My post was inspired by Oxford Professor Nick Bostrom’s paper on the possibility that we are living in a computer simulation (which has got much public acclaim). You can go here for the complete paper, but the Abstract is brief enough to reproduce here:
ABSTRACT. 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.
My reaction to Professor Bostrom’s theory predictably (for me) grew in the telling. It got so long that I split it into two parts. Part One follows.
An Open Letter to Professor Nick Bostrom
Regarding your Simulation Hypothesis (SH), my main goal at first was to ask ‘So what?’ – this so I could continue my research into evolutionary biology (my conclusions bear directly on your paper). But, to your credit, it didn’t work: One of my videos (I’ll link to it again later) contains clips of about a dozen astronauts (starting with the Apollo crew) claiming that the sky is dead black once you leave the atmosphere, i.e., from low earth orbit, cislunar space, and from the moon. In other words, the stars are not visible. (‘What’s the use of the Hubble then?’ one might ask. Good question, but a separate one, for now.)
Until reading your paper (and then others) I assumed that the astronauts were simply lying, probably because they either haven’t been in space at all and/or have to maintain the original Apollo lie, Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin claiming they didn’t see any stars from the surface of the moon; regarding cislunar space (in a separate interview) Armstrong says, ‘Space is deep black except the earth, sun and moon.’ I assumed these statements were related to a NASA deception, not the nature of space itself.
(Again, these apparently absurd statements are echoed by many astronauts, as shown in the linked videos.)
One problem with the ‘they’re just lying’ hypothesis is virtually all the videos and imagery from balloons, private rockets, etc., that go above 99% of the atmosphere (over 100k feet) show the sky flat black; ditto almost all NASA space imagery. I tried tweaking the images in Photoshop and still got no indication of stars in the dead black sky. (The view of the heavens – with no atmosphere to scatter light — should be spectacular, like removing a soda bottle from in front of our eyes.) I had to assume these photos were faked, like NASA’s often are — my assumption being that they couldn’t get the star positions exactly right so they tell us stars don’t show in photos.
The fact that we have been subjected to a fair amount of unrealistic/faked space imagery for our whole lives is a ‘doublethink’ problem I assume an intellect of your stature can get past – if, upon viewing my videos, you reject my observations/conclusions, I’d much like to hear your reasoning. For example, how do you explain this as compared to this? (You can wait for the repeated links below to compare them.)
Assuming your critical thinking faculties (‘follow the evidence’), and assuming you haven’t thought about this before, you should be having an epiphany right now – either I have observed real evidence for the SH; or, if not, still, the ‘real’ universe is not what physicists have been telling us. The implications of the star visibility issue are profound, in one direction or another.
Back to your paper: My first major assumption upon contemplation was that the Base Reality Program does not have access to infinite memory/computational power (otherwise, we’d wind up arguing about ‘God,’ Big G, which would be fruitless). Which means that corners were probably cut in the fashioning of our ‘digital’ reality. In your paper you write:
‘The microscopic structure of the inside of the Earth can be safely omitted [in the simulation]. Distant astronomical objects can have highly compressed representations: verisimilitude need extend to the narrow band of properties that we can observe from our planet or solar system spacecraft.’ (my emphasis)
I am merely taking this a small and logical step further – why waste any computational resources by conjuring imagery that is unseen from earth – the biggest corner-cut would be the universe outside the vantage point of ‘possible observers.’ This would mean that ‘views’ through telescopes and other instruments are ‘faked’ (with possible ‘nearby’ exceptions like the moon, sun and maybe the planets, but more to come on this…). I say faked in the sense that the views and instrument readings are ‘customized’ each time a ‘conscious entity’ uses equipment; the views/readings are not properties of ‘the universe out there’ – the universe ‘out there’ of course would not ‘exist,’ certainly not in the way we think it does. (I’m trying to be brief and assume you are ahead of me on these issues.) This would be a big corner-cut; the needed computational power would shrink by orders of magnitude. This would be especially useful if ‘nesting’ (simulated realities [SR] creating their own SRs) is planned for in the Base Program.
To sum up: The reason stars are not visible above our atmosphere is that they don’t exist as physical objects (in the usual sense); they are only ‘detectable’ from the few miles between terra firma and the upper stratosphere. If this seems short-sighted (since we now are able to rise above the atmosphere), I agree, given certain anthropocentric assumptions, which I will deal with later. But for now one answer to the ‘short-sightedness’ problem is that the Programmer wanted us to understand the nature of our reality, and knew that we would uncover it (or that certain of us would) once we developed the technology to leave the planet. This possibility is strongly re-enforced below, in ‘Another Line of Evidence.’ What it implies is that the Programmer is very interested in our behavior and is not adverse to ‘playing games’ with us.
