Atheism vs. Agnosticism

If you identify yourself as a non-believer, possibly with some history of hostility towards organized religions, would you call yourself an Atheist, or an Agnostic?

I can’t care less about labels and names. But since they have a practical use – saving time and energy – we can discuss them.

* * *

Once upon a time nefore the chemical outbrake of puberty introduced a wave of changes in my body, it impacted my mind. I rebelled – still quite analyctically – against the delusions of the local culture, which let to tossing out religions amonst some other outdated codes. I turned in to a non-believe and I called it atheism three years later when I learned that I am not only alone, but there may be even a conventional name for the state of my belief system. And it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized agnosticism is a better term to describe this state.

Typically the naive distinction between atheism and agnosticism is tested with whether or not one would answer “No”, or “I don’t know” to the question of existence of *any* God. This is in the grey zone, and a metter of definition and interpretation: How do we define God?

Some believe in Gods because in the hierarchy of beings in the vast universe and possibly beyond, there can be creatures above us. Aliens, Gods, simulators, our own Gaia or some parts of it, concious super-organisms that we may can be their building blocks, etc. All these can have God-like powers over us, by shaping and controlling us. But is that all it takes to be a God?

The problem here is that all these beings, even if proven and spotted, are things just like us. They have weaknesses and struggles for their own survival, and simply put they aren’t “in charge”. They don’t have control. A God that knows how everything at every level unfolds, comes from a much motr strict definition of God and that is a level of God-ness that I am a non-believer in. This is a very generic definition for a God, one who has made everything, knows it all, and can control all existence at all its levels. But to me its existance still as unlikely as exotic concept such as Allah, Jesus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Atheists – including my past self – typically view agnostics as mild atheists. Atheists that have woken up but not quite enough to completely get over their religion, and they may be statistically right. But to me agnosticism isn’t compromised atheism. It’s an ultimate state disbelief. So an agnostic refuses religion, but also atheism itself as a replacement that could be vulnerable to the flaws and biases of any other man-made culture. And this was the point that I had not understood in the spiritual beliefs of not-quite-atheist thinkers like Spinoza, Darwin or Einstein.

So agnosticism that I refer to is more of a non-believer than atheism. And as there are infinitely many ways to define God, there can be infinitely many levels in between agnoticism and atheism. The atheist culture, perhaps in order to unify better against the organized religions, wants these two classes and all in between them to collapse in one. But in my eyes they are quite distinct, and I think there are a lot of interesting belief systems also in between them.

I may be going through another phase of chemical changes but currently I feel like I am somewhere in that in-between space.

Explosions between Camberian and Technological Singularity?

Economy of scale and life’s ponctuated equilibrium:

Life on earth is going through another short period of rapid morphological changes, this time because of us humans: In a short geological moment we have gone through a massive scale-up (7 orders of magnitude from tribes of hundreds, to billions on the Internet or members or the global economy). That we all know.

Phase transitions are common place in single species – known as ponctuated equillibrium and are spotted based on local evidences at hand such as fossil records. But terrestial life as a whole experiences such phase transitional behaviors too, although they aren’t always as easy to spot in our labs.

Last time we think a scale-up like this happened was the so-called Camberian explosion half a billion years ago: The rapid shift in life forms from single-cell organisms to complex animals with advanced specialized systems and organs. This was when nature evolved new networks and gave life emergant properties such as intelligence or purpose.

And well in between these two explosions, there may have been other economies of scale transcending single units to complex wholes, though we may not as easily manage to identify them. I am for instance quite open to the spiritual idea that views rainforest as an intelligent whole, with a form of wisdom and the ability to reason, possessing foresight and purpose and other emergent properties invisible to our senses and ungraspable by our brains.

We require more advanced tools to discover those realms, but rest assured there exists much more than we have seen; Communicating with the intelligence that takes place at much bigger or smaller scales, or much slower or faster pace isn’t the most trivial thing we have evolved to do. Neither we have made our tools specifically for this. But I think we already have made tools that we can begin to utilize for this particular purpose. And I am hopeful and optimist, that science has the ability to eventually explore those realms.

Subjectivity,an emergent property?

What can be even more puzzling is the question of conciousness, subjective experience and sentience. Are they too, some emergent properties of complex networks? This is a whole new discussion:

Can networks emerge not only intelligence, planning and reasoning – as stated before, I am convinced they do – but also create joy and suffering out of nothing?

And what are the ethical implications of all these?

We don’t know if cells have sentience. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they do have something like we do. Why exactly can we have that and they could not?

And now let’s for a moment assume they have a sense of sentience. The ethical question is then: Was that explosion a fun thing for them, or was it a disastrous regretable mistake to ride the economy of scale and shape animals instead of competing alone for survival. Did they sacrifice their individual freedom for specializion in order to serve the survival of a bigger whole? More far-fetched, is a kidney cell *happier* than a lonely floater with shorter life span and less guaranteed levels of safety, but possibly higher degrees of freedom?

Relativity of morals is ethics 101, and good for something is bad for seomthing else. So I am not trying to quantify and sum up all the good and evil in the universe to solve a Karmic optimization problem here. This is difficult enough to ask. Could singles be happier on their own, or as a part of a bigger whole?

And if it doesn’t make sense to you to ask such a question about microbes, just wonder the same thing about us. It’s hard to conceptualize things we haven’t evolve to percieve but our transition from tribes of apes to specialized memebers of powerful gigantic institutions that decide our faith more than us is a phenomenon that we tend to ignore. And such super-organisms, whatever you can think of them from physical campuses of multinational corporations, institutions and governments, to less visible codes of AI all across the Internet competing for their own survival, may only be in their early forms. Their real game may have not even started yet!

Point being, all the signs of technological singularity fits in the context of evolution.

Ethical considerations:

Back to the ethical questions: whether this is all good or bad and should we help or stop it? Relativity of ethics aside, there are two levels of moralities I can think of:

– One is what we are used to in our conventional ethics; A sense of good or bad at the human level or familiar issues in its proximity such as animal welfare: Are we as individuals losing our freedom to serve the dictatorship of new giant monsters? Are we going to suffer more and for long dark periods as humans? Could we humans catch ourselves in a blink of an an eye (a giant eye!) in miserable conditions as animals are experiencing in our industrial farms, simply because unavoidable forces of nature are leading us there? Or will we find a more sustainable and less cruel way of expanding the network of life and transcend this with less pain and suffering, explotaition and war?

– The other ethical discussion is a more Karmic sense of good vs evil: The ultimate survival of life. Whether or not we humans will be happy or miserable in any given futuristic scenario, is our technology eventually going to protect life on earth from external cosmic hazards and possibly even expand it beyond earth? Or will it kill it off completely. Some say our species may actually have a purpose and this is it.

In this context if our civilization explosion instead implodes to kill all life, before our reaching its multiplanetary ambitions, then that can be viewed as a failed gamble by mother nature.

Will humans make it to, and survive the technological singularity?

And then there is this third scenario in between. The most likely I would say. Our species will die a mild extinction before taking over stars, but also before completely destroying the life forever and ever. Both seem much more difficult than simply going extinct.

What will happen in that scenario? Probably plants will come back with new wisdom – resistance to nano-biological hazards, radioactive, plastic and what not. Then they make new things that will move around and will send them again on the mission to pollinate other stars for another thousands of unsuccessful trials, up until a massive asteroid finishes us off, this time completely.

Now seriously, does mother nature have ways to set goals and make plans, invest in a species to become technologically advanced enough to protect its mother? Hey let’s make some humans to protect and expand the life although they may kill it all. And in taking such gambles does she even further possess mechanisms for sensing and evaluating the risks involved?

I think she does. Apparently in one instance right here and now.

If this post evolved as a part of nature, then nature does have ways to try assessing the risk of its gambles. All technologists and scientists who push our civilization forward, and yet inform and warn us about existential threats that come along the horizon are the manifestation of such a risk assessment. And they come from the nature. So why should we think of them as an isolated phenomenon? How do we know nature hasn’t manifested things like this previously? All we see is the qualities of its current wave of emergent intelligence.

Hopefully it’s not the last wave, and I really doubt if it is the first one. Unlikely!

Ethernal AI dictatorship

Elon Musk is right.

And humans are already slaves of some self-organized technological super-intelligence, made of flesh and sillicon. It’s just many of them out there fighting over us as resrources and the evolutionary battle hasn’t been settled just yet.

So let me reflect on these doomsdays scenarios:

I think we tend to undermine the algorithmic nature of the world, and so the wide variety of scopes and the vast magnitudes of scales that the so-called *evolution* can rule, beyond biology.

It’s an old story. Trees made us to be their polinating agents and we cut them down. We made AI and it will enslave us.

So he is right. But this doomsday scenario isn’t like a Terminator story.

A ‘god-like’ AI is a true threat. But it doesn’t need to be a robot, a super computer, or a conventional AI.

These god-like creatures have algorithmic nature, similar to AI. So let’s talk about that instead.

First of all, algorithms don’t run in a methaphysical space sperated from our world. Algorithms need *stuff* to run on; They need flesh and sillicon. Also they were not invented by humans with the digital computers. They have been around for a long long time.

The truth is, we are already slaves of self-organized algorithmic beings higher than ourselves. The technological end legal entities that interact with each other and the machinery of our civilization for example. These super organisms beyond any individual’s power have evolved an order and dictate what we should do. They rule us, own us, embed and encompass us; We are like cells in their bodies.

What are exactly these algorithmic super-organisms? Very difficult to pin point.

If we can spot and name them, we would still view them as vague concepts entangled with each other like a spaghetti, rather than detached phsyical objects. I don’t think from our perspective we can define these super-organisms as separate entities like the conventional organisms that we know, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Perhaps we can, with our limited understandings, identify some of them that are somewhat immediately built by us: organizations, nation-states, political parties or corporates. But there is much more complexity that goes above our heads when we include all the algorithmic functionalities within and in between them.

It is really these entities who make wars, invent alphabet, or send objects to Mars, not our individual leaders, inventors or visionaries. They have habits and patterns like our personality traits, and one may say we made science as an endeaver to understand those patterns and traits.

These algorithmic gods and masters are beyond our understanding as we are beyond our cells. We are just a small part of them. And they are intelligent too. More than us or less, is difficult to tell. They are operating at different scales and deal with different problems for the survival of their code. Are we more intelligent than our cells? What about the cancerous ones? If so how one of them can kill us?

I think we already are slaves of some god-like beings that are in their infancies and are co-evolving with us. And it shouldn’t be surprising if their greed for domination and survival as their emergent property, tend to accelerate out of our control and if we find ourselves captured in a deterministic ordered that we built together, while there is no way out.

We have experienced this situation before. With the idols, commandments, money, cities and legal systems we have previously made codes that became stronger than us. These codes are already our masters, exhibiting recognizable patterns taking us to wars and situations beyond the decisions of any CEO, king or emperror.

And I think of AI threat along the same lines, only on steroid. AI is scary because it runs on increasingly faster platforms and can accelarate since it may gain the power to make itself acceleratingly smarter.

When it comes to what matters to us, things like freedom of humanity, what we call AI and is warned about can co-evolve to make the grip of such evolving super-organisms much tighter. It can give them more efficiency to execute their codes against the competition and help them minimize their cost-functions more aggressively to optimize their goal, money, growth, profit, order, whatever it might be.

While nature is at its own game, the bad news for us may that our current welfare and freedom can last for only a short moment in the history. That the priviledged position of the enlightened modern man may be just a temporary behavior of one of these algorithmic entities going through a phase transition.

So these fuzzy pilosophical especulations aside, I think what makes AI dangerous is something like this:

* * *

Technology has transformed us. As our individual survival depends more and more on the interaction with technology, we are gaining some freedom while losing some. Our functions are changing rapidly.

We are already not free to think with our own individual brains. Are we? The dominant codes, wide-spread systems and algorithms are dictating how we should think. What questions should be asked and what options are out there. How we should model the world, how we should think how to live. Call these forces the society, economy, media, culture; They have rules and systems and we get our thinking patterns from them. The most successful of them have evolved to copy themselves like programs in our heads and they are ruling us already.

We see now that smartphones controlled from small brain-like power hubs and control panels in the tech giants already control the masses. But they even control the CEOs of the those giants in some way. You see when these powerful individuals seem to be in full control, how suddenly desperate they become in the face of unforeseen challenges?

This is just one decade of smartphones taking over our lives. Soon enough we will even have chips in our brains and implants will replace screens and touchpads. So it would be much easier to control us, and voluntarily even.

Environmentally, almost all wild animals who did not follow the new order are gone already and only us the tamed ones are left. Some of us domesticated animals will be the the pigs locked up in the slaughter house. Some would be workers trapped somewhere else to provide electricity to those facilities. Some of us would be more free programming the machinery, some are following someone elses’ orders, who gets order from another one, who is somewhat voted by us through the propaganda that is fed to us by . No one’s really free already.

Who wrote all these code? No body as far as we know. We all together did it and it evolved with us. And it’s there now anyway. AI can only make us voluntarily head to make such a destiny much faster. Because it potentially knows us way better than we do ourselves.

We can’t even say if this scenario is good or bad. It just is. I think there’s no right or wrong at this scale.

Good or bad, I think a kidney cell can never go back to float freely in the wild precamberian oceans of the earth like its ancestors did. Not after it evolved to enjoy the economy of scale and its existence dependent to interact with the rest of the nody.

We may be heading to uncertain futures like this that find ourselves increasingly *locked up*, if not physically but algorithmically, to run functions that deals with our very survival. It sounds deterministic and sad. But we are heading that way already. I think AI could only make it faster and could come up with new creatures that would blow our current minds.

There is one thing for sure. What we are experiencing now is anything but a state of equilibrium, so we are heading to something pecular. We humans as the catalyzers of this process may try to stir it so the established future order wouldn’t be upleasant for our species. Although I doubt if we can manage.

Electrified Bees

If you are an electrified bee amongst all other bees in the hive, how far can you go off-the-grid and still survive?

– What if you think electrified bees produce bad honey?
– What if you have a dream of making honey, but not from sugar fed to you under fluorescent light. But from wild flowers and in the sunlight?
– What if there is this rule dictated in the hive that going off-the-grid is a sin. So if you do it, most bees would think of you as a lazy bee who doesn’t want to make its fair share of honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not honey?
– What if you come to believe that the honey you make is really not yours?
– What if you think the hive has a systematic leakage? And most of what you all make goes wasted?
– What if you come to understand that no one is responsible in this situation more than you. That the queen bee is in it together with all the rest?
– What if you think the hive is in a free fall off a tree, or rolling down from a hill, and sooner or later will hit the river?

Should you, if you can, get a little far from the craze if not completely off-the-grid, and still survive?
Or would you starve on the way to the flower garden?

Dildosphere

1. The end of bio-diversity: Perhaps a while before but certainly after the agricultural revolution, we humans as one of the many species dominated the earth and killed off or domesticated all the other species. We redefined the earth’s gene pool according to our own genetic code. A hundred thousand years ago it would be impossible to guess which of these animals [who populated the earth and if any] would eventually get out of balance and dominate the earth like we did. It turned out to be us who killed the planet’s bio-diversity and instead created a cultural diversity based around our own species.

2. The end of cultural diversity: The cultural diversity did not last long either and after the industrial revolution one of these many cultural codes killed the rest or tamed them to dominate the civilization. Industrial capitalism eradicated all the other cultures and life styles, or largely made them adapt to become yet another implementation of consumerist culture. A thousand years ago it would be difficult to guess what kind of cultural code will dominate the earth, but consumer capitalism turned out to kill the rest of the cultural pluralism and instead created a diversity of consumer goods and products.

3. The end of product diversity: Will the product diversity of today last for ever? Now it’s very difficult to guess what branch of these product groups will eradicate all the other goods to take over the scene in decades to come. But we can always speculate and my blind guess is dildo!

My prediction for the faith of the humanity is that we will swim in an ecosystem of dildos and AIs who serve them, and any other product you see today around yourself will seize to exist, or will be taken out of its traditional “wild” usage – including eggplants and joysticks – and shall serve the amazingly diversified dildosphere from pole to pole! 🕹🐛🌂🍼🏑🍆

Now should we not be pro-active, to preserve the pluralism of our beloved dildosphere? Share if you agree that shafts are shafts, no matter their color, frequency, size or curvature!

PS. Mankind’s pecularity is divergent. It has no limit! Colonies of ants or bees do their usual same thing no matter how large they get, but we humans in large groups are capable of showing anything absurd. Any weird act that is conceivable, a bunch of us will happen to do someday somewhere! If other animals look at us, they would probably think this human thing is the strangest experiment Earth has ever done. Hope she doesn’t regret the gamble!

Still we ourselves are being the reason to dreduce such a beautiful diversity to one single-branded world-wide uniform?

You matter!

This made me confess that, honestly, it’s been a while since I accepted (or forced myself to believe) that – just like you – I am being watched.

Not only by some unknown pairs of eyes sitting at NSA envying Snowden for his courage, but also by my grand children – already! – having fun in an extrapolated virtual reality of my life in data-archeological musuems of the future (if my boring practices interests any of them at all).

That’s why I find myself at ease assuming that we are at different simulations at the same time. The human park owner of the future, the alien simulator, God and the big brother are all staring at you.

This at least shows that you matter to someone.

Culture is a glue

Here are listed a few quick notes, reminders and personal opinions about “culture” in its widest definition in evolutionary terms:

1. Culture is the most “human” factor:
Every group of folks who gather around something (a figure, an object or a set of values) tend to create culture. It’s the most definitive single element that separate us from other animals. True that we are language-speaking animals, thinking mammals or tool-making apes, but all of these stem from our cultural abilities.

2. Culture evolves randomly:
Cultural equilibrium is shaped when cultural memes are transmitted long enough, among the members of a rather closed population, through social interaction and cooperation. Much of these memes are either random “mutations” at origin, or randomly fluctuate while being faultily copied by other individuals.

3. Culture is a glue:
Culture is important to us humans because it – in any of its forms – has been the glue that helped us scale up from tribes of hundreds not so long ago, to populations of up to hundreds of millions today. These present-day groups of people can be identified by races and ethnicities, religions and cults, geographies, occupation or social classes, political parties, etc. but they are actually functional clusters that can cooperate in-group while survive in their embedding ecology. All these “super-organisms” have their own type of cultural glues, codes and mechanisms that bound them together to cooperate with each other within the same system and sustain their equilibrium.

4. Culture has phase transitions:
According to history this equilibrium collapses eventually and gives rise to bigger and stronger populations, rather suddenly than slowly. There are leaps and usually they end up finding a way to include even bigger populations, than previously possible.

5. Culture is relative:
Another thing about culture is that it is relative. It’s made-up. It doesn’t matter what components have made this glue as long as it can act as a glue. And this is why culture gets old. A glue that could connect hundreds (a stone or a tree) fails to gather thousands efficiently; they need language and law. And a local set of rules can’t unite a population of a size of a country. They need technology. Our today’s religions, political divides and classes have played their important role to unite populations previously but have failed to scale-up to take us to the next level: To include us all.

