RE: Simulation Argument

From: mike99 (
Date: Sun May 21 2006 - 09:25:30 MDT

The Simulation Argument can be regarded as a stimulating thought experiment.
However, Nick Bostrom did not claim to have proven that we are living in a
simulation. He merely used mathematical logic to demonstrate the probability
that this is so.

In a semi-private email communication* Bostrom was asked whether he really
believed that we are living in a simulation. Bostrom wrote:

>The simulation argument does not claim that we are probably in a
>simulation. It only makes the case for a disjunction of three claims, one
>of which is the simulation hypothesis.
>For the record, I do not believe we are in a simulation. When I say there's
>a "significant probability", I don't mean greater than 50%. (If I had to
>pick a number, my personal view - not implied by the simulation argument -
>might be something like 20%.)

*[Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies Board of Directors email
archive message:
RE: [IEET] Article - Engineering Transcendence. Sun 11/7/2004 11:05 PM]

Michael LaTorra

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Aleksei
> Riikonen
> Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 7:35 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Simulation Argument
> 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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