are we in a simulation?

From: John Collins <>
Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2003 00:31:46 +0100

     The argument that many-worlds theory implies that we are 'almost certainly' in a computer simulation has been put forward by many people, and there are many similarly themed arguments used to suggest that many-worlds theory is 'obviously not true'; most of these arguments contain well hidden logical inconsistencies which involve switching back and forth between many-world and single world ideas. This leads to a rather strange way of counting the different possible 'classical universes' that we might be part of. The sleight of hand (or honest mistake) used in these arguments lies in the seemingly innocent assumption that a powerful god-like being who builds a simulation of our universe must then be the cause of our existence. This would be true in a single classical universe, but it is not true in many-worlds theory, where we should use a definition of 'causing' or 'implying' involving a correlation between different classical universes, ie. that [god-like being does not simulate us] =>(almost always) [we do not exist]. This is discussed in David Deutsch's 'The Fabric of Reality', where he gives the example that no butterflies cause hurricanes by flapping their wings (unless you put one in a human built 'hurricane mahine' with a touch sensitive keyboard)..
   How we should correctly 'count the universes' in which we live is by starting with what we know exists: Ourselves, the planet Earth, evidence of our ancestry, the surrounding galaxies, etc. and looking at what we can 'append' to this universe: We could have some universes where there is everything we know exists, plus super-intelligient beings who behave as though they are controlling us, but for each of these, one would expect many more universes containing everything we know exists, plus some generic random distribution of (generally non-living) matter, such as some rocks or a cloud.
Received on Fri Jun 06 2003 - 19:25:36 PDT

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