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This is a question Bullshit and Bullshitters

We've had questions about lies and liars in the past, but this time we're asking about the sort of fantasist who constantly claims they've got a helicopter in the garden or was "second onto the balcony at the Iranian Embassy siege". Tell us about the cobblers you've been told, or the complete lies you've come out with.

Thanks to dozer for the suggestion

(, Thu 13 Jan 2011, 12:55)
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Regarding creationism and religion etc - A thought experiment
A creator does not necessarily have to be supernatural. For instance, the matrix theory of creation.

Currently, artificial intelligence is quite good, and will get better and better as computer models are developed with greater parameters combined with computing power. At some point in the future, AI will reach the point where it is practically indistinguishable from human consciousness.

It can be given that when this happens, and when computing power allows, scientists will create a model of the Earth with billions of examples of human AI going about, working, playing, shagging, fighting wars, getting pissed and photoshopping pretend movie posters for a weekly challenge on a website somewhere. All simulated in a massive computer model of the human existence.

We could be in such a simulation right now. In fact, someone might have typed 'Run' and pressed Enter not 5 minutes ago.

Our perceived intelligence and sense of being may well just be a simplified model of what is actually real running on a computer in a lab somewhere, coded by a group of engineers no more supernatural than Fiona Bruce (corr!).

This theory is no more (dis)provable than the existence of 'God'


(goes puts the kettle on and opens the malted milks)
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:13, 37 replies)
Anyone that understands computability and doesn't believe in a supernatural has a very hard time arguing that this is the real universe.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:19, closed)
It always starts with
10 REM ** Big Earth Simulation **
20 REM ** by **
30 REM ** SLVA **
40 DIM person (6800000000,10)
50 LET person(1) = person(man,chinese,28,bus-driver,married,dullatparties)

etc etc, you get the idea
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:27, closed)
Oh, come on
completely implausible.

Any advanced creator would at least use OO
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:54, closed)
You'd want something streamlined and not clunky
In fact, I was going to suggest Assembly, but I don't know any.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 22:29, closed)
I do know assembly and I still use a high level language for the major AI.

Quark gluon interactions, though, yeah straight down to the metal.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 14:26, closed)

they also have a hard time arguing that it isn't... You can only say 'it's possible/conceivable etc'. A creationist can say the same, albeit we consider their ideas unlikely. And of course, we'd still like to know where the computers that created the simulation came from.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:30, closed)
Well, no
Once you accept that simulating an indistinguishable subset of the universe is a computable task and that a huge amount of accidental computation happens within the universe the numbers start to look convincing.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:45, closed)

starts to look convincing...yes - which is my point.

dont get me wrong - i agree with what you and slva are saying in principle, but i'm adding that you cant overstate your case
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:58, closed)
This is my point.
Although the idea of a 'God' is constantly being nibbled away at by scientific discoveries, it still remains to be ultimately (dis)proved either way by its very nature.

I suspect the computer parts were bought from ebuyer, except for the graphics card, that was from Overclock.co.uk
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:52, closed)

yes, as someone famous one said, the great philosophical questions remain because they are unanswerable.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:59, closed)
...I wish i'd taken the blue pill now.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 19:58, closed)
given that we can't tell if we are in a simulation
then we should act as if we aren't

that's what I don't understand about The Matrix films. The people in the Matrix cannot really tell that they aren't living normally, so why should they care if they are being used as a big battery?

I'd rather stay in a simulation than live on gruel and be chased by evil robots.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 20:03, closed)
this is true
who cares? However, I reckon if we could get everybody on Earth involved in one huge flashmob, I reckon we could crash the system.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 22:35, closed)

mob wank
crash drown
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 11:20, closed)
You had me at being controlled by Fiona Bruce.
I used to fantasise about committing some heinous crimes purely so La Bruce would talk about me in a disgusted tone of voice on Crimewatch.

Then they handed the reins to Kirsty Young.