6. Culture has synergy:
Every culture has emergent properties beyond the mind-set of its individuals and even beyond the original values that created it at the first place. People wrongfully assume their individual tendencies (inclusion, care, good intentions) is also acted out by them collectively. It is not correct. A group of nice and kind-hearted people can act as savages collectively. In fact that is what’s happening all across the geographical and political landscape right now .

7. Culture is greedy:
One of the emergent properties of culture is that it is greedy. Every culture seeks for dominance. It is inevitable as memes and genes – information in general – tend to copy and only those who manage to propagate and adapt best will survive.

8. We need a global culture:
To survive… Well, not necessarily a moon-size tree or a super massive stone that all ten billion in 2050 would subscribe to [just like their tribal ancestors]. But a system of global governance approved by all humans, something that can operate on our still physiologically tribal brains but can also make the next big scale-up to a planetary-level, also without blowing us up altogether. And this global culture needs to be at least minimally recognized by all humanity, and thus pragmatically needs to have empathy for all of us. It is hard but we need to admit that the current global cultures are not efficient enough for this inevitable stage. That “world new order” has got to be more efficient – and inclusive – than Abrahamic religions, our unsustainable consumerist capitalism, or that oppressive communism cult. Their incompatible perspectives have come to clash with each other and so their era has passed just like that of the stone idols, holy trees and commandments. We need to transcend them too to cooperate in a global level. We are not there yet but really, not so far from it either.

9. “Culture is not our friend”:
It’s just a glue! At the end of the day, being embedded in a tribe, country, a global monetary economy, or a trillion size AI society around a Dyson Sphere, we are individuals. We are as different as we are similar. And we have always been that way. We should be cultures of one that operates safely within a bigger, much bigger, community. How will this embedding global culture will eventually look like? Will it shape before our extinction, or will it remain an idea? Yet to be seen. We don’t know and can’t predict how things evolve beyond the parts that we currently observe. But one thing is for sure. It needs to include all humanity – pragmatically. I can’t imagine any of the underdog groups of present-day, be poor countries, minority groups, worker class, etc. would tolerate to be totally supressed, undermined in the long-run or excluded from the game. It’s just impractical because they are all powerful enough to retaliate and give a hard time to the forces that seek to dominate them. All the billions have to either be enslaved [somehow], eradicated completely, or be bought into it. We are merging in, we need to make it as least painful as possible.

The Matrix

I very rarely watch movies or series; only about a handful of times during the past decade. As an ex- movie geek I lost this modern-day habit a decade ago, and it never came back.

Last month I finally watched the movie Matrix! I was surprised by the similarity of some of its scenes to my recurring dreams about simulated reality that I had prior to watching the movie, or any other similar motion picture for that matter.

My time of having dreams about simulations, precede watching Matrix and Avatar, as well as the newer series Black Mirror. During those couple of months, I was steering my lucid dreams to fantasize about the possibility of us all being inside some form of simulation. Every other night there was a new story cast behind my eyelids. I wrote down and posted some of them.

I got super excited about these visuals, and I communicated them passionately to the world. Little did I know that people had already masterfully depicted such fantasies in blockbuster movies. The dream imagery, that I appreciated and presented as novel, might have felt like old news to you.

Was everyone out there aware of this movie genre of simulated reality, except for me, the one person most expressly obsessed about it?

* * *

Anyhow, the similarity between my fantasies and some of those movies’ visual effects is strange. Why would such images be triggered in someone who hasn’t seen them before?

Consider particularly these three landscapes:

1. The consciousness warehouse (The dark room): There was this claustrophobic scene in some of those movies/episodes where all those “consciousness units” despite their differences were stacked up very efficiently as similar items in a “dark room”. This was behind the scene of existence, the kernel of reality and any other colorful happy realization of that was just an illusion experienced by those identical larvas that in reality live in a claustrophobic tight space like a lab, warehouse or a graveyard.

I hadn’t seen a scenery quite like this before, but the dark room occurred to me in several different forms; I experienced humans once as separate folders in the physical drive of a simulation server, another time as lots of tiny hardware modules burried under the surface of another planet after we had destroyed ours. Once again as information-like replicas in a “grid” of a library, and also as dormant larvas aligned next to each other like a graveyards. Think of those teleportation helmets in the Matrix or the transfer booths in Avatar. All these nightmares occured as disturbing and depressive recognition of the nature of true reality until I woke up and double-checked my body, making sure that I am made of real “meat” in the physical space.

2. Augmented objects with aliasing artifact: There was also this other visual effect in the augmented scences in Black Mirror where a simulated object was overlaid on the base reality, but with a slightly different resolution/texture. That also occured to me quite a few times in dreams (and reality!). Like this fantasy that people around me could be actually not in the scene but instead augmented objects overlaid on it; however so seamlessly that I had never noticed any aliasing artifacts in the border of their silhouette until a “glitch in the matrix” accidentally revealed them to me.

3. Object impermanence: The world goes as much as the observer goes. This crazy experimental possibility has a huge potentials to release wild imagination and was handed to me a couple of times in my dreams. Think of each object that you see and then there’s something behind it and let it surprise you in a stream of events that diverge faster than any other technique in dreaming!

On the extreme opposite of the object impermanence lies the object permanence in the mind, that is also a crazy realization. In a couple of breath-taking realizations I had the idea that the barriers around us are not opaque objects that stop the light from things “behind” them to reach us as observers. We are aware of the whole universe around us, but walls, surfaces and physical barriers overwrite our local observations and temporarily delete those further objects from our memory. As if we have full sight to the end of the universe and a sanctioning effect is additionally in place to give us an illusion of separation. That, could be hacked in my dreams, giving the observer ability to remove visual barriers wall after wall.

* * *

The fact that I intuited these landcapes before watching them gives them a universality beyond my dream journals and beyond their Hollywood representation.

Chances are that these images are triggered independently but by a common cause.

1. The dark room scenery can be sparked by the ordinary experience of some day-to-day man-made phenomena. An ordinary dictionary in a sense is a dark room for words, if each of them has an ocean of meaning. The same goes for books stored in a large library or our lost humans burried under a real-wrold graveyard.

2. Any experience with VR and AR can trigger this; The visual artifacts of the augmented objects, the aliasing effect on their borders or the pixelation on their surface.

3. The sceneries with hacked object impermanence may also be triggered by any experience in programming for CAD graphics. Having a history of placing objects in different layers of front or behind each other with respect to an observer, etc. Those real-life experiences could also be some hidden signals that had come back haunting me in dreams, though this time putting myself on the stage of the simulation.

Apart from these real-life experiences that can inspire our dreams to a Matrix level fantasy, what else can be in the play? That is my main question here.

Is there a deeper universality to those experiences that we tap in to subconciously every now and then as dreams, hallucinations or the work of art? Are there some visual archetypes in the collective mind of the mankind that extract those landscapes out of a common intuitive treasure? Like some neurological explanation that lies behind some common experiences such as out of the body or near-death experience. Say some brain circuitry creates similar funny illusions and trigger same visual effects in independent cases.

An alternative to all these explanations is pure coincidence, unless…

Unless we live in the matrix and we can tap in to its kernel every now and then!

* * *

Interesting similarities anyway! Please next time my dreams resembled a movie, do me a favor and mention the title in the comments!

All have a good day in the simulation.

Value-Fact Distinction?

There is this thing called “value-fact distinction”; it points out to the difference between “what is” and “what ought to be” (in Persian: «باید و نباید» vs. «هست و نیست»).

* * *

1. As a child I was not aware of this distinction. I think it is quite natural (a default setting) to experience the reality based on emotions and values and judge the world based on how it benefits us, as opposed to objective investigation out of mere curiousity.

