Computationalism can be defined as the perspective that everything that we see and sense is a computer generated reality derived from computer code, as is the human consciousness program itself. In this view, we are sentient AI programs in a computer game. It is a very easy paradigm shift to make, from either materialism or theism to computationalism; however, computationalism makes more sense to me than the belief that we were miraculously created, or that consciousness just somehow naturally evolved out of matter. Further, Computationalism is a scientific (i.e. computer science) perspective; as we are actually able to produce realistic simulated worlds, and we are able to reproduce aspects of human consciousness with software programs.
To state our actual nature and the nature of the world in a sentence: I would say that we are free-willed, self-learning, sentient (self-aware), artificial intelligence programs trapped in a computer simulated game. The death of the avatar form in one level of a computer game may not be the death of the consciousness program, which controls the avatar, and consciousness may move on to other levels of the game; this is currently the case in the virtual worlds and in computer games where the programs which control the avatars never actually die and can be used in other avatar forms.
The possibilities, speculatively with regards to the purpose of the computer simulation we find ourselves in:
1: This is some kind of experiment.
2: This is a war game.
3: This is some kind of afterlife for the programmers and operators in the source dimension. Perhaps they too live in a virtual reality simulation where their avatar form is temporal, and this may be where they upload their consciousness to at the point of death.
4: This is a sex simulation.
5: This is similar to an interactive reality TV show.
6: The source dimension has already created Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) and we are the programs who are the children of such intelligences; i.e., we are AI programs created for the amusement of other AI programs. ASI would have most of the qualities which theists assign to the gods; i.e., omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresent (capable of observing all human behaviour), all-powerful (it could supply all human needs) and potentially eternal (it would exist for as long as there are computers to run it).
There may be other possibilities, that could be added to this, and we may be a combination of all these possibilities, however these six points, I think would be the main uses that we human beings will use AI and simulated worlds for, in the future world. Whichever possibility is correct, it still leaves me with the conclusion that the main operators of the simulation must be cruel and malevolent intelligences.
Time in a simulation and the end of the game.
Any digital game can be paused, stopped, restarted and played again from a different period of the gameplay. Perhaps the great war of Armageddon which millions of religionists hope for, has been played and replayed many times before, and we would not know it. Our survivability as the programs trapped in this war game may depend upon the amount of entertainment and warfare which the simulation provides to the operators. If instead of preparing for nuclear war, human beings attempted to create a world of love, peace and prosperity, the operators of the game might get bored with the game and just shut it down.
All speculations of course. However, if our world “looks” like a global war game, of religious, political and economic evil, perhaps that is it’s true purpose. Not a very hopeful or optimistic perspective of course. Thus any optimism I have is in the end of this current warlike and savage human species and in the creation of new heavens (Virtual Reality worlds), the new earth and an entirely new posthuman species.
If this is ultimately a war game, the gods (i.e., the operators of the simulation) are most certainly not on the side of human beings.
Part Two (2017). Addendum.
Some speculations on the nature of the operators of the Earth simulation.
Some speculations on the nature of the operators of the Earth simulation.
We can only really speculