Kent Forbes, Does the Simulation Hypothesis Defeat Materialism |323|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Kent Forbes, Does the Simulation Hypothesis Defeat Materialism |323|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Jul 27 | Consciousness Science

    This academic turned filmmaker believes science’s growing openness to the simulation hypothesis may overturn materialism.
    [​IMG]

    photo by: Kent Forbes
    Today on Skeptiko we joined by Kent Forbes, whose movie, The Simulation Hypothesis, explores the idea that reality is in fact a simulation in which we are unaware avatars. It may sound like a strange idea, but it’s gaining some attention among some high-profile, serious physicists. I just have to wonder if they’ve fully considered what this hypothesis means for materialism… fortunately for us, today’s guest has:

    Kent Forbes: It doesn’t happen overnight. The fact that someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson could come out and publicly endorse an idea, with the implications that the simulation hypothesis has, I think is noteworthy. Then [you have] other people immediately stepping forward [like] Elon Musk. You can talk about whether or not he has the qualifications to make such an endorsement but the point is that the idea is catching on. People who are recognized thinkers are saying, you know what, the explanatory power of this model is too great. It solves a lot of problems that are unsolvable under the strict materialist paradigm, and I’m going to overcome my emotional bias and I’m going to go with this. We’re going to take a chance. This is what bold scientists do. They look at something with a lot of explanatory power and they say, you know what, somebody has to step over this line. I’m going to do that.
     
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  2. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Interesting will be checking this one out
     
  3. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    What do materalist think about the big bang theory? What physical mechanism did the big bang come from?
     
  4. iPsoFacTo

    iPsoFacTo New

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    Wow, really looking forward to listening to this. It is right up my alley. I'm a big proponent of the simulated reality conjecture and all its various implications. ;;/?;;/?;;/?

    I sometimes think something akin of how we watch two dimensional movies with the actors in them experiencing all the same pleasures, tragedies and death but of course both viewers and actors are creatures existing in a higher (3rd) dimension and can see what does happen in movies for what they really are..... no one ultimately really dies or suffers.

    Likewise there's higher planes of existence above our own reality where our 'real' home is and all the sufferings of this world is just as ephemeral as the ones in our movies
     
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  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    Does the simulation hypothesis undermine materialistic science? Does it undermine a reductionist, matter-based, mind = brain idea that dominates science?


    BTW, here's the video that was mentioned:



    I'm going to check it out before I respond.
     
  6. To answer the final question - Depends on whether a simulation can produce thoughts and subjective experience.

    Are the agents in the simulation artifacts of the simulation itself or coming from a higher frame to participate in the lower frame of the simulation?
     
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  7. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Yes - this seems to be the crucial question!

    The simulation couldn't be done by a conventional (but ludicrously powerful) computer, but it could be done by some sort of conscious entity in an Idealist scheme.

    David
     
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  8. On the show ->

    Do you really need a God to have a simulation? Even Platonic Atheists accept possibility of simulation but don't really see the designers as being "God"?

    I like that Kent understood the impossibility of trying to assign quantitative units to emotional feeling, Arvan gets into this in his Peer to Peer Simulation Hypothesis idea (see below.)

    Also on the biases of scientists was a good topic to consider, something asserted from a(n admittedly single) study in the Critique of Science as Practiced thread.

    There does seem to be a paradigm change, with the number of STEM academics who are thinking there is something fundamental to Information, Mathematics, and/or Consciousness. (links go to Closer To Truth interviews)

    The first two, Information & Math, do seem from a layperson perspective to suggest a simulation hypothesis, perhaps suggesting we are "players" of the "game", something Bohm suggested long ago:

    "Consciousness is much more of the implicate order than is matter . . . Yet at a deeper level [matter and consciousness] are actually inseparable and interwoven, just as in the computer game the player and the screen are united by participation."
    -Statement of 1987, as quoted in Towards a Theory of Transpersonal Decision-Making in Human-Systems


    So Bohm seems to be suggesting the world is akin to a simulation, but we aren't transcendent users?

    Yeah, that's what Haisch & Whitworth think:

    The Physical World as a Virtual Reality by Brian Whitworth

    Is The Universe A Vast, Consciousness Created Virtual Reality Simulation? by Bernard Haisch

    Both of these have mentioned an issue with concepts like "laws" and "matter" that suggest something like a simulation hypothesis. It does seem that even if we said there's a higher materialist frame some of these same issues would just make us conclude that reality is a simulation.

    My personal favorite, as I've mentioned many times, is the Peer to Peer hypothesis. Arvan notes that there are intrinsic properties that cannot be simulated, specifically our subjective experience:

    p.s. Note the film for this show was mentioned in the Information & Reality thread. A lot of other stuff regarding Simulation Hypothesis in that thread, also some stuff in the Idealism thread.
     
  9. Kamarling

    Kamarling Member

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    I also think this is crucial. My personal opinion: I don't believe that subjectivity can be programmed.

