Radically narrow, but given just how vast the option space is, it takes a whole lot more than radically narrowing before you can winnow it down to a manageable set of possibilities.

This post puts some numbers to the possible configurations you can get for a single lump of matter of about 1.5 kilograms. In a simulation of Earth, far more matter than that is in a completely unknown state and free to vary through a huge portion of its possibility space (that's not to say that even an appreciable fraction of matter on Earth is free to vary through all possible... (read more)

This post puts some numbers to the possible configurations you can get for a single lump of matter of about 1.5 kilograms.

Said reference post by AndrewHickey starts with a ridiculous assumption:

Assume, for a start, that all the information in your brain is necessary to resurrect you, down to the quantum level.

This is voodoo-quantum consciousness: the idea that your mind-identity somehow depends on details down to the quantum state. This can't possibly be true - because the vast vast majority of that state changes rapidly from quantum moment to mome... (read more)

0Jack9yGood point. I'm reconsidering... I wonder what kind of cascade effect there actually is- perhaps there are parts of the simulation that could be done using heuristics and statistical simplifications. Perhaps that could be done to initially narrow the answer space and then the precise simulation could be sped up by not having to simulate those answers that contradict the simplified model? I wonder how a hidden variable theory of quantum mechanics being true would effect the prospects for simulation- assuming a super intelligence could leverage that fact somehow (which is admittedly unlikely).

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).