(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 20:55, closed)
He had me at

Malted milks.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 21:19, closed)
beaten to it again! /shakes fist

(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 21:50, closed)
I didn't realise she was so old.
Anyway, it'd only be if Siobhan Fahey was busy.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 22:38, closed)

Sounds like a load of sixth form level, IT nerd baloney to me.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 21:10, closed)
You are Nick Bostrom, AICMFP
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 22:05, closed)
I am more like his brother Arthur
and I was jest pissing boo when I hod a fanny nose.
(, Tue 18 Jan 2011, 22:32, closed)
I can grasp the idea that what we perceive is a simulation
But what I don't really get is the idea that we're all inside a computer chip. If that were the case, I find it hard to see where individual consciousness would arise from. I would prefer to say that our perception may be entirely simulated - and may well bear utterly no relation to the real universe - but I don't think a pure simulation can be taken seriously even as a thought experiment.

Something along the matrix lines, yes. But not a pure assembly of information. Data can't think.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 0:51, closed)
Emergent Behaviour
Consciousness could arise as an Emergent Behaviour in a complex system. This is a valid hypothesis for both the "muddy rock" and "matrix" scenarios: in the first the system is the brain, in the other it's the software that is simulating us.

"Data can't think" is equivalent to saying that "Meat can't think". It clearly does, though we have very little idea how that gets started, or even what it really means, at the moment.

Actually "Data (or Meat) isn't self-aware" is probably a better statement of the problem, as "think" could be interpreted as meaning "process input into output". And previous generations thought that playing chess required "thinking".

As a software engineer I can tell you that even apparently simple systems can generate extremely unexpected emergent behaviours! Not consciousness, perhaps, though there have been a few bugs which appeared to have a grudge against me...
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 9:49, closed)

That is a very creative theory. But the most likely solution to a problem is often the simplest one. So the probability is higher that we indeed only are advanced worms on a muddy rock in a lonely corner of the universe, with no afterlife or purpose whatsoever.

(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 7:50, closed)
Then there's the other theory
That states that any sufficiently advanced civilization would destroy themselves way before being able to create such a simulation. We're well on the way.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 10:46, closed)
"One night I had a dream that I was a butterfly, and when I awoke
I knew not if I was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly, or butterfly who had dreamed he was a man."

- Zhuangzi -
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 11:27, closed)
The clue is:
which one was it that woke up?

There you go. Next time, try to pay attention.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 13:55, closed)
Brain in a jar hypothesis
In a lecture i once heard, the professor was speaking about that problem. His approach consisted of three steps:
1: My word for a tiger constitutes what is a tiger to me.
2: The word tiger for a computer must mean something different, as else there would be no difference between a real and a simulated tiger.
3: If my language thus is necessarily different from the one the computer uses, i cannot be in a simulation as what the computer understands as a simulation is something different. However, it is possible that i am in an analogous situation to the one described.

(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 13:35, closed)
I reckon that's pure mince
- In 2), the assumption seems to be that *his* tiger is real, and the computer's is simulated. But that's what we're trying to establish, so we can't use that as input.

- In 3), he states that the two languages are necessarily different. But two identical computers would use the same language, and two people could (it might be that real people never do, but there's no theoretical reason why they couldn't. So it's not valid reasoning.)

- Also, even if the languages were different, this does not imply that the concepts are different. If one person is thinking in French, it doesn't affect what they are thinking about.

The guy is clearly a tit.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 14:03, closed)
There are at present some chaps working out whether there is a difference between the observed and calculated values of PI at some pointlessly accurate level.

The implication being that a simulation must necessarily be more granular than reality at some level* so any difference between the simulation and objective reality should be observable in the quantisation of measurable qualities.

