) then I must disagree on the basis that all of our knowledge would be suspect.


That's a valid inference that follows from the premise and shows that the premise is itself only a demonstration of the principle of the excluded middle. It doesn't really put forth a statement about winning the lottery, but instead it trivially reiterates the idea that either something is true or not and that there isn't a third option. If I posit that "you either could win the lottery or you could not", I'm not really saying anything about either case and therefore, not really making any other argument than that you could not both win and not win the lottery. I don't think that your argument is merely that something could be only true or not true.

My argument is akin to saying "it's not possible that you could win the lottery". That would be an argument about something rather than an irresolute reverie that amounts to "maybe it is, maybe it ain't". Of course, then the onus would be on me to provide justification for why this is true or why we must assume that it is true.

As such, that is what I've done. I've contended that we must assume that it is impossible that we are in a simulation, not on the basis that it is indeed impossible - for I concede that our being in a simulation is possible - but on the basis that if we accept that possibility as being true, then the truth of any subsequent premise and the validity of any inference is called into doubt.

Saying "it's possible to win the lottery" doesn't shake the foundations of knowledge and epistemology to its core. On the other hand, saying "it's possible that we're in a simulation" - which implies "everything we think we know could be false" - undercuts absolutely everything.

My assertion that we must assume it is not true (that we could be in a simulation) is not based on underlying facts, but rather on it underlying all other facts.

excreationist said:
Because I thought the new premise makes the possibility of an intelligent creator easier to argue than with the original.
The revised, qualified premise, doesn't make things better for two reasons. The first is that it still stymies discussion in the ways I've already described. The second is that, even if it somehow avoided gelding knowledge altogether, it would be unjustified special pleading.

My argument requires special pleading, but I feel that I have adequately justified my assertion.

excreationist said:
Like I wrote in post #165 "if this is a simulation I COULD be wrong about there being a creator, etc"

BTW my conclusion is "Therefore there could be a God". You seem to be under the impression that I'm claiming to prove that God exists. Though you also seem to disagree with the premise that "The simulation needs a creator". That could be replaced with "The simulation could have a creator".
Unless you reject the principle of the excluded middle, the conclusion "there could be a god" is functionally equivalent to the conclusion "there could not be a god". It says nothing. It's just vacillation.

However, I haven't been arguing much about that conclusion, as meaningless as it is. Instead, I've been arguing about your first premise and the fact that it cuts off all further premises, inferences and conclusions, no matter how you word them or how many qualifications you place around them. There is nothing you can change about premises 2, 3, 4, ... that erases the problem introduced by accepting your first premise.

I think we squared there, ya. It took me a really long time to develop the ability to grok those thoughts. You get some mad props for absorbing it in my obtuse language.

Heaven knows just re-reading both of our posts in series for understanding and confirmation is giving me brain cotton.
 

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As a follow-up, some time now later, it occurs to me that I have spent some great amount of time considering what it must be like to be a great many things. Perhaps it is hubris and folly, but I do it all the same. An electron makes one decision. But is there a life of decisions, dropping along as much as it must to continue it's journey? It must be like a dance, randomly bouncing about the cosmos, experiencing nothing but the moment of transcendence, and rebirth from a chaotic relationship with an over-excitable electron...

In a lot of ways a rock has a more boring existence. It subsumes all it's matter, all that stuff just worshipping in the orbit of the Next Biggest Thing.
 

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Jarhyn said:
I think we squared there, ya. It took me a really long time to develop the ability to grok those thoughts. You get some mad props for absorbing it in my obtuse language.

Heaven knows just re-reading both of our posts in series for understanding and confirmation is giving me brain cotton.
I'm glad to hear we understand one another! I also had to re-read everything a few times in the hopes of not misunderstanding or misrepresenting your position.

I've found one of the harder concepts for me to come to terms with is how uncertain our knowledge is at its base. However, I've realized that, despite indisputable doubts about our perceptions of the universe, we can move forward in as meaningful of a way as possible by agreeing upon certain stipulations (e.g. "we are not totally deceived by a simulation", "other people are not philosophical zombies", etc.) for the purpose of further discussion.

Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.

That's what's at the heart of this discussion, despite it being framed from the outset as an argument for an intelligent creator. It's a practical demonstration of the adage that "you have to work with what you've got."

Jarhyn said:
As a follow-up, some time now later, it occurs to me that I have spent some great amount of time considering what it must be like to be a great many things. Perhaps it is hubris and folly, but I do it all the same. An electron makes one decision. But is there a life of decisions, dropping along as much as it must to continue it's journey? It must be like a dance, randomly bouncing about the cosmos, experiencing nothing but the moment of transcendence, and rebirth from a chaotic relationship with an over-excitable electron...

In a lot of ways a rock has a more boring existence. It subsumes all it's matter, all that stuff just worshipping in the orbit of the Next Biggest Thing.
While this is, I think, outside of the scope of the OP and my criticisms of it, I don't think there is much harm in making a passing remark or two on this subject.

I must say that I'm not sure if the language you use here is warranted (e.g. decisions, transcendence, worshipping), but I think I get the gist. My intuition (and I haven't spent nearly enough time considering this carefully) suggests, since there is nothing apparently special about configurations of matter which have (or appear to have) conscious experiences, that experience is intrinsic to all matter. I subsequently surmise that the limiting factors on what is experienced, or communicated as being experienced, are the sensory, cognitive and communicative apparatus available to the thing in question. I suspect, for instance, that rocks have experience but that, without sensory organs and a brainlike structure to form, store and reflect upon memories, the experience is of nothing.

Anyway, that's a topic for another forum and another day! Let's see what excreationist has to say about the latest responses.

Cheers!
 

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.....Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.....
I don't think it follows that if other people aren't aware then I might not be aware...

Most or all simulation argument fans would believe it is possible that at least some of the other people are philosophical zombies - yet these simulation fans believe that they are experiencing the sensation of awareness and qualia.

On reddit there's a guy who thinks that almost everyone isn't aware because he doesn't like the idea of other people suffering. (philosophical zombies can't experience genuine suffering). Sometimes in the Sims, players like to set the sims on fire....

sims-house-burning.jpg

That would be even more problematic if the sims had a genuine awareness of pain. Another reason to have philosophical zombies is that I think they'd be less CPU intensive to simulate like when Morty plays the "Roy" video game.

Dreams are kind of like simulated experiences and I'd say the dreamer is conscious while the characters in the dream are philosophical zombies.

You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.

I did say "if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia" but I think that is equivalent with "it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia".
 

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.....Even though my entire world could be a lie filled with insentient impostors, we have to stipulate otherwise. For, if everyone else might be faking consciousness, then I could just be talking to myself and, if all of my experiences might be lies, then I can't have any confidence that I'm even talking at all.....
I don't think it follows that if other people aren't aware then I might not be aware...

Most or all simulation argument fans would believe it is possible that at least some of the other people are philosophical zombies - yet these simulation fans believe that they are experiencing the sensation of awareness and qualia.

On reddit there's a guy who thinks that almost everyone isn't aware because he doesn't like the idea of other people suffering. (philosophical zombies can't experience genuine suffering). Sometimes in the Sims, players like to set the sims on fire....

View attachment 33545

That would be even more problematic if the sims had a genuine awareness of pain. Another reason to have philosophical zombies is that I think they'd be less CPU intensive to simulate like when Morty plays the "Roy" video game.

