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Thread: Philosopher: We maybe living in 'the Matrix'

  1. #1

    Default Philosopher: We maybe living in 'the Matrix'

    Wonderful job this must be to get paid by an academic institution to make random shit up!

    Until I talked to Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford University, it never occurred to me that our universe might be somebody else’s hobby. I hadn’t imagined that the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the heavens and earth could be an advanced version of a guy who spends his weekends building model railroads or overseeing video-game worlds like the Sims.

    But now it seems quite possible. In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

    This simulation would be similar to the one in “The Matrix,” in which most humans don’t realize that their lives and their world are just illusions created in their brains while their bodies are suspended in vats of liquid. But in Dr. Bostrom’s notion of reality, you wouldn’t even have a body made of flesh. Your brain would exist only as a network of computer circuits.

    You couldn’t, as in “The Matrix,” unplug your brain and escape from your vat to see the physical world. You couldn’t see through the illusion except by using the sort of logic employed by Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford.

    Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.

    Some computer experts have projected, based on trends in processing power, that we will have such a computer by the middle of this century, but it doesn’t matter for Dr. Bostrom’s argument whether it takes 50 years or 5 million years. If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to run lots of simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of virtual ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors.
    Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch - New York Times

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Array Athenian200's Avatar
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    Jul 2007


    He stole my idea!

    I had a theory like this a long time ago. In fact, I think I wrote it here somewhere. I still think it might be the case.

    Does this mean I'm almost as smart as a person who works in an academic institution? That would be interesting.

  3. #3
    mountain surfing Array nomadic's Avatar
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    Jul 2008


    Dang... I wonder if there is a video of his lectures, and the reaction of the students. lolz

  4. #4
    A GOD Array Mace's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    8 sx
    --- Te


    Well, that's a thought.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array
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    Aug 2007


    Maybe the name of the "Future of Humanity Institute" should be changed, for consistency's sake.

    lowtech redneck, living down to the INTP stereotype.

  6. #6
    Senior Thread Terminator Array Aerithria's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Heh, I used to think about this sort of thing all the time when I was younger. I actually spent two weeks questioning every decision I made to see if it made sense, until I realized that if this sort of thing was true, it wouldn't matter. Plus, it was starting to get annoying. But yeah. Definitely a fun theory.
    [insert funny quote/saying/etc.]

  7. #7
    . Array Blank's Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    Someone needs to play a little less Star Ocean 3. >_>
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  8. #8
    cast shadows Array metaphours's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    I think the massive looming question behind the entire "virtual reality" idea is that, how would we know? How could this Nick Bostrom even begin to know that this life, this reality, isn't real and is in fact a simulation? It's impossible to verify that idea, because we are not the "creators" of the "simulation," and thus we can only speculate as to the authenticity of our reality.

  9. #9
    Lex Parsimoniae Array Xander's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Wait, this guy is a professor and all he could come up with was "If this fantasy condition existed then it could cause this fantasy condition according to the rules of my fantasy"?

    Oh great... I think he just evolved into a goldfish.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  10. #10


    Is this newsworthy? Almost every religion states that we are in fact living in a simulated environment by one or more intelligent overlords, and we reach 'reality' after our death.

    Whatever. According to Bostrom, we're living in a 'matrix' IF

    ~ there is no technological gap that makes civilizations self-destruct after reaching it OR
    ~ advanced civilizations are interested in running such simulations OR
    ~ we're not on the 'top of the list' in a timeline of civilizations

    One fact is interesting though, which he seemingly failed to realize: if a civilization reaches a stage where it is possible to start and maintain such a simulation, and they actually start the project, it is almost 100% sure that they are living in a simulated reality themselves; if they do not, it significantly reduces the possibility that they are living in a simulation. Such an advanced society would surely internalize this, and they would propably not start the simulation even if they have sufficient technology. This excludes the theory of a 'chain' of simulated worlds.

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