In this video (also linked to above) the NASA scientist on the left is an astronaut and he is claiming that the view of the stars from low earth orbit is spectacular (he is one of the few to make this claim). If we assume that he is telling the truth, and if we likewise assume that all the astronauts that claim a starless space-view are telling the truth, we here have an obvious ‘glitch’ in The Program. In other words, if stars are visible to some humans and not visible to others, we have strong evidence for SH.
Given other evidence of NASA deceits, however, it seems more likely that someone is lying (or under mind control), which brings us back to the imagery-evidence. Although a small percentage of space-view imagery (from various sources, such as Japan and the ESA) does show stars, the vast majority (including from sources that would seem to be genuine, like amateur ballooners) does not. For the reasons given, this would seem to be evidence for SH.
ANOTHER LINE OF EVIDENCE
My other piece of evidence (for SH) is in a book I read recently (right after experiencing totality in the recent solar eclipse); it’s called Who Built the Moon?, by Christopher Knight and Alan Butler. It’s possible that someone has referenced it to you since it proves beyond reasonable doubt that there is a ‘higher level of intelligence’ (of some sort) out there, either in or separate from our known universe.
But in case you are unfamiliar with the book, I’ll sum up its main argument: As you know, it’s a monumental coincidence that the moon is exactly the apparent size of the sun, making total eclipses like the one I saw possible – the moon being 400 times smaller in diameter yet 400 times closer to us than the sun.
An added coincidence is the number itself, 400. A ‘round’ integer in base 10 arithmetic. What are the odds? Not only that but the ‘canon’ of the number ‘400’ is on its own significant: 400 is the number of kilometers the moon turns on its axis each day… 400 is the number of times the earth turns faster than the moon…40,000 is the number of Megalithic Yards in one Megalithic second of arc of the sun… 40,000 is also the number of kilometers the earth turns on its axis each day… (I know: Units of measurement are, in theory, arbitrary, i.e., human conventions. Maybe not, though, since both the Megalithic Yard and the metric system are related to – and probably based upon — the circumference and the mass of the earth, which brings up interesting questions about our ancestors, all dealt with in the book (more on this below my signature). Another reason ‘400’ is significant: the meter was geodetically defined as one forty-millionth (1/40,000,000th) of the earth’s polar circumference.
Do you believe that all these ‘400’-related numbers are coincidences? If not, then by definition you believe in some kind of ‘higher intelligence/power’ — which is one necessary condition for SH to be true. This is not logically arguable. (As I will state again later, these (non)-‘coincidences’ are unrelated to the ‘fine tuning’ problem physicists argue over.)
You are likely aware of the utter necessity for higher life to exist on earth that the moon represents (no moon, no us!). And the unlikeliness the moon’s physical existence has been long argued by the scientific community. In fact, you may know that the moon’s existence is so unlikely that artificiality is not a new theory. What’s different now is that we have the robust, if not inarguable, evidence.
So, again, the moon has to be where it is and its approximate present size for its function of making life possible. Now, taking an anthropomorphic view, and assuming that the earth-sun-moon arrangement was purposeful (the sun is also ‘numerically’ connected), can you not picture yourself wanting to ‘take credit’ for your accomplishments? Plus might you not harbor curiosity as to the reactions of your creations (we conscious entities) to the certain knowledge of your existence?
For me – and given my research into biological evolution’s ‘impossible coincidences’ – what all this equals is that the nature of the ‘intelligent designer’ (for lack of a less baggage-laden term) may not be so far afield from that of humans after all. This has been the nature of my biggest epiphany since my investigation on HTWRW began in earnest about a decade ago, and which (in my gut) culminated during the recent eclipse totality – it was as if Someone was yelling, ‘Look, you jerk!’. (You have to experience totality to understand what I mean; partial eclipses don’t have the same effect.)
It is also possible that the blatant ‘clues’ to a higher power’s influence on life’s existence on earth amounts to an implied threat, or the inference that a ‘debt’ is owed. One need only look back at the canon of human mythology/religion for corroboration of this possibility.
(Here are just a few of the numbers involving the sun: 109.2 is the size ratio of the earth to the sun; 109.2 is also the number of earth diameters across the sun; and 10,920 is the size of the moon in kilometers. 27.322 are the sidereal days for one lunar orbit; 27.322 is also the percentage size, earth to moon. As you can see, there is no physics-related reason whatsoever that these numbers should match (they do not match ‘by necessity’). Anyone who would believe this is all coincidence is not a ‘philosopher’ in any true, ‘follow the evidence,’ sense of the word. If it’s not coincidence, then ‘intelligence’ is at work. But more than intelligence, there is ‘interest,’ in us, our ‘progress,’ and our behavior. ‘Curiosity’ would certainly fit with SH, since we should assume that the Simulators share at least some intellectual properties with us. Another way to put it: Without curiosity about us, why run a simulation?)