Dreams are kind of like simulated experiences and I'd say the dreamer is conscious while the characters in the dream are philosophical zombies.

You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.

I did say "if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia" but I think that is equivalent with "it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia".
meh, I'd agree that the simulation we experience, if it is, is a simulation of real system that doesn't exist.
 

excreationist

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meh, I'd agree that the simulation we experience, if it is, is a simulation of real system that doesn't exist.
"....a simulation of a real system that doesn't exist"

I don't think it is "real" then....

BTW do you think it is possible that you actually have no sensation of awareness or qualia?
 

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connick

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excreationist said:
So you have trouble accepting even the first premise based on your reasoning.
I have no trouble at all accepting your first premise. That you would say this, tells me that either I am not communicating clearly enough or that you are not reading carefully enough.

What you have yet to acknowledge are the implications of your first premise.

Let's look at it one more time.

excreationist said:
It's possible we're in a simulation
Let's accept this as true for the sake of discussion.

Now what does that imply? What are the consequences of accepting this as true?

Well, it can logically be inferred that if it's possible that we are in a simulation, that it is also possible that what we see, hear, say and think, everything, could all be artificial - just part of the simulation. Right?

Well, what does that mean for subsequent premises? Let's use a really simple one like "I ate an apple" and see.

If it's possible that we're in a simulation, and therefore possible that our thoughts and knowledge about apples and eating is just artificial, then we have to append the premise "I ate an apple" with something like "or I didn't eat an apple". It's possible that what I thought was the act of eating an apple was really just part of the simulation and maybe apples and eating aren't even real things.

This same implication applies to everything you think you have seen, heard, said or thought.

This dog weighs eleven pounds - Nope. Dogs and weight could be a deception of the simulation.
My eyes are blue - Nope. Eyes and colors could be a deception of the simulation.
2 + 2 is 4 - Nope. Numbers and arithmetic could be a deception of the simulation.
The simulation needs a creator - Nope. This apparent need could be a deception of the simulation.
Etc., etc. ad nauseum.

excreationist said:
I'm talking about possibilities not conclusions that involve no doubt. (I guess I'm missing your point though)
It's the very doubt that your first premise introduces that is the primary problem. "It's possible that we're in a simulation," implies that it's possible that everything is a delusion, a fake. Listing off possibilities is not an argument, it has no real meaning.

Space aliens may have no arms. Or they may have one arm. Or they may have many arms. What do those statements really say about space aliens and how many arms they have? Nothing really.

What's in the fridge? Maybe some food? Maybe no food? What does that say about what's in the fridge? Nothing really.

There could be a god. There could not be a god. What does that say about gods? Nothing really.

If you just want to talk about possibilities you could make an endless list or you could wrap it all up neatly and just say "Maybe something," and that would suffice.

excreationist said:
I don't think it follows that if other people aren't aware then I might not be aware...
I didn't say other people not being aware implies that you might not be aware. Doubting all of reality implies that you might not be aware.

excreationist said:
You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.
Are you asking me to engage in fallacious reasoning? You do know that the popularity of an argument has nothing to do with whether it is correct or not, right? You do know that the support of famous people for an argument has nothing to do with whether it is correct or not, right?

Nothing we are discussing requires us appeal to the people or appeal to an authority figure. Those are two well-known forms of fallacious reasoning and that you would suggest resorting to them is troubling.

excreationist said:
I can't seem to have any success with defending my ideas with you so I'm getting nowhere at all. Since you are the only person I have come across with those objections I don't really feel discouraged with the arguments I've put forth.
The intellectually honest thing to do is to consider the arguments at hand, not who or how many people agree with them. If it turns out you can't defend your arguments then abandon them. I won't fault you for making an argument that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Rather, I would applaud you for following the argument to its necessary conclusions and, if it is indefensible, conceding.

I implore you to read the above and my previous responses with care. Few, if any, of your responses in this thread have addressed my criticisms at all, so it seems like you are reading past them or do not understand them or simply do not wish to address them. If any of what I have said is unclear, I'd be happy to restate it in another way that might make it more clear to you.

My primary criticism is really a simple one that I think you can grasp, but for some reason have not over the course of ten pages of posts now.
 

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<some fairly alright stuff>

So, let me draw you back towards that discussion on the nature of identity: that implementation is unimportant for the shape of the implemented system.

"I ate an apple".

Now, assuming that the whole reality is simulated, apples are still real things.

To demonstrate this, let's instantiate the simulation as a computer program (something we can, ostensibly, abstractly understand). As a computer program, the Apple's instantiated shape is 1's and 0's, and the way it's relationships link to the world it exists in is through frame based binary math. But it's no less what it is, has no less a whole apple worth of existence in it. It makes it no less "eaten" for the ultimate shape of this action comprising a subtraction of bits and an addition of other bits and so on than were it a construction of raw particles.

It makes it no less real. It just makes it more *complicated*. There's still a thing happening, describable as "man eats apple", and it really is something happening. Even if it's just a couple bits getting shuffled.

The nuance comes in "now, what is an apple, and what is it to eat?"
 

excreationist

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As far as the other parts of your post go, I'll just repeat "I can't seem to have any success with defending my ideas with you so I'm getting nowhere at all".

excreationist said:
You're the only person I've come across that thinks if this is a simulation then it is possible that I don't really have a sensation of awareness or qualia. Can you find someone else that agrees with you? Ideally someone famous. Ideally multiple people.
Are you asking me to engage in fallacious reasoning? You do know that the popularity of an argument has nothing to do with whether it is correct or not, right? You do know that the support of famous people for an argument has nothing to do with whether it is correct or not, right?

Nothing we are discussing requires us appeal to the people or appeal to an authority figure. Those are two well-known forms of fallacious reasoning and that you would suggest resorting to them is troubling.
There are MANY famous related concepts like Descartes (and "I think therefore I am"), the "hard problem", qualia, the "observer" (same as having awareness), etc. Surely at least one person would be like you and claim that we don't actually have awareness in at least one of those areas. In science it seems like things are more likely to make sense if a lot of scientists accept it... but for your idea as far as I know it just involves a single person - you. Do you have any qualifications that suggest you're an authority on whether or not I might experience the sensation of awareness and qualia?
Perhaps this graph applies to your level of expertise in this area:
1*eqmrgQRb8YyqEPMUcZE3lA.png
I tried to use normal reasoning with you but like I said I've been getting nowhere at all.
 
Last edited:

excreationist

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....2 + 2 is 4 - Nope. Numbers and arithmetic could be a deception of the simulation.....
Since I haven't argued against that before and it is interesting I will attempt to respond to this...

So how would it work? Let's say they had two seemingly equal groups of circles.... they count the first group while pointing at the circles - "1, 2". Then the second - "1, 2". Then they try to count them all while pointing to each circle: "1, 2, 3, 3" or "1, 2, 3, 5". Or they could go "1, 2, 3" while skipping a circle (with no-one ever realizing) - or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" while always counting one circle twice. Or a circle appears or disappears when they are counting them all (but there are two lots of two when they are doing the first part (2 + 2)).

That also implies that 2,000 + 2,000 is not 4,000 - instead it would agree with the first method.... so it would be 3,000 or 5,000 (or whatever the answer you're trying to trick them with).

Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?

Perhaps you'd say that we can't know how likely it is and that it could be quite likely....
 

connick

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Jarhyn said:
So, let me draw you back towards that discussion on the nature of identity: that implementation is unimportant for the shape of the implemented system.
I'm happy to entertain this discussion to some extent. I just don't want to diverge to far from the OP and my criticisms of it.

Jarhyn said:
Now, assuming that the whole reality is simulated, apples are still real things.
I have reservations about accepting this statement, which I will explain, but first let me talk about the remainder of your post in conventional terms, assuming that the universe in which we exist is not simulated.

Jarhyn said:
To demonstrate this, let's instantiate the simulation as a computer program (something we can, ostensibly, abstractly understand). As a computer program, the Apple's instantiated shape is 1's and 0's, and the way it's relationships link to the world it exists in is through frame based binary math. But it's no less what it is, has no less a whole apple worth of existence in it. It makes it no less "eaten" for the ultimate shape of this action comprising a subtraction of bits and an addition of other bits and so on than were it a construction of raw particles.

It makes it no less real. It just makes it more *complicated*. There's still a thing happening, describable as "man eats apple", and it really is something happening. Even if it's just a couple bits getting shuffled.

The nuance comes in "now, what is an apple, and what is it to eat?"
I agree that, in the context of the universe as it appears to us, that a simulated apple is no less "real" (i.e. it exists) than an ordinary apple. In this context, things do not become "unreal" by virtue of being simulated. Certainly, the nuances you mention have meaning, for to eat an ordinary apple and to simulate the eating of a simulated apple are different, despite both being deserving of being called "real" things.

I thought I mentioned this before (but maybe it was part of the post that I failed to save) but I think a good illustration of what you are saying comes from the video game Minecraft. As you may or may not be aware, it has been demonstrated that Minecraft (among other programs) is a universal computer. As such, the various voxels that comprise the world and their behavior can be used to simulate other computers and the programs that they run. It's entirely possible, for instance, to instantiate the old arcade game Asteroids within Minecraft. I think, as you do, that an instance of Asteroids simulated within Minecraft is no less Asteroids than an instance of "natural" Asteroids, running on a conventional computer. The fact that one runs using conventional computer logic and components while the other (though running on top of the selfsame Boolean framework) runs using the behaviors and states of the voxels in Minecraft, doesn't substantially change the game of Asteroids.

Of course, as you mentioned, there are nuances to consider because there are reasons to consider the original Asteroids and simulated Asteroids distinct, but in a sense neither has a claim to being more "real" than the other.

Now, to throw a wrench and touch back upon the italicized phrase above.

My personal beliefs, held - in part - for the reasons I've explained throughout this thread, are that the above is true. The apparent truth of these beliefs is predicated on the typically unmentioned assumption that we can know something about the universe. When it comes to excreationists argument, however, the first premise implies that nothing about the universe is knowable and, therefore, I cannot have any confidence in any statements about identity, simulations or even basic logic. What's harder to grok than our little side discusison is any notion of what an outside world might be like. Even our most seemingly fundamental observations could be wrong and the outside world could be utterly unintelligible. If we assume that their first premise is true than I cannot be sure that "I" or "the universe" or "simulation" or "real" have any meaning whatsoever in an outside world.

As illustrated before using a Pac-man analogy, the elements of our world that seem self-evident (like conscious experience for me or the exchange of fruit for points for Pac-man) could be wholly artificial. It's a little strange to consider, but I think there is an important distinction to be made between what we can say about simulations when we assume we are not within one ourselves (as I imagine most people assume) and what we can say when we assume that we could be within one (namely, nothing).
 

connick

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excreationist said:
As far as the other parts of your post go, I'll just repeat "I can't seem to have any success with defending my ideas with you so I'm getting nowhere at all".
I contend that you have not meaningfully defended your ideas from certain specific and repeated criticisms I've made. I assume that you are arguing in good faith, but your responses have consistently failed to address direct questions and the various passages I've written to explain my position. It's unsurprising that you would feel like no progress is being made when you consider that you have not engaged the main thrust of my argument.

The key item that I have yet to see you touch upon is the implication of your first premise on our knowledge of the universe. Do you acknowledge or do you dispute that if we accept the premise "It's possible we're in a simulation," that this implies that we cannot know anything at all?

excreationist said:
There are MANY famous related concepts like Descartes (and "I think therefore I am"), the "hard problem", qualia, the "observer" (same as having awareness), etc. Surely at least one person would be like you and claim that we don't actually have awareness in at least one of those areas. In science it seems like things are more likely to make sense if a lot of scientists accept it... but for your idea as far as I know it just involves a single person - you. Do you have any qualifications that suggest you're an authority on whether or not I might experience the sensation of awareness and qualia?
I think what you say here further belies the fact that you have not been following along. Unfortunately, it also reveals a predilection for fallacious reasoning. I'll address these two parts separately.

Regarding the former, I do not claim that we do not actually have awareness. I do not even know what it would mean for my apparent sense of awareness to be false. You, however, have put forth the premise "It's possible we're in a simulation," which bears the implication that nothing is knowable for sure, even our apparent sense of awareness. I think you must be confusing my personal beliefs about the apparent universe with the necessary conclusions that result from accepting your first premise. In simple terms, I'm not telling you what I believe about awareness, I'm telling you about the implications of accepting your premise.

Regarding the latter, it is troubling in the extreme that you would first raise an appeal to authority and an appeal to the people (both well-known fallacies) and then go on to defend those appeals. It's also mildly disturbing that you seem to be making a sideways allegation that I claim any level of authority on this or any other subject. I do not.

The number of people who espouse an argument has no influence on the truth or falsity of that argument. You might appreciate that I have not criticized your arguments on the basis that nobody has echoed them or expressed support for them. Arguments stand on their own, regardless of how many people are making them or what famous people support them.

It is patently false that "things are more likely to make sense if a lot of scientists accept it". It is also false that an argument requires the support of an authority in order to be true or to be worthy of consideration.

I'm not particularly inclined to go on about the reasons why appeals to authority and appeals to the people are fallacious forms of reasoning because others elsewhere have already done a nice job of explaining them and you can easily google "argumentum ad populum" and "argumentum ab auctoritate".

excreationist said:
Perhaps this graph applies to your level of expertise in this area:
I'm going to assume, rightly or not, that this comment and the accompanying graph were posted in jest.

excreationist said:
I tried to use normal reasoning with you but like I said I've been getting nowhere at all.
I, again, contend that you have not. Reasoning with me would require you to directly engage the arguments I'm making. One, in particular, about the necessary implications of your first premise, has been untouched by you and is the perfect place to start. "Normal" reasoning, in my humble opinion, should also exclude fallacious forms of reasoning like appeals to authority and appeals to the people. It is well-established that the truth of something is independent from who or how many people put their name behind it.

Let's talk about your argument, not what famous people or lots of people think.

excreationist said:
Since I haven't argued against that before and it is interesting I will attempt to respond to this...

So how would it work? Let's say they had two seemingly equal groups of circles.... they count the first group while pointing at the circles - "1, 2". Then the second - "1, 2". Then they try to count them all while pointing to each circle: "1, 2, 3, 3" or "1, 2, 3, 5". Or they could go "1, 2, 3" while skipping a circle (with no-one ever realizing) - or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" while always counting one circle twice. Or a circle appears or disappears when they are counting them all (but there are two lots of two when they are doing the first part (2 + 2)).

