Paper Doll World, Controlled From Some Guy’s Couch

I read the same Times article Scott did this morning and was going to write the following spoof. I sort of feel bad now posting this because it might seem that I'm mocking Scott instead of the intended target. Not bad enough to keep me from posting this, however. Besides I'm sort of with Marvin Minsky on this thanks to Constant.

I found this statement from the Times article laughable:

In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation.

Here's how I read parts of the article.

"Dr. Nostrom assumes that technological advances could produce paper crafts in the future that simulate entire worlds. The advanced papercrafts of these advanced humans or "posthumans" could run "ancestor simulations" by creating paper worlds inhabited by paper dolls with fully paper craft virtual nervous systems.

If civilization survived long enough to reach that stage, and if the posthumans were to make lots of paper simulations for research purposes or entertainment, then the number of paper doll ancestors they created would be vastly greater than the number of real ancestors. There would be no way for any of these ancestors to know for sure whether they were virtual or real, because The paper dolls can't tell they are just simulations. But since there would be so many more virtual paper doll ancestors, any individual could figure that the odds made it nearly certain that he or she was living in a paper doll world. The math and the logic are inexorable once you assume that lots of paper cutout simulations are being built."

See, isn't it so obvious this is right. Given these quite reasonable assumptions I think it's a mathematical certainty. It also explains why the World Trade Center went down so easy. ;)

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