That is, morality is – wrongfully and as a default mindset – assumed to be as objective as rationality.

* * *

2. As I grew up I started to spot relativity in our ethics and morals. I was convinced that factual statements are objective and can be evaulated as true or false, but ethical statements are subjective and right vs wrong is a matter of taste or perspective.

True/False and Right/Wrong duality may “feel” alike, and we apply both to our decision-makings in life. But we should not mix them while investigating the world: If we set out to inspect the objective reality, we should stick to the facts staying away from the subjectivity of ethics. Mistaking right or wrong for true or false is a trap.

Or facts are objective; values are not.

* * *

3. The weird thing is that the distinction between facts and values is fading again for me. They are coming together like when I was a child, but this time in a different way.

I ask what if facts and values are both a matter of perspective, in a fundamental way. That both rationality and morality are subjective?

Kids may know some things better, prior to their culturally biased upbringing.

Sporadic on the simulated reality

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Simulated reality

Elon Musk amongst others brings some meta-statistical argument to show that we are more likely to be in a simulation than not; that we are most definitely not flesh, but words made flesh.

I don’t know how we can take someone’s word seriously, whose self is just an avatar in a simulation. That someone want to colonize Mars merely does not give more validity to their words, especially when they’re themselves made of words!

So what he is popularizing is given credit to the philosophers Nick Bostrom (2003) and Hans Moravec (1998) earlier. And I have found modern instances as old as Alan Watts (1972) expressing the same argument (here as the first fantasy out of three).

Transcending yourself, your simulators and theirs!

Whoever said it first, what matters is who did it first!

Saying that our bodies are not hardware and is instead of the sort of information/software is probably an unfalsifiable claim. It is like placing an object next to its meta level of existence and yet comparing them as two similar things. It is paradoxical like Russel’s antinomy that deals with a type of whether a set can be a member of itself or not. And in my opinion is as valid as saint Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological argument to prove God, brought a thousand years ago.

But well, if we are in a simulation and we can one day prove it, then we have understood things about those who programmed us. So why not continuing to extrapolate the transcendental cascade to know things about those who programmed them? And may be even hinting our simulators that they may be in a simulation too, and in what kind of simulation even.

Maybe that’s why they simulated us…

How to find out? With a simulation may be. Like program something that could tell us what’s going on beyond us and here’s the catch: beyond our creators and also their simulator!

A cascade of interventionist Gods

Now a deeper philosophical question is not whether we are in a simulation. As it can be interpreted differently based upon the definition of the God/simulator and is an unfalsifiable claim, a matter of faith. The more interesting question is, assuming that we are in a form of a simulation, is our creator an interventionist e onor not! i.e. Whether we are in a supervised simulation that changes sometimes based on how we act (are there miracles?), or alternatively we are just given a bunch of rigid rules and then left alone to compute.

Which itself boils down to whether our simulators are supervised by their intervening God or not.

If our creators are interventionist, how about their Gods? An interventionist God may be beyond us and so appear to us as having free will but for those who made that creature, itself could only be a type of abandoned code left to go down its own path. That cascade logically never ends.

Simulation depth

Opening this discussion, there can be follow-up questions:

What kind of simulation are we in? What are its boundaries and limits compared to our regular manmade type of simulations? Are we in a familiar type of simulation; say a huge multithreaded discrete finite algorithm? Or could it be fundamentally more complex than our currently familiar notion of algorithmic computation, a simulating program?

If we are role playing in a discrete and finite type of computation, then a full history of space-time can be given in a humangous binary file or technically a large integer on the tape of a Turing machine. And then we are some chunks of information on it; enumerable combination of finite symbols rendered locally or globally frame by frame, discretely in time (basic notions known in complexity of computation).

And in that scenario, will that universal machine even differs if a tree falls in a forest but no one is around to hear it? Will there be a sound calculated when there’s no ear? Or is it more likely (and efficient) for that simulation to go only as far as the observer goes?