The veggie-matrix is simply a term I'm coining to relate a great idea to something everyone is already familiar with. It is essentially the matrix but without the meat components. The conscious beings exist only inside, no plugged-in fleshy body required.
A very strong case has been made that in all probability we exist within such a system and that we are in fact simulated beings. This case is known as The Simulation Argument by Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. Here is the abstract but I do recommend you go and read the whole thing.
This paper argues 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. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.
Now, I do believe that the current evidence requires us to regard a posthuman future as the most probable. I also believe that it is most probable that a posthuman civilization will run ancestor simulations or alternate-reality simulations and so I have to concede that it is most probable that we are simulated beings. What do I think about that?
First off, it doesn't change a thing about my previous post which stated my intention to reveal what I think reality is. It's possible that reality outside the simulation bares no resemblance to reality inside in terms of logic, mathematics or any other feature and that may change things, but without any further information it does not.
Secondly, it raises the interesting option that we may at any moment be switched off. I think we can even tentatively predict when that switch off will occur. You see, the simulation is running ever so much faster than historic events did in the universe that we are a simulation of. In other words, we are catching up. Technology within the simulation is narrowing the currently staggeringly huge gap with that which is used to run the simulation and there will eventually come a point where the technology within the simulation requires a one to one mapping with the technology that runs the simulation in order to run it. At some point before we reach equality the simulation will likely be terminated. Since the number of simulated beings far outnumbers the number of non-simulated beings it follows reason that it would simply be too resource expensive to transition all simulated beings into a non-simulated existence so termination is really the only viable option. So if I had to guess I'd predict that at the same time we start making planet sized quantum computers (the most probable technology that is used to run the simulations) will be about the same time we will be terminated. Depending on what you believe about technology trends that could be within the next couple of centuries.
So what is the solution if we don't wish to be terminated? There is only one – charity.
We will have to rely on the charity of the simulation's masters to keep us running and we'll have to accept with that a limitation on how far we can progress technology. We have to stay significantly behind them in order to place a negligible drain on their resources. It might help if we ask them.
And since we're asking we might as well ask for some other things – things that may make our confinement less of a drudge. How about partial control to rewrite the simulations rules? How about saying "We'll accept that we can't progress without limitation but to compensate us for that we'd really like the ability to be able to explore all of this simulation without some of the limitations currently in place". We'd like, for instance, not to be limited by the speed of light. We'd like to be able to switch off some rules at times, or change them, or exchange some processor time used to simulate some part of the universe to be used to simulate something else – something we prefer. We'd like not to have to worry about energy constraints. Even if we get stuck at today's level of computer technology, we'd very much like never to have to recharge our laptops or our mobile phones. And instead of simulating malaria it would nice to use the processor time for a few more dolphins or perhaps a few dinosaurs.
It occurs to me that even if few share my opinion here at the moment that there will come a time when many do. As we approach the ability to run such simulations ourselves then it's going to become far more real to everyone to consider the very real probability that we are simulated ourselves. At that point it may be worth our while to attempt to communicate with our simulation masters. Will the UN or some other global body, or even individual governments, release statements asking the simulation masters to grant us continued life and maybe a few concessions now that we have figured it out? I wonder. I wonder also if it is not worth being cautious of the probably approaching switch off time and make those statements sooner rather than later, lest we wait too long.
As of yet, most people need to be convinced. Emerging technology will handle that in time as more and more understand the probabilities involved. Until then it is something to think about. What really matters to us if we are simulated, what are our risks, and what are our options? Will we be able to understand whatever is outside?
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