One more example. Is the number 366 important, cosmologically? Sure it is. It’s the number of earth rotations in one solar year. But so what? Well, in relative size the earth is also 366 per cent larger than the moon. This, too, is an ‘unnecessary’ match. Also, take the number 100, divide it by 366 and you get… 27.322. Look familiar? It’s the number of sidereal days (rotation of the earth re the fixed stars) for one lunar orbit (see above)! Holy shit! As a capper: for every 10,000 days on earth, the moon makes 366 orbits around us! Does ‘coincidence’ cause these ‘landings’ on round base 10 numbers?
There is nothing ‘cosmic’ about base 10. But the perfection only works in it! How did ‘they’ know we’d use it? How did they know we’d use the metric system and Megalithic Yards? These questions might be all be answered by SH. Why ‘they’ want us to know that they exist is a question of a different sort, dealt with later.
In a different paper you argue the issue of whether the rise of ‘intelligence’ is ‘hard’ or ‘non-hard’ (the degree of ‘rareness’) in our universe. Although I have more to say on the subject, it should be obvious that the artificiality of the sun/moon/earth arrangement offers a partial resolution to this dilemma. Regarding Fermi’s Paradox (why haven’t we detected other advanced civilizations, if the universe is ‘teeming with life’?), you write:
‘…it follows that there exists a “Great Filter”. 1 The Great Filter can be thought of as a probability barrier. It consists of exist one of more highly improbable evolutionary transitions or steps whose occurrence is required in order for an Earth‐like planet to produce an intelligent civilization of a type that would be visible to us with our current observation technology. You start with billions and billions of potential germination points for life, and you end up with a sum total of zero extraterrestrial civilizations that we can observe. The Great Filter must therefore be powerful enough— which is to say, the critical steps must be improbable enough—that even with many billions rolls of the dice, one ends up with nothing: no aliens, no spacecraft, no signals, at least none that we can detect in our neck of the woods.’
Can you see how your observations relate to the sun/moon/earth message written in the numbers? Perhaps we ‘had help’ for the very reason you imply: without outside fiddling, we would not exist. Surely, if we had to have had this help in reaching our advanced state of biology/technology, the assumption that intelligent life ‘naturally’ and ‘easily’ develops needs a complete rethinking. In fact, the list of ‘assumptions’ and ‘givens’ of science and philosophy that will now need complete rethinking is… quite long…
Add this sun-moon-earth relationship to the multitude of ‘fine tuning’ issues physicists have been fooling themselves over for the past century… but I’ll delve into this in my ‘P.S.’. (The numerical issues Butler and Knight point out are not explicable via the various Anthropic Principles rationalizations we are bombarded with by mainstream physicists, i.e., the various ‘multiverse’ hypotheses.)
But, again, from your point of view, the myriad ‘coincidences,’ plus the star visibility issue amount to strong evidence of a higher intelligence, which, again, is a necessary (though not suffient) condition for SH to be true. Please, if I’m wrong on this, I’m all ears on the reasoning.
I do have more to say but will put them below my signature. This so you will be less likely to throw up your hands and say ‘Too much stuff!’ and not respond to this missive. So: the rest of this email may be ignored if you so choose. I do hope for a response to my ‘star visibility’ observations, since as far as I know no one else has connected it to the SH.
First, epiphanies notwithstanding, I predict that in a few days (if not sooner) you will have forgotten about this email and my observations, via the sort of denial Orwell called ‘doublethink.’ Please don’t be offended. We don’t know each other; I say this from personal experience with those in academia. People in your position are not ‘allowed’ to point out certain facts, notwithstanding their obviousness and staggering implications. If you were to bring up the star visibility subject, say, in a TED talk (which would be instantly TED-deleted), you would have to deal with lying astronauts and faked photos — no matter what, the lying and faking are inarguable; my videos are proof of that, via the mutually exclusive claims. This might cause career problems.
That the last two sentences in the above paragraph are inarguably true actually has nested within it profound implications regarding the over all subject of artificial intelligence (AI), in the sense of how a Super AI (SAI) would handle the ‘cognitive dissonance’ that would result from a complete analysis of the information on the Internet – which is getting close to being all of human knowledge.
