Re: New website: The Simulation Argument

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 18:51:07 MST

On Sunday, December 2, 2001, at 05:19 PM, James Rogers wrote:

> Perhaps, but sometimes the only way to "compute" complex scenarios is to
> actually run them; many problems cannot be efficiently solved through
> reduction. This kind of brings into question what a "simulation" is
> actually defined as for these purposes. Generally speaking, I don't
> see any
> difference between "simulation" and "computation" other than a rather
> arbitrary delineation based on subject matter.

Okay, here's how I make the difference:

A SIMULATION involves creating new minds who are defined as being self
aware and independent minds.

A COMPUTATION would a simulation where the minds involved weren't
independent or even really self aware, but function based on an
algorithm very much like that in a mind. Just as we can model simple
life forms (e.g. ants), we will all look like little ants to Powers.

The difference is important because, just like the artificial ants, the
artificial humans won't be real in that they won't have been programmed
as full minds, but to respond *like* they are full minds. Maybe a way
to think of it is that the fake humans needed for a computation are not
generally intelligent, but rather a facsimile of how humans react with a
Power behind them to insert a little real intelligence now and then when
needed. Classical AI grown up, maybe, and the possibility of
intervention every now and again?

Also, going back to your initial note, even if the problem can't be
reduced, it should be possible to run a very large computation without
having to go into simulations. It's really a question of how many
resources some SIs are willing to put into figuring out how some humans
acted or might have acted. Unless, of course, you're assuming that
there is some inherent difference between algorithms that respond like
humans and actual human mind algorithms.

Gordon Worley                     `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty            said, `it means just what I choose                it to mean--neither more nor less.'
PGP:  0xBBD3B003                                  --Lewis Carroll

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