That also implies that 2,000 + 2,000 is not 4,000 - instead it would agree with the first method.... so it would be 3,000 or 5,000 (or whatever the answer you're trying to trick them with).

Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?

Perhaps you'd say that we can't know how likely it is and that it could be quite likely....
I think it is quite easy to imagine how numbers and arithmetic could be a deception if one were in a simulation. Let's use another video game example since they seem so well-suited to discussions about inside and outside worlds.

Let's say we live in the world of a video game and, within this world, there is a crafting system. In this crafting system we can combine objects (as an analog to addition) to create new objects. By observing our game world and experimenting with recipes we could learn all of the relationships regarding which objects combine and how. It would be impossible within this game world to dispute that, for instance, three medical herbs combine to become a healing potion. It would be demonstrable and directly observable, just like arithmetic functions appear to us. From outside of the video game it is plain to see, however, that the crafting system is arbitrary and that there is nothing that would prohibit us from programming the game so that it took four medical herbs to make a healing potion instead of three. Denizens of such a world have no way of discerning whether the rules of the crafting system are necessary or arbitrary.

Interestingly, there are even examples of crafting systems in games that are internally inconsistent or "broken" in the parlance of gamers. Consider the recently released game Cyberpunk 2077. In that game, items can be dismantled into components which can then be reassembled into new items. However, due to the way the crafting system was arranged, it is possible to take items that are worth some amount, dismantle them, re-assemble them into new items and sell those items for a more than what the original items were worth. Simply put, you can get more out than you put in and exploit the system to generate infinite cash.

The rules and properties associated with numbers and the operations we can perform on them are discoverable to us but there is nothing that prohibits them from being different, being inconsistent or changing. We've never observed that to be the case in our world, but by looking at worlds which we simulate, it's clear that we could assign properties and relationships on a purely arbitrary basis. We could make a simulation where 2 + 2 = 4, except on Wednesdays. We could program a simulation where the quantity of objects is constantly changing every time we count them and where mathematical operations have randomized or otherwise unpredictable results.

If it's possible that we live in a simulation then it is possible that what we observe, such as 2 + 2 = 4, is just made up and doesn't have any correspondence with how the outside world works. There's no way of determining how likely any given arbitrary system is either. What's the likelihood, for example, that a simulation designer would require three herbs to make a potion versus, four or five or any other number? It's absolutely unknowable and can't even be guessed at.

The same is true for any observation made from within a supposed simulation. There is no guarantee and certainly no way of ever proving that what is observed within the simulation correlates in any way with the outside world. As such, all observations, statements, arguments and so on, must be qualified as being potentially wrong, absolutely unproveable or, equivalently, simply left unsaid.

For that reason, I assert that we must reject the possibility of being in a simulation. Without this rejection we are forced to remain silent about the universe and our experiences within it.

As such, I can happily accept your first premise for the sake of argument, but by doing so, the conversation, for all practical purposes, ends.
 

Jarhyn

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I contend that you have not meaningfully defended your ideas from certain specific and repeated criticisms I've made. I assume that you are arguing in good faith, but your responses have consistently failed to address direct questions and the various passages I've written to explain my position. It's unsurprising that you would feel like no progress is being made when you consider that you have not engaged the main thrust of my argument.

The key item that I have yet to see you touch upon is the implication of your first premise on our knowledge of the universe. Do you acknowledge or do you dispute that if we accept the premise "It's possible we're in a simulation," that this implies that we cannot know anything at all?


I think what you say here further belies the fact that you have not been following along. Unfortunately, it also reveals a predilection for fallacious reasoning. I'll address these two parts separately.

Regarding the former, I do not claim that we do not actually have awareness. I do not even know what it would mean for my apparent sense of awareness to be false. You, however, have put forth the premise "It's possible we're in a simulation," which bears the implication that nothing is knowable for sure, even our apparent sense of awareness. I think you must be confusing my personal beliefs about the apparent universe with the necessary conclusions that result from accepting your first premise. In simple terms, I'm not telling you what I believe about awareness, I'm telling you about the implications of accepting your premise.

Regarding the latter, it is troubling in the extreme that you would first raise an appeal to authority and an appeal to the people (both well-known fallacies) and then go on to defend those appeals. It's also mildly disturbing that you seem to be making a sideways allegation that I claim any level of authority on this or any other subject. I do not.

The number of people who espouse an argument has no influence on the truth or falsity of that argument. You might appreciate that I have not criticized your arguments on the basis that nobody has echoed them or expressed support for them. Arguments stand on their own, regardless of how many people are making them or what famous people support them.

It is patently false that "things are more likely to make sense if a lot of scientists accept it". It is also false that an argument requires the support of an authority in order to be true or to be worthy of consideration.

I'm not particularly inclined to go on about the reasons why appeals to authority and appeals to the people are fallacious forms of reasoning because others elsewhere have already done a nice job of explaining them and you can easily google "argumentum ad populum" and "argumentum ab auctoritate".

excreationist said:
Perhaps this graph applies to your level of expertise in this area:
I'm going to assume, rightly or not, that this comment and the accompanying graph were posted in jest.

excreationist said:
I tried to use normal reasoning with you but like I said I've been getting nowhere at all.
I, again, contend that you have not. Reasoning with me would require you to directly engage the arguments I'm making. One, in particular, about the necessary implications of your first premise, has been untouched by you and is the perfect place to start. "Normal" reasoning, in my humble opinion, should also exclude fallacious forms of reasoning like appeals to authority and appeals to the people. It is well-established that the truth of something is independent from who or how many people put their name behind it.

Let's talk about your argument, not what famous people or lots of people think.

excreationist said:
Since I haven't argued against that before and it is interesting I will attempt to respond to this...

So how would it work? Let's say they had two seemingly equal groups of circles.... they count the first group while pointing at the circles - "1, 2". Then the second - "1, 2". Then they try to count them all while pointing to each circle: "1, 2, 3, 3" or "1, 2, 3, 5". Or they could go "1, 2, 3" while skipping a circle (with no-one ever realizing) - or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" while always counting one circle twice. Or a circle appears or disappears when they are counting them all (but there are two lots of two when they are doing the first part (2 + 2)).

That also implies that 2,000 + 2,000 is not 4,000 - instead it would agree with the first method.... so it would be 3,000 or 5,000 (or whatever the answer you're trying to trick them with).

Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?

Perhaps you'd say that we can't know how likely it is and that it could be quite likely....
I think it is quite easy to imagine how numbers and arithmetic could be a deception if one were in a simulation. Let's use another video game example since they seem so well-suited to discussions about inside and outside worlds.

Let's say we live in the world of a video game and, within this world, there is a crafting system. In this crafting system we can combine objects (as an analog to addition) to create new objects. By observing our game world and experimenting with recipes we could learn all of the relationships regarding which objects combine and how. It would be impossible within this game world to dispute that, for instance, three medical herbs combine to become a healing potion. It would be demonstrable and directly observable, just like arithmetic functions appear to us. From outside of the video game it is plain to see, however, that the crafting system is arbitrary and that there is nothing that would prohibit us from programming the game so that it took four medical herbs to make a healing potion instead of three. Denizens of such a world have no way of discerning whether the rules of the crafting system are necessary or arbitrary.