An obvious example: According to ‘history,’ on 9/11/01 two skyscrapers were damaged near the top only, yet both disintegrated completely, violating the laws of Newtonian physics. In other words, you can’t have both physics and ‘history’ (which says that the only damage done to the WTC was via airplane strikes near the top of the WTCs); they are mutually exclusive regarding the events of that day.
In most humans, this sort cognitive dissonance is handled with little to-do: Orwell kicks in and life (plus careers) goes on. Problem is, I doubt that a Super AI (SAI) would react this way, unless specifically programmed to forgo critical thinking under ‘certain circumstances’…
But I’m getting far ahead of myself. More on the subject of AI ‘doublethink’ in Part Two. For now let’s stay with the SH, your Simulation Hypothesis…
Here is my video proving that NASA astronauts have been lying about… possibly the nature of space itself (some links are also above).
Although the above should do it, here are a few more proofs of NASA’s prevarications.
Here is the astronaut claiming that stars are visible from space (also above):
Here’s Neil deGrasse Tyson saying what we all should assume, i.e., that stars are visible from space, even when the sun is in view:
Felix Baumgarten’s ‘jump’ from over 120k feet, showing the flat black sky:
In this NASA ‘dark sky’ video (the Hubble repair); skip to about 19:24 in for a clear view of the dead black, starless sky:
For more evidence for SH see my previous blog post on biological evolution, which may be summed up thusly: The Neo-Darwinian notion of a random mechanism’s central role in evolution is statistically impossible; the numbers are so gargantuan that ‘literally impossible’ is warranted. (Again, unless you want to accept a plethora of billions-to-one coincidences.) How evolution relates to SH is summed up in this excerpt:
‘It’s worth repeating that research into biological evolution reveals that it is statistically impossible (not just unlikely) that life and macro-evolution are a result of a ‘random’ mechanism, as (Neo)-Darwinism insists. (See the work of Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Michael Behe et al, plus my aforementioned blog post.) Like the numerical matches above, if ‘coincidence’ (randomness) is not at work, a higher intelligence of some kind as ‘mechanism’ is the likely alternative. It’s quite surprising that in none of your papers or talks do you mention ‘intelligent design (re bio-evolution),’ since the I.D.ers’ evidence against randomness is inarguable, at least in the sense of probability theory, upon which you put much philosophical stock. I really hope you don’t ignore the work of these scientists on some a priori or ad hominem basis, i.e., ‘They are creationists!’ or some such nonsense.
Here’s an excerpt from Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell:
‘If one also factors in the probability of attaining proper bonding and optical isomers, the probability of constructing a rather short, functional protein at random becomes so small (1 chance in 10^125) as to approach the point at which appeals to chance become absurd even given the “probabilistic resources” of our multi-billion-year-old universe. Consider further that equally severe probabilistic difficulties attend the random assembly of functional DNA. Moreover, a minimally complex cell requires not one, but roughly one hundred complex proteins (and many other biomolecular components such as DNA and RNA) all functioning in close coordination. For this reason, quantitative assessments of cellular complexity have simply reinforced an opinion that has prevailed since the mid-1960s within origin-of-life biology: chance is not an adequate explanation for the origin of biological complexity and specificity.’ (my emphasis)
‘Have you ever seen a mutation simultaneously affecting two separate components of the body and producing structures that fit one another precisely? … have you ever beheld three, four or five simultaneous mutations with matching structures producing coordinating effects? … These are vital questions that demand an answer. There is no way of getting around them, or evading the issue. Every biologist who wants to know the truth must answer them, or be considered a sectarian and not a scientist. In science there is no “cause” to be defended, only truth to be discovered. How many chance occurrences would it take to build this extraordinary creature [or organ, such as the eye?] [Myrmelion formicarius]’?
Although the science/logic of ‘Intelligent Design’ advocates (the Discovery Institute, etc.) is as robust as that of Butler & Knight (the numbers), I’ve never been a big fan of the implications the I.D.ers bring with them, i.e., mainstream religion. Hence until recently I limited myself to the realization that Darwin et al. are wrong as to mechanism. That the universe is ‘pre-set’ to produce life, intelligent life (like us), was as far as I would go. The idea of a ‘Designer’ did not make it into my worldview.
Now it most certainly does.
Addendum (for my subscribers): The real significance of this post is how evidence from completely different disciplines (astronomy/cosmology and biology) will strongly re-enforce each other. It really looks like something/someone is keeping an eye on us! Holy shit! (If you want to ‘Believe in God,’ go ahead, knock yourself out. I no longer can say there is no evidence.)
Stay tuned for Part Two of An Open Letter to Nick Bostrom, in which I examine Artificial Intelligence from a different perspective.
Thanks to those who have written asking if I’m all right. It’s now more than three years on the road and all’s well.