Are we in a computer simulation?

by Brokeback Watchtower 68 Replies latest jw friends

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    I don't think that's the killer objection you take it to be.

    After all, is there any evidence that cumulative events in a purely material reality can create consciousness? If you say we are such evidence it rather begs the question.

  • Coded Logic
    Coded Logic

    Yes, there is very strong evidence that consciousness comes from physical brains. How do you not know this?

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    Our physical brains? As in the very brains that we are trying to work out if they are purely material or if they are a simulation? If your argument assumes that they are purely physical to start with that's called begging the question.

    You cant say "we know purely material brains give rise to consciousness because our brains are purely material and they give rise to consciousness" within the context of a discussion about whether our brains are purely material or part of a simulation. Because if we "knew" that, then we'd already know the answer to the very thing we are calling into question. And if we already "know" that our brains are not a simulation then there's no point having a discussion.

  • Coded Logic
    Coded Logic

    No, it is not question begging. ALL the evidence points to the fact that we are physical creatures in a physical world.

    Some have claimed that a simulated world would be perceptually identical to a physical world. I am curious how anyone could determine this without first showing that simulated worlds are capable of producing first person subjective experience (consciousness) that could perceive a simulated world.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat

    Okay I tried twice to show how it is begging the question. I won't flog a dead horse.

    I'll just point out that "all the evidence" you think shows we are physical creatures could equally be evidence that we are simulations of physical creatures. We cannot know which. We know we have consciousness. We don't know this has a purely physical base. We know it looks like it is purely physical, but that's what we'd expect from a simulation also. That's the point at issue. Simply saying "it looks this way" doesn't solve the puzzle.

    By the way I completely understand the point you are making. You are saying that, as sophisticated as simulations may be, there is no evidence that any entity within an simulation possesses consciousness. I completely understand this point you are making. But I also understand that it misses the point. In order to make the statement "we know of no simulation that possesses consciousness" you need to make the prior assumption that we ourselves are not simulations. And if you allow for that assumption you are begging the question.

    There I go, I tried a third time.

  • Coded Logic
    Coded Logic

    Assuming for a moment that we are in a simulation - then it follows we should be able to show that simulations can produce consciousness. Once we do that - we can say it's "possible" we're in a simulation.

    But, until such a time as that's shown to be the case, we neither know if it's possible or impossible.

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat
    Assuming for a moment that we are in a simulation - then it follows we should be able to show that simulations can produce consciousness.


    Or that we should be able to in the future. I don't think anyone is saying it's already possible.

    But what are the reasons for suspecting it will not be possible? Only on mystical grounds when you think about it. Consider this thought experiment: imagine the technology existed to replicate your physical body atom for atom including your brain. Would that new being possess consciousness? A committed materialist would surely need to answer yes. To answer otherwise would need to invoke a substance other than the material as being involved in consciousness. If nothing is involved in consciousness other than the material, then it follows that the ability to minutely engineer matter will result in the ability to replicate consciousness. If you say there is more to consciousness than replicating its material conditions then you are not a materialist!

  • Coded Logic
    Coded Logic
    But what are the reasons for suspecting it will not be possible?

    Because simulations do not have the properties of the things which they are simulating. They are a mathematical representation. Not an actual manifestation.

  • Ruby456
    Ruby456

    slim, but but.....hang on a mo - I am no philosopher but my gut tells me there is something wrong with the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation. For example I would argue that:

    we are always making simulations if simulation is taken to mean going over things and testing various scenarios. However to claim that we are in a computer simulation is asking us to consider that something like a brain in a vat is generating reality. That humans in fear of becoming extinct decide to put a brain in a vat to preserve knowledge for future generations. And if we do not do this the knowledge and expertise we have will pass away with us.

    The above is not exactly to do with consciousness but with preserving and using knowledge imo. If consciousness on the other hand has to do with employing memory for present conditions to fashion something for the future it can still be described as being material - even the humble amoeba does this and can be shown to do so - does the amoeba then have consciousness and is it material? I say yes!!!!!

  • slimboyfat
    slimboyfat
    Because simulations do not have the properties of the things which they are simulating. They are a mathematical representation. Not an actual manifestation.


    I guess it depends what you think consciousness is. If a computer works out that a conscious being would do a certain thing and simulates them doing so, versus a material being undergoing the same process and performing the same act, is there a meaningful distinction between the two? I guess you could say the "real" being "feels" it whereas the simulated version doesn't. But what does "feel" it mean? Once again it is a curious situation where in order to preserve a materialist perspective on reality one first needs to insist that there is more to reality than the material. That the mental world has a reality beyond what can be explained purely by the working of its parts.



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