*Otherwise more information would be required to run a given volume of simulation than a given volume of base reality, If I understand teh argument correctly
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 14:32, closed)
Source on this?
I'd be fascinated to hear what they're using for 'observed digits of pi', as opposed to calculated. The problem with the universe is that it is granular - the perfectly smooth, dense and compact spaces we do maths on don't really exist.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 18:52, closed)
A mate of mine has an interesting bit of spiel on this
If a simulation of reality exists that is sophisticated and complex enough to contain another simulation of reality, it creates the possibility of infinite recurrence - imagine it like a mandlebrot set.
If such a universe exists (and there's no known reason why it couldn't, not that that's really an argument) the odds of being in the one true universe and not one of the infinite sub-set universes are practically zero.
David Chalmers once used the example of a hyper-intelligent Sim from the Sims game, that was so intelligent it could work out the very algorithms that define his reality - that Sim could never work out the hardware of the PC its reality was run on, let alone the intentions of the Creator.

Probably bullshit.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 14:51, closed)
Just as an aside.
The Matrix failed big time explaining why the simulation existed.
There are four* sources of energy available on this planet -- cutting of solar would mean that humans could only be fed on food created using nuclear, lunar-derived or geothermal energy -- all of which are much more easily and efficiently transformed into electrical potential than if humans were used as a power source.
Heck, they'd even have to feed us Vitamin D to keep us alive for fuck's sake.
If you're one of those that says "...yes but they told us the rules you state..." it still seems stupid to invent the laws of thermodynamics and such which would be needlesly complex.
In conclusion. The Matrix: fun but untimately quasi-intellectual bollocks of dubious consistency.
*edit: I may have missed one but I'll not spend too long thinking about it, as the point still stands.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 18:02, closed)
I heard a theory
Well, if we ever do invent AI, I think Asimov was pretty much spot on with his laws for it. It's reasonable to assume that the robots, or at least their progenitors, in the world of the matrix were programmed to above all cause no harm to human beings, and, where possible, to prevent harm coming to us.

Well, look at us. If you were a robot and you saw what was going on in North Korea or any of the other hundreds of shit places in the world, would you trust us not to blow ourselves into next week? Especially when we, the humans, rejected peace with the robots, the theory states that they just locked us up in huge towers of goo for our own goddamn safety, fulfilling one of the central tenets of their programming. They even tried to give us a fictional paradise to live in first, remember? That doesn't sound like something an enemy would do - they had our best interests at heart.

So, how come they keep on attacking Zion, eh? Well, once you get past the agonizing moral quandrary, you would have to take the view of a certain Mr spock - to a computer, certainly, the needs of the many outway the needs of the few. So, if you had a few thousand hooligans endangering the lives of billions of people you were trying to protect (and if the original assumption holds, that is what the people of Zion were trying to do), well, I reckon I'd probably use any means necessary to stop them.

There's more of course, especially the choosing of the seven men and sixteen women to repopulate Zion after it's destruction, but, it does all work quite nicely if you take this theory to be true. No idea if it's what the Wachowski brothers intended, but I like it.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 18:44, closed)
There's some plausability in what you said.
But The Matrix never bothered to explore the ideas because the writers hadn't a fucking clue what they were writing and just dissapeared up their own arses because they are, essentially, dull morons who think like stoned students at 4AM.
As for the argument against us being in a simulation -- it matters little really and things like religion are still atavistic, dangerous, hateful, inneficient and deluded bollocks.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 19:00, closed)
Natural is what can exist in the known universe. The way I understand it if something created the universe it would by its nature have to be more complex than its creation. That implies to me that it could never occupy the universe we see as natural without introducing its own complexity, either making such a crossing impossible or altering the universe it created.

Super natural is what 'exists' outside the universe we know and understand, thus wouldn't anything 'creating' our universe have to also be super natural?

Before anyone yells at me over the internet I know I'm probably talking nonsense, but that's never stopped me before.
(, Wed 19 Jan 2011, 21:34, closed)
Justin Hawkins' head would spin right off
if he read this.

would the "big bang" theory be the sound made when an engineer whacked the PC tower cos it was on the blink?
(, Thu 20 Jan 2011, 10:48, closed)

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