Interestingly, there are even examples of crafting systems in games that are internally inconsistent or "broken" in the parlance of gamers. Consider the recently released game Cyberpunk 2077. In that game, items can be dismantled into components which can then be reassembled into new items. However, due to the way the crafting system was arranged, it is possible to take items that are worth some amount, dismantle them, re-assemble them into new items and sell those items for a more than what the original items were worth. Simply put, you can get more out than you put in and exploit the system to generate infinite cash.

The rules and properties associated with numbers and the operations we can perform on them are discoverable to us but there is nothing that prohibits them from being different, being inconsistent or changing. We've never observed that to be the case in our world, but by looking at worlds which we simulate, it's clear that we could assign properties and relationships on a purely arbitrary basis. We could make a simulation where 2 + 2 = 4, except on Wednesdays. We could program a simulation where the quantity of objects is constantly changing every time we count them and where mathematical operations have randomized or otherwise unpredictable results.

If it's possible that we live in a simulation then it is possible that what we observe, such as 2 + 2 = 4, is just made up and doesn't have any correspondence with how the outside world works. There's no way of determining how likely any given arbitrary system is either. What's the likelihood, for example, that a simulation designer would require three herbs to make a potion versus, four or five or any other number? It's absolutely unknowable and can't even be guessed at.

The same is true for any observation made from within a supposed simulation. There is no guarantee and certainly no way of ever proving that what is observed within the simulation correlates in any way with the outside world. As such, all observations, statements, arguments and so on, must be qualified as being potentially wrong, absolutely unproveable or, equivalently, simply left unsaid.

For that reason, I assert that we must reject the possibility of being in a simulation. Without this rejection we are forced to remain silent about the universe and our experiences within it.

As such, I can happily accept your first premise for the sake of argument, but by doing so, the conversation, for all practical purposes, ends.

I'm not Ex, so forgive the impertinence of answering for something not posed to me.

That said...

"We can know things about the universe" is an axiom.

Axioms cannot be proven. They can only be assumed.

We have no reason, other than "it hasn't happened yet" to believe the universe will not, for instance, have a different speed of light tomorrow.

Of course were that to happen, I don't think we would be around to observe it since it would fuck everything up hardcore, assuming "time" assuming "time" even has meaning on the other side of that event.

There is nothing to differentiate, internally, a universe where the speed of light changes due to a part of how "natural universe where that happened" functions naturally, vs a universe where it happened because someone changed a value on a form somewhere and hit "apply". It's still the same universe, regardless of simulation.

It doesn't matter whether your universe is simulated or what anyone believes they know about the universe. The universe will function as it does. Hopefully, it will continue functioning without such perturbations.
 

excreationist

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...I do not claim that we do not actually have awareness. I do not even know what it would mean for my apparent sense of awareness to be false. You, however, have put forth the premise "It's possible we're in a simulation," which bears the implication that nothing is knowable for sure, even our apparent sense of awareness.
Then are you claiming that it is possible we do not have awareness IF we are in a simulation? And if it is possible we are simulation then would you agree that it is possible we do not have awareness?
It's also mildly disturbing that you seem to be making a sideways allegation that I claim any level of authority on this or any other subject. I do not.
Actually I suspected that you aren't very qualified on the subject. You ignored my mention of qualia, the "hard problem" and the observer. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with them.


The number of people who espouse an argument has no influence on the truth or falsity of that argument.
That might be code for "I don't know of anyone else that agrees with me".
excreationist said:
Perhaps this graph applies to your level of expertise in this area:
attachment.php
I'm going to assume, rightly or not, that this comment and the accompanying graph were posted in jest.
It is based on the Dunning Kruger effect
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect
You seemed to say you didn't have much authority in the field and like the graph you seem to have a lot of confidence about your arguments related to awareness in a simulation. Even though you aren't aware of someone who agrees with you you are completely confident.
excreationist said:
[About a decepetion involving 2 + 2 = 4]...So how would it work? Let's say they had two seemingly equal groups of circles.... they count the first group while pointing at the circles - "1, 2". Then the second - "1, 2". Then they try to count them all while pointing to each circle: "1, 2, 3, 3" or "1, 2, 3, 5". Or they could go "1, 2, 3" while skipping a circle (with no-one ever realizing) - or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" while always counting one circle twice. Or a circle appears or disappears when they are counting them all (but there are two lots of two when they are doing the first part (2 + 2)).


That also implies that 2,000 + 2,000 is not 4,000 - instead it would agree with the first method.... so it would be 3,000 or 5,000 (or whatever the answer you're trying to trick them with).


Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?


Perhaps you'd say that we can't know how likely it is and that it could be quite likely....
I think it is quite easy to imagine how numbers and arithmetic could be a deception if one were in a simulation. Let's use another video game example since they seem so well-suited to discussions about inside and outside worlds.
You totally ignored my counting circles example. I'd say that counting circles involves arithmetic and 2 + 2.... you count two, then another two, then count the total... that involves addition. Instead you go on and on about Cyberpunk 2077 which isn't about 2 + 2 = 4. This is the type of thing I'm frustrated with. You also seem to have ignored the rest of that post (about the likelihood and demand for deceiving the world about addition).
If it's possible that we live in a simulation then it is possible that what we observe, such as 2 + 2 = 4, is just made up and doesn't have any correspondence with how the outside world works.
But what about my circles example?
 

excreationist

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connick:
For the authority and awareness topic I will probably continue to use fallacious reasoning but I think the counting circles topic (to implement 2 + 2) will use reasonable arguments.
 

George S

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Random thoughts about "the simulation."
Sometimes I'm sure I see code reuse. The drama is always the same -- an oft-told tale. Two people meet, sex ensues, drama happens. Someone makes a religious claim, war ensues, drama. Someone makes a law, rebellion ensues, drama. Someone acquires unearned value through theft or fraud, police action ensues, drama.
 

connick

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Jarhyn said:
"We can know things about the universe" is an axiom.

Axioms cannot be proven. They can only be assumed.
I totally agree and have said as much already. As I have mentioned before, I contend that we must axiomatically (without proof of any kind) reject the notion that the universe might be entirely unknowable. The justification for adopting this axiom is that, otherwise, we are confined to a single premise - that all knowledge is suspect - and can say nothing further.

Jarhyn said:
There is nothing to differentiate, internally, a universe where the speed of light changes due to a part of how "natural universe where that happened" functions naturally, vs a universe where it happened because someone changed a value on a form somewhere and hit "apply". It's still the same universe, regardless of simulation.

It doesn't matter whether your universe is simulated or what anyone believes they know about the universe. The universe will function as it does. Hopefully, it will continue functioning without such perturbations.
Those are good points.

Events which occur "naturally" or as a result of intervention in a simulation are indistinguishable from one another.

The universe will, tautologically, "function as it does" and one's beliefs about it will not change that. However, one's beliefs do matter in terms of what one can coherently consider or discuss. If one assumes that the universe might be unknowable, then no other statements or inferences can be coherently made.

excreationist said:
Then are you claiming that it is possible we do not have awareness IF we are in a simulation? And if it is possible we are simulation then would you agree that it is possible we do not have awareness?
Yes.

excreationist said:
Actually I suspected that you aren't very qualified on the subject. You ignored my mention of qualia, the "hard problem" and the observer. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with them.
It's a good thing then that my qualifications have no bearing on the validity of any arguments I might make. While I'm familiar with the idea of qualia, the so-called "hard problem" and observers (I presume in this context you are alluding to the so-called "observer effect"), there really hasn't been any point in discussing them with you in this thread because your first premise makes them irrelevant.