    Something that, I think, was mentioned but not expanded upon in the film was the idea that the simulants' consciousness is still connected to, or part of, the source consciousness. That makes more sense to me.
     
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  10. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Great interview! Now that we're well past being convinced by the evidence that the simplistic materialistic reductionist BRIAMU (Biological Robot In A Meaningless Universe) is an incomplete or wrong explanation, its time to delve into the philosophy.

    "Does the simulation hypothesis undermine materialistic science? Does it undermine a reductionist, matter-based, mind = brain idea that dominates science?"

    It certainly adds a layer of interest. Whether or not it defeats BRIAMU I guess would depend on whether we are found to be "avatars" inside a game with our true selves outside of it or whether we are found to be "AI Bots" that are "artificially" created entirely within the game. I take the view that our ultimate origin comes from the light at the end of the tunnel... the end of infinity.

    Alex mentions the infinite regression leading to something like God... well we don't have to look at the simulation hypothesis to do that. We can do that anytime we like: what came before the big bang? What did it bang within? If a universe goes bang in the branes with no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

    Reductionist Materialist BRIAMU is pattern absolutism. But patterns are an interaction between subjectivity and objectivity so it is impossible to have absolute patterns without an absolute observer.

    It is very easy to undermine BRIAMU or any logical system which is a set of patterns. Reflexivity and Totality destroy patterns. Reflexivity always leads to either infinite regress or a vicious circle... "turtles all the way down" or "I think therefore I am - and I can't be certain of any thing more because all could be illusion" - solipsism. Totality can be expressed as One (boundaries and therefore patterns are illusory and only the whole is real), Zero (nothing is real except pure possibility) or Infinity which is the ratio of the whole to nothing. Imagine encountering a wall of infinite length. Compared to the wall you are nothing. Compared to the wall, your distance from the wall is nothing. Therefore, you are the wall. Therefore, you are infinite. Ratios are comparisons of patterns which are boundaries arbitrarily set by the observer. The observer can shift his perspective of boundaries to arrive at different patterns which could completely undermine the system of logic built upon those patterns. So 1, 0, and infinity can can be thought of as the same thing viewed from different perspectives - all of which dissolve boundaries which are the very substance of pattern which is the foundation of all logic and all scientific exploration.

    I believe everything was created through reflexivity and can likewise be destroyed by it. "In the beginning... the Spirit of God moved over the waters" - symbolic of both reflection and the Abyss. As we develop new technologies, these are new reflections or new iterations of pattern at the leading edge of creation. Before the simulation hypothesis there was the dream hypothesis: that we are sharing a dream inside of a dream inside of a dream inside of God's dream.

    While it is fun to destroy our models of reality with mind-bending examples of reflexivity, infinite regress, oneness, or nothingness, at some point we have to come back to the fact that we are at the moment having an experience of being finite and that reality - whatever it really is - is what it appears to be. In other words, we have to live our lives as naive realists or go insane. But when the world becomes too much to bear from the naive realism perspective, it is nice to be able to destroy it with one of these mind tricks which resets our perspective.
     
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  11. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Does the simulation hypothesis undermine materialistic science? Does it undermine a reductionist, matter-based, mind = brain idea that dominates science?

    It probably does. I mean, if "matter" doesn't exist as "solid" particles, but as probabilities that are only actualised (i.e. made seemingly solid) when observed, then it would seem that consciousness (the observing principle) is what creates the so-very-compelling illusion of solidity rather than solid matter generating consciousness.

    It doesn't seem that consciousness can create any kind of world, though. Events would seem to be rigidly controlled by what the potentials are inherently able to actualise as. Performing double-slit experiments with electrons may produce results similar to experiments with buckyballs, i.e. wave-like or particle-like according to circumstance, but what is actualised at the target screen would presumably still be either electrons or buckyballs.

    Before the experiment, the buckyballs manifest themselves as apparently solid objects, and they do so again at the screen. In between, whilst in flight, and if unobserved at the slits, they would presumably become probabilities actualised as a wave-like pattern at the screen; otherwise if observed, they would demonstrate a clumping pattern [incidentally, the record for size has become much larger than buckyballs -- see https://medium.com/the-physics-arxi...ave-particle-duality-462c39db8e7b#.g6bdd9duh].

    Hence a "solid" object can exist as a particle, then a wave, and then a particle in the right circumstance. The double-slit experiment is what causes unobserved particles to be able to manifest as waves. I suppose you could even collect particles from the screen and send them back through the experiment to repeat the effect. But at no stage is there the potential for a buckyball to actualise as something completely different. It's always constrained to being a buckyball so long as the experiment is designed to prevent effects that might change its structure.

    I suppose what I'm getting at here is that yes, a thing can behave as either a particle or a wave according to whether or not it's observed, but its inherent nature and properties seem to be independent of its ability to exhibit wave or particle behaviour. A buckyball seems to be a buckyball whether or not it's exhibiting wave or particle behaviour. Buckyballs occur naturally, apparently (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullerene), and one wonders whether there's any chemical compound that doesn't; whether we can create any compound that isn't also created naturally, complete with its due complement of properties.

