Re: Simulation Argument

From: Aleksei Riikonen (
Date: Sun May 21 2006 - 07:34:31 MDT

On 5/21/06, Edward Miller <> wrote:
> The Simulation Argument is a rather intriguing argument made by Nick
> Bostrom. It states that:
> "At least one of the following propositions is true:
> (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a
> "posthuman" stage;
> (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant
> number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
> (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
> It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will
> one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we
> are currently living in a simulation."
> (
> --------------------------------------------------
> I had heard this argument awhile back and, at first, thought there was a
> good deal of sense in it. Now I am looking at it from a more skeptical
> viewpoint. It seems like the basic premise is a common logical fallacy: a
> false dichotomy, or trichotomy in this case.
> First and foremost, it seems to focus too much on humans. It is very likely
> that there are countless intelligent species, assuming the Drake equation is
> accurate. It is also likely that among those species, some would be very
> strange. So strange in-fact that one cannot make statements about the
> likelihood of what posthuman/post-ET civilizations would be like. Statement
> #2 reaks of a Modernist perspective that there is just one course that
> progress takes. Why does he lump all advanced civilizations into one group?

It seems you haven't noticed that Bostrom arrived at this
trichotomy-of-sorts (he doesn't present it as a real trichotomy, in
the sense of the three options being mutually exclusive) simply by
using mathematical logic. He is not assuming that all posthuman
civilizations progress in a similar fashion; the mathematics of the
situation simply show, that option (2) being true is one of the
possibilities, in which case there must be strong convergence in the
ways in which advanced civilizations develop.

You should consult the section "IV. THE CORE OF THE SIMULATION
ARGUMENT" in his paper, which contains the mathematics you seem to
have missed.

> Additionally, the conclusion drawn from the first three can be proven false
> using basic symbolic logic.

Actually you are mistaken here as well.

> Both x and y can be true simultaneously, as shown above, yet his conclusion
> states "x unless y."

Saying "X unless Y" does not mean one is claiming that both can't be
true. One is just saying "if not Y, then X (if Y, then whatever can be
true with regard to X)".

Aleksei Riikonen -

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