But running the simulation is running our reality. If they run multiple simulations with slight alterations to get the outcome they want, that's many realities that actually occur which don't achieve the results they want for every one that does. Likewise, rewinding the simulation may allow them to achieve the results they want, but it doesn't prevent the events they don't want from happening to us. Besides, there's no evidence that our universe is being guided according to any agent's utility function, and if it is, it's certainly not much like ours.


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Besides, there's no evidence that our universe is being guided according to any agent's utility function, and if it is, it's certainly not much like ours.

The SA mechanism places many constraints on the creator. They exist in a universe like ours, they are similar to our future descendants, they created us for a reason, and their utility function, morality, what have you all evolved from a universe like ours.

0jacob_cannell9yMonte carlo simulation. You don't run one simulation, you run many. There is no one single correct answer that the simulation is attempting to compute. It is a landscape, a multiverse, from which you sample.
0JoshuaZ9ySure, but think in terms of observers. From the perspective of the universe that the simulators end up keeping there's only one universe, the one where the simulators got what they wanted. Yes, you've made that point before. I don't disagree with it. I'm not sure why you are bringing it up again. It must contain the same information. It doesn't need to contain the same rules. This isn't true. For example, the doubling map [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyadic_transformation] is chaotic. Despite that, many points can have their orbits calculated without such work. For example, if the value of the starting point is rational, we can without much effort always give an exact value for any number of iterations with less computational effort than that in simply iterating the function. There are some complicating factors to this sort of analysis; in particular, if the universe is essentially discrete, then what we mean when we talk about chaos becomes subtle and if the universe isn't discrete then what we mean when we discuss computational complexity becomes subtle (we need to use Blum-Shub-Smale machines or something similar rather than Turing machines). But the upshot is that chaotic behavior is not equivalent to being computationally complex. There have been some papers trying to map out connections between the two (and I don't know that literature at all), and superficially there are some similarities between the two, but if someone could show deep, broad connections of the sort you seem to think are already known that would be the sort of thing that could lead to a Turing Award or a Fields Medal.

Theists are wrong; is theism?

by Will_Newsome 1 min read20th Jan 2011539 comments


Many folk here on LW take the simulation argument (in its more general forms) seriously. Many others take Singularitarianism1 seriously. Still others take Tegmark cosmology (and related big universe hypotheses) seriously. But then I see them proceed to self-describe as atheist (instead of omnitheist, theist, deist, having a predictive distribution over states of religious belief, et cetera), and many tend to be overtly dismissive of theism. Is this signalling cultural affiliation, an attempt to communicate a point estimate, or what?

I am especially confused that the theism/atheism debate is considered a closed question on Less Wrong. Eliezer's reformulations of the Problem of Evil in terms of Fun Theory provided a fresh look at theodicy, but I do not find those arguments conclusive. A look at Luke Muehlhauser's blog surprised me; the arguments against theism are just not nearly as convincing as I'd been brought up to believe2, nor nearly convincing enough to cause what I saw as massive overconfidence on the part of most atheists, aspiring rationalists or no.

It may be that theism is in the class of hypotheses that we have yet to develop a strong enough practice of rationality to handle, even if the hypothesis has non-negligible probability given our best understanding of the evidence. We are becoming adept at wielding Occam's razor, but it may be that we are still too foolhardy to wield Solomonoff's lightsaber Tegmark's Black Blade of Disaster without chopping off our own arm. The literature on cognitive biases gives us every reason to believe we are poorly equipped to reason about infinite cosmology, decision theory, the motives of superintelligences, or our place in the universe.

Due to these considerations, it is unclear if we should go ahead doing the equivalent of philosoraptorizing amidst these poorly asked questions so far outside the realm of science. This is not the sort of domain where one should tread if one is feeling insecure in one's sanity, and it is possible that no one should tread here. Human philosophers are probably not as good at philosophy as hypothetical Friendly AI philosophers (though we've seen in the cases of decision theory and utility functions that not everything can be left for the AI to solve). I don't want to stress your epistemology too much, since it's not like your immortal soul3 matters very much. Does it?

Added: By theism I do not mean the hypothesis that Jehovah created the universe. (Well, mostly.) I am talking about the possibility of agenty processes in general creating this universe, as opposed to impersonal math-like processes like cosmological natural selection.

Added: The answer to the question raised by the post is "Yes, theism is wrong, and we don't have good words for the thing that looks a lot like theism but has less unfortunate connotations, but we do know that calling it theism would be stupid." As to whether this universe gets most of its reality fluid from agenty creators... perhaps we will come back to that argument on a day with less distracting terminology on the table.



1 Of either the 'AI-go-FOOM' or 'someday we'll be able to do lots of brain emulations' variety.

2 I was never a theist, and only recently began to question some old assumptions about the likelihood of various Creators. This perhaps either lends credibility to my interest, or lends credibility to the idea that I'm insane.

Or the set of things that would have been translated to Archimedes by the Chronophone as the equivalent of an immortal soul (id est, whatever concept ends up being actually significant).