It doesn't make any sense to talk about what happened during a baseball game when it was called off for rain. It doesn't make any sense to talk about anything at all when your first premise implies that we can't talk about anything else.

You'll appreciate, I hope, that I have addressed your arguments directly, rather than criticize you for your apparent lack of qualifications in any field.

excreationist said:
That might be code for "I don't know of anyone else that agrees with me".
It doesn't matter whether anyone agrees with me or not. You'll appreciate, I hope, that I have addressed your argument directly rather than the fact that nobody agrees with you. You'll also appreciate, I hope, that I haven't misrepresented your words as concessions made in coded language.

excreationist said:
It is based on the Dunning Kruger effect
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunnin...3Kruger_effect
You seemed to say you didn't have much authority in the field and like the graph you seem to have a lot of confidence about your arguments related to awareness in a simulation. Even though you aren't aware of someone who agrees with you you are completely confident.
I'm familiar with the Dunning Kruger effect. I'm quite confident in my ability to draw obvious inferences from simple premises. It doesn't take much knowledge in any field to realize that "it's possible we're in a simulation," implies that "it's possible that all of our perceptions are deceptions." It takes less knowledge still to realize that "it's possible that all of our perceptions are deceptions" implies that we can't make any other coherent statements about what we think we perceive.

excreationist said:
You totally ignored my counting circles example. I'd say that counting circles involves arithmetic and 2 + 2.... you count two, then another two, then count the total... that involves addition. Instead you go on and on about Cyberpunk 2077 which isn't about 2 + 2 = 4. This is the type of thing I'm frustrated with. You also seem to have ignored the rest of that post (about the likelihood and demand for deceiving the world about addition).
I didn't ignore your example. My explanation addressed your example and similar ones at the same time. To humor you, however, I'll address it explicitly below.

As for going "on and on about Cyberpunk 2077", I think that's a dishonest way to characterize a short paragraph consisting of five sentences which provide a relevant example of arbitrary and internally inconsistent rules within a simulation.

I also didn't ignore the part of your post about the likelihood or motivations (if any exist) for there being a simulation where mathematics do not correlate with an outside world.

I responded,

connick said:
There's no way of determining how likely any given arbitrary system is either. What's the likelihood, for example, that a simulation designer would require three herbs to make a potion versus, four or five or any other number? It's absolutely unknowable and can't even be guessed at.
If it wasn't clear from the above, the impossibility of determining anything about the outside world renders questions of demand or intent irrelevant.


As for being frustrated, you could imagine my frustration that you have still yet to respond to my central criticism of your argument. I've attempted to be courteous and address each of your points in detail, while continually asking that you do the same for me. However, you address only small parts of the arguments addressed to you by myself and others.

If you would respond meaningfully to criticisms of your argument, rather than lamenting that you seem to be getting nowhere and sharing links to Rick and Morty videos, you might get somewhere.

excreationist said:
But what about my circles example?
While I feel that my previous explanation adequately covered your example, I'm happy to talk about it in more explicit terms.

excreationist said:
Let's say they had two seemingly equal groups of circles.... they count the first group while pointing at the circles - "1, 2". Then the second - "1, 2". Then they try to count them all while pointing to each circle: "1, 2, 3, 3" or "1, 2, 3, 5". Or they could go "1, 2, 3" while skipping a circle (with no-one ever realizing) - or "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" while always counting one circle twice. Or a circle appears or disappears when they are counting them all (but there are two lots of two when they are doing the first part (2 + 2)).
The above examples are all possible. If you could imagine a method to program a simulation so that counting comes out differently, then it could be implemented. Moreover, even if you can't imagine such a method, that is a limitation of the imagination, not a limitation on what could be true in an outside world.

All that is required for your specific example to take place is for the program to say that when four objects are counted, the outcome is not four. It could be like you said, that when they count they just arrive at a different total, or that they skip a circle, or that they count circles extra times or that the circles come and go during counting. You could even make it so that any time any number of objects is counted the outcome is always four.

This is why the Cyberpunk example was totally relevant. You could make math work any way you want in a simulation, even in ways that "break" the simulation. I'm sure you can imagine that if counting objects always came up with four as the answer, that things like simple accounting (if it even made sense to undertake such activities under those circumstances) would be very different.

excreationist said:
That also implies that 2,000 + 2,000 is not 4,000 - instead it would agree with the first method.... so it would be 3,000 or 5,000 (or whatever the answer you're trying to trick them with).
This implication does not hold up. It assumes that the way math works within a simulation must be internally consistent. It need not be.

You could very easily set up a list of operands, operators and the desired results.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 7
1 + 3 = 956
...
2,000 + 2,000 = 5,000
2,001 + 5,000 = 5
...
etc.

You could even have the results be random or impossible. Since you've mentioned coding approaches to optimizing simulations for efficiency, I presume that you understand some basic coding principles, including the fact that functions may be defined arbitrarily as described above.

excreationist said:
Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?
As I have mentioned before, there is no way of telling what the outside world might be like so there's no way to know how likely anything is or whether there might be any demand for it.

If you are having trouble imagining any scenarios at all where it might be desired, I can throw out an example or two, but remember that what's possible is not limited by what we can imagine.

As you mentioned before, there are ways to save computation cycles by not simulating things in fine detail. If computational resources were important in the outside world, then it might be desirable to abbreviate arithmetic computations. Wouldn't it be faster and simpler to make every addition problem have a sum of four rather than actually carry out the computation? If, for the purpose of the simulation (whatever that might be) arithmetic sums within the simulation are unimportant, then it wouldn't make any difference what the outcomes were. It could also just be that math in our world is arbitrarily made up like the points system in Pac-man.

excreationist said:
For the authority and awareness topic I will probably continue to use fallacious reasoning but I think the counting circles topic (to implement 2 + 2) will use reasonable arguments.
I'm going to have to strongly object to this. You aren't doing yourself or your interlocutors any favors by engaging (deliberately, no less) in fallacious reasoning. If you judge an argument by whether or not other people support it, you will eventually be misled and arrive at false conclusions. Instead, you should judge an argument on its own merits. Consider what is being argued logically, the implications of the argument and the evidence that supports or disconfirms it.

So, ten plus pages after I've arrived in this conversation, I'd really appreciate if you could respond to my original and still unaddressed criticism of your argument. Thanks.
 

excreationist

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....So, ten plus pages after I've arrived in this conversation, I'd really appreciate if you could respond to my original and still unaddressed criticism of your argument. Thanks.
I suspect that for me to respond to it properly would involve me agreeing with it a lot and I don't. I didn't get anywhere but now I'm attempting to argue against problematic arithmetic. Arithmetic in a simulation is all I want to talk about now - otherwise it might go another ten pages on the original topics with both of us being frustrated.
.....This implication does not hold up. It assumes that the way math works within a simulation must be internally consistent. It need not be....
But I think it is likely to in a simulation like the one we find ourselves in (i.e. not Cyberpunk 2077)

You could very easily set up a list of operands, operators and the desired results.