    Not entirely sure where I'm going with this. Maybe nowhere, but it reminds me of Sheldrake's notion of something happening making it easier for it to happen again. Kind of like the hundredth monkey idea, whether or not that's a factual example of morphic resonance. Rats finding their way out of mazes quicker over time, new compounds crystallising more easily over time, and so on. The idea that potentials have always existed, and that evolutionary processes eventually actualise them in nature, including human beings, which even have the superficial ability to actualise some things on their own account, but which they eventually discover have their templates in nature: such as rotary engines in flagella, for example. Likewise, many nano-machines in biological contexts have been actualised that are far more sophisticated than anything we're able to construct.

    But if we're living in a simulation, what's causing the simulation? Seemingly, something unimaginably cleverer than we are. Thinking of what it does as something akin to computer simulation is just a way of modelling it. A computer simulation relies on an intelligent programmer, to be sure, and likewise reality would depend on an intelligent, purposive agent. An agent whose creative capacities we reflect, albeit at a much simpler level, taking advantage of a fraction of its creative potential: we are beings that can consciously mirror some of that creative potential, and maybe that's what enables us to be aware that we're aware and spend so much time pondering where we came from and why we're here.
     
  12. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    A 'simulation' of what exactly?

    I can understand how a representational type theory of perception/experience might qualify, but only if there *really is* a world similar to this experience, which really exists outside of my experience and I'm modelling it in some way (perhaps as part of a group). I can't really see how I could prove otherwise either...

    ...but the idea of a *simulation* sounds like quite a down to earth idea, something like Steven Lehar's representational and indirect perceptual ideas about experience... and not at all the sort of message Alex is looking to promote?
     
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  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    it varies... but it's usually a give-me-one-miracle kinda thing :)
     
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  14. Alex

    Alex New

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    this is one of the really interesting parts of the simulation thing... I mean, I think some of these materialists are walking the plank without realizing what they're doing. It's a very slippery slope once one admits that consciousness is not a brain-based illusion... or a quantum-ly driven brain based illusion. of course, the whole materialist position is super silly from almost every angle to begin with so don't ex, but it's just kinda funny that some of these guys don't realize what they're stepping into.

    (wow... three mixed metaphors... pretty bad :()
     
  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    good point. remember back just a few episodes to the maddening silliness of Cal Tech / Harvard of physicist Dr. Sean Carroll (http://www.skeptiko.com/sean-carroll-thinks-life-is-meaningless-314/) who embarassingly argued against this.
     
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  16. But to have a simulation doesn't necessarily require one to think consciousness is non-material? The users would have to be transcendent or the material the simulation is made of would have to have some mental (or proto-mental) properties?

    My guess is if you asked, say, Neil Degrasse Tyson what the higher frame is made of he'd [say] it's a materialist world with possibly different physical laws.

    I do agree it's getting closer to ideas like an afterlife as there's no reason the simulated self has to die since you can have separate routines for the consciousness part and the body part. But it's almost more a materialist theism than an immaterialism?
     
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  17. iPsoFacTo

    iPsoFacTo New

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    Yeah.... assorted afterlives are probably simulations as well, lol.

    Maybe the whole regressive, 'then who made them' thing can be solved as a sort of mobius strip or one of them higher dimensional manifold thingies thus the creators and the simulations are all one and the same..... there's no beginning, there's no end involved. Everything folds in on itself eventually
     
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  18. malf

    malf Member

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    Very interesting show.

    It appears some 'illusions' are more palatable than others?

    I think that Neil deGrasse Tyson's comfort with this hypothesis indicates that most so-called 'hardcore materialists' are more humble to the ultimate mysteries, and more open to speculation, than their painted caricatures on this site would suggest.

    It's simulations all the way down :eek:
     
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  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    I feel like you're kinda making my point. I mean, apologists being apologists will always find a way back to their position, but in this case they're giving up a lot of ground.

    For example, re your first point about non-material consciousness, I don't think you can say ALL consciousness is material in the simulation hypothesis -- by definition there's something outside the simulation. This isn't contemplated/necessary in strict materialism. Everything is everything within materialism. Everything is not everything if our experience is a simulation.

    Again, I'm not arguing in favor of the simulation hypothesis. I'm just amazed these guys haven't thought thru what they're signing up for.
     
  20. iPsoFacTo

    iPsoFacTo New

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    This has me thinking about one of them tv specials Brian Cox had from an old historic Cambridge lecture hall where he says something to the effect, 'any change made to a sub atomic particle here triggers an instantaneous re-arrangement of every other particle in the universe..... adding then to the audience not to read into that any sort of spooky mumbo jumbo stuff.... that that was simply how things work'.

    Probably many scientists are perhaps therefore looking at a simulated reality more closely because that's where the mathematics and probabilities lie and if the day ever comes where experiments bolster the hypothesis, they still may be of the mind to tell the public not to 'read anything more' into it.
     

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