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 7
1 + 3 = 956
The person would find it illogical that for the first two examples the result takes a couple of seconds to count while the third takes many minutes.
2,000 + 2,000 = 5,000
2,001 + 5,000 = 5
The person would find it illogical that the second example takes only a couple of seconds to count while the first takes about an hour for the total but they both take about an hour to count the left side of the addition.
And it would mean that travelling for 2001 metres then 5000 metres means they've travelled for 5 metres...
excreationist said:
Even if you can argue that this is possible, how likely is it? How much demand is there for simulations that trick all of the people that 2 + 2 is something else other than 4?
As I have mentioned before, there is no way of telling what the outside world might be like so there's no way to know how likely anything is or whether there might be any demand for it.
Well I thought it was self-evident that there wouldn't be much demand to deceive people in a simulation about arithmetic....
If you are having trouble imagining any scenarios at all where it might be desired, I can throw out an example or two, but remember that what's possible is not limited by what we can imagine.
Yes it is possible that there is a small amount of demand....
....All that is required for your specific example to take place is for the program to say that when four objects are counted, the outcome is not four. It could be like you said, that when they count they just arrive at a different total, or that they skip a circle, or that they count circles extra times or that the circles come and go during counting. You could even make it so that any time any number of objects is counted the outcome is always four.
So you could have five objects - count them and it counts up to four. Then get half of them and count them - four. Then take those away and count the remainder - four. So 4 - 4 = 4....

It would cause a problem with economics and finance... Say there were 5 coins... when you count them you get 4. Then you give "4" (one) to one person, another "4" (one) to another, etc, until you suddenly have zero (I assume zero doesn't count to four).

....I'm sure you can imagine that if counting objects always came up with four as the answer, that things like simple accounting (if it even made sense to undertake such activities under those circumstances) would be very different.
I'm talking about simulations that are like the world we find ourselves in - so if accounting doesn't work then it isn't a simulation like our own. So then perhaps you can say something about the simulation - that you can't have a situation where counting always gives the answer of 4.
I am surprised that you are continuing to insist that arithmetic doesn't need to be consistent in a simulation... I thought it would be easy to argue against this but I'm still not really getting anywhere.... but I still will try to argue on this arithmetic topic...
 

excreationist

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.....As for going "on and on about Cyberpunk 2077", I think that's a dishonest way to characterize a short paragraph consisting of five sentences which provide a relevant example of arbitrary and internally inconsistent rules within a simulation.
Yeah sorry I changed my mind and wanted to remove that statement but then it was too late to edit it.

As far as the authority and awareness topics go I don't think I can make any progress even if I stop using fallacious reasoning.

....You could even make it so that any time any number of objects is counted the outcome is always four...
It seemed like it would be easy to dispute this.... but we'll see....

So 1 is 4 (in a possible simulation).... a room full of things is 4.... everything in the world is 4... 1/2 is 4.... 1/1000 is 4???

Perhaps the people would use an alternative to precise arithmetic... e.g. there is a "bit" and "quite a bit" and a bit and another bit is almost "quite a bit"... if you have enough bits then you have "quite a bit". A few "quite a bits" makes "quite a lot"...
 
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Jarhyn

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some words
So to not belabor the previous post... Well, at all, really...

The idea that the universe is a simulation creates an interesting dichotomy of thoughts in this schema where we must believe perhaps not that the universe is knowable, but that there are degrees of wrongness, from "the least wrong we know of" to "not even wrong". This, in a view of compatibilism, becomes "knowledge".. but I think it's Important given what we fairly well what seems the case to accept, not that any axiom is right, but rather axiomatically accept that all knowledge is flawed, including the axioms themselves.

That said, I tend to agree that we ought take our suppositions about what may happen from the corpus of what has, rather than taking stock in fantasy without evidence.

I will say that should there be some apparent "open channel", though, that I will not dismiss it out of hand. I will, however, apply the full measure of my doubt when the need to trust has passed.
 

connick

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excreationist said:
I suspect that for me to respond to it properly would involve me agreeing with it a lot and I don't. I didn't get anywhere but now I'm attempting to argue against problematic arithmetic. Arithmetic in a simulation is all I want to talk about now - otherwise it might go another ten pages on the original topics with both of us being frustrated.
I really don't follow your reasoning here. I can't understand why responding to my original criticism would require you to agree with something you don't agree with. If you agree, then agree. If you disagree, you can say why. Anyway, I'll humor you for a bit on the condition that, when we resolve your questions about arithmetic in simulations, we return to the original subject and come to some sort of understanding.

excreationist said:
But I think it is likely [that the way math works within a simulation must be internally consistent] in a simulation like the one we find ourselves in (i.e. not Cyberpunk 2077)
In order to make judgements about what is likely or not, you need some prior information. For instance, if you wanted to judge how likely it was for you to see a moose on vacation, you'd need some idea of where moose live and how many there are, otherwise you'd be making an uninformed, unjustified guess.

The fact that math in our universe doesn't appear to be broken or inconsistent doesn't really give us any information about a broader population of possible simulations. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that there are 100 simulations running in the outer world, one of which is ours. If we only know how math works in one out of 100 simulations then we can't make any reasonable guesses about how it might work in the other 99. Worse, there's nothing that really gives us a way to gauge how many other simulations there might be. We could be the only one or we could be one out of an unlimited number of simulations.

excreationist said:
The person would find it illogical that for the first two examples the result takes a couple of seconds to count while the third takes many minutes.
I disagree. Since the person is working within the rules of their simulated universe, they wouldn't know of or expect any other result. It would be natural to them. If people in another simulation were always born with eight fingers, it wouldn't seem odd to them unless they knew that in other universes people are typically born with ten.

excreationist said:
The person would find it illogical that the second example takes only a couple of seconds to count while the first takes about an hour for the total but they both take about an hour to count the left side of the addition.
And it would mean that travelling for 2001 metres then 5000 metres means they've travelled for 5 metres...
Again, if that's all they've ever known, it wouldn't seem odd in the least. They might wonder why math in their world worked a certain way, like how we wonder about the distribution of prime numbers, but they'd have no reason to suspect that something was amiss. It would just be the way things work in their world.

As I mentioned before, you could arrange the rules of a simulation however you like and nobody within the simulation would be the wiser. You have to remember that someone in a simulation has no way of telling what things are like outside of the simulation or within another simulation, so they have no basis for comparison.

excreationist said:
Well I thought it was self-evident that there wouldn't be much demand to deceive people in a simulation about arithmetic....
In addition to the fact that we can't make any justified guesses about what is in demand in an outside world, we also can't know whether any particular feature of the simulation was deliberately configured for some reason (such as to sell more simulations) or arbitrarily (because nobody cares, there is nobody to care or just by happenstance). Nothing about what goes on in an outside world is self-evident. In fact, it is quite the opposite since nothing about an outside world is knowable at all.

excreationist said:
Yes it is possible that there is a small amount of demand....
Yes, but it's also possible that there is a ton of demand or even that simulations in the outside world must misrepresent arithmetic (assuming there is something equivalent). As you have alluded to before, maybe it is impossible or at the least impractical to simulate everything in minute detail. Maybe if we reach the observational boundaries of the simulation we find that numbers are truncated or rounded or there is just a big gray wall with a sign that says "out of memory".

It's all purely speculation because, again, we can't know anything about the outside world. The fact that we can't know means that anything could be possible, even things that might make no sense to us.

excreationist said:
So you could have five objects - count them and it counts up to four. Then get half of them and count them - four. Then take those away and count the remainder - four. So 4 - 4 = 4....

It would cause a problem with economics and finance... Say there were 5 coins... when you count them you get 4. Then you give "4" (one) to one person, another "4" (one) to another, etc, until you suddenly have zero (I assume zero doesn't count to four).
I can imagine all sorts of scenarios where inconsistencies in a simulation might cause strange behavior like what you describe above. I likewise imagine that, in a world where math was "broken", the beings there might not bother to engage in economics and finance. Alternatively, there might be people who exploit these inconsistencies to their advantage. It's like perpetual motion machines in our world. If someone could find a way to get more energy out of a system than they put in, we'd have unlimited energy and travel the universe.

The thing to remember here is that no matter what the rules might be within a simulation, to an observer inside the simulation, that would just be the way things are. It wouldn't seem weird (sure, they might do things differently than we do) because they have nothing to compare against.

excreationist said:
I'm talking about simulations that are like the world we find ourselves in - so if accounting doesn't work then it isn't a simulation like our own. So then perhaps you can say something about the simulation - that you can't have a situation where counting always gives the answer of 4.
I am surprised that you are continuing to insist that arithmetic doesn't need to be consistent in a simulation... I thought it would be easy to argue against this but I'm still not really getting anywhere.... but I still will try to argue on this arithmetic topic...
Well, at the outset we were talking about "a" simulation, not a specific subset of simulations that only meet certain criteria. Nevertheless, being more specific about types of simulations we could be in doesn't really help us in knowing anything about an outside world. Plus, the only thing we would then "know" about those simulation would be that they were restricted to the class of simulations that was arbitrarily chosen.

It shouldn't be surprising that I am insisting that arithmetic need not be consistent in a simulation. It's readily provable because we can make simulations where math is broken in exactly the ways I have already described. We can do it right now.

Here is a function that adds two numbers together:

float addition(float num1, float num2)
{
return num1 + num2;
}

Here is a "broken" version where the result is always four:

float addition(float num1, float num2)
{
return 4;
}

Here is another "broken" version where the result is a random integer:

float addition(float num1, float num2)
{
return rand();
}

You could use any of these functions in a simulation. Of course, the latter two examples will result in behavior that is unlike what we are familiar with. Nevertheless, it is trivial to create a simulation with inconsistent arithmetic.

excreationist said:
Yeah sorry I changed my mind and wanted to remove that statement but then it was too late to edit it.
I appreciate the apology. Let's both try to not let our frustration get the better of us.

excreationist said:
As far as the authority and awareness topics go I don't think I can make any progress even if I stop using fallacious reasoning.
Well, I don't think that progress based on fallacious reasoning could be called progress at all. Another form of fallacious reasoning is wishful thinking, but I hope you'll agree that wishing something were true does not make it true. In the same way that we cannot wish truth into our arguments, we cannot rely on popular thinking or authority figures to imbue our arguments with truth.

Progress is not simply advancing your argument despite valid criticisms. Sometimes progress is acknowledging those criticisms and, if they are valid, revising or abandoning your original argument. There's no shame in it and, in fact, many of the people here would applaud a revision of your arguments to account for criticisms or abandoning them entirely if the situation is intractable.

excreationist said:
It seemed like it would be easy to dispute this.... but we'll see....

So 1 is 4 (in a possible simulation).... a room full of things is 4.... everything in the world is 4... 1/2 is 4.... 1/1000 is 4???

Perhaps the people would use an alternative to precise arithmetic... e.g. there is a "bit" and "quite a bit" and a bit and another bit is almost "quite a bit"... if you have enough bits then you have "quite a bit". A few "quite a bits" makes "quite a lot"...
I hope that my examples above and before will convince you of the fact that the way math works in a simulation can be purely arbitrary. How a denizen of a world with "broken" math might react is an interesting question and we have some examples in our world that we can consider; namely, a wealth of video games which simulate various systems. Sometimes people game the system and exploit the inconsistencies. Sometimes they make games difficult, confusing or impossible to play. Other times the inconsistencies go unnoticed. If you were born into a world with inconsistent mathematics, you'd just learn to live within the set of rules you were given.

Jarhyn said:
So to not belabor the previous post... Well, at all, really...

The idea that the universe is a simulation creates an interesting dichotomy of thoughts in this schema where we must believe perhaps not that the universe is knowable, but that there are degrees of wrongness, from "the least wrong we know of" to "not even wrong". This, in a view of compatibilism, becomes "knowledge".. but I think it's Important given what we fairly well what seems the case to accept, not that any axiom is right, but rather axiomatically accept that all knowledge is flawed, including the axioms themselves.

That said, I tend to agree that we ought take our suppositions about what may happen from the corpus of what has, rather than taking stock in fantasy without evidence.

I will say that should there be some apparent "open channel", though, that I will not dismiss it out of hand. I will, however, apply the full measure of my doubt when the need to trust has passed.
I appreciate your points. Thus far, my opinion is that we need only accept axioms that forestall subsequent reasoning or that are agreed upon as stipulations for specific arguments. I readily admit that the axiom that "we are not completely deceived about the universe" is indefensible on its own. We might well be. However, if we assume we might be wrong about everything, then we can't really say much, can we? That's been the main thrust of my entire debate with ex.
 

George S

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So I thought a bit about "simulations" with funny numbers. There is gold in many the role playing video game. In some the merchants all give the same price. Quest-givers have an infinite supply. No one can fail to get their gold-reward no matter how many other players got the same reward from him. In many it is not unusual to find "funny" loot (a wolf with a recipe for clams). The NPCs in these games do not find it unusual, being but code and all.
Arithmetic seems to have worked consistently over time. (1 drop + 1 drop = 1 drop twice as big. 1 Man + 1 Woman = 1 X, for many X) This could be copied from the natural reality in our simulation. A glimpse of reality unqualified.
 

connick

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George S said:
So I thought a bit about "simulations" with funny numbers. There is gold in many the role playing video game. In some the merchants all give the same price. Quest-givers have an infinite supply. No one can fail to get their gold-reward no matter how many other players got the same reward from him. In many it is not unusual to find "funny" loot (a wolf with a recipe for clams). The NPCs in these games do not find it unusual, being but code and all.
Arithmetic seems to have worked consistently over time. (1 drop + 1 drop = 1 drop twice as big. 1 Man + 1 Woman = 1 X, for many X) This could be copied from the natural reality in our simulation. A glimpse of reality unqualified.

I think these examples elucidate some of my points quite nicely.

Can you imagine the surprise and confusion an NPC in one of these games might feel if they dropped into (or up to?) our world?

"What do you mean gas costs a nickel more at this gas station? Gas is gas! Prices are always the same!"

"What do you mean you 'ran out' of toilet paper? You're the toilet paper vendor, you can't just 'run out'!"

"I stepped on an ant but it didn't drop two antennae and an egg sac. What gives?"

"I've been trying to combine these three wolf pelts and an iron ingot for an hour but, for some reason, they haven't turned into a +2 Dex Hunter's Cape!"


If we were in a simulation and suddenly found ourselves in the outer world, we'd probably appear just as ignorant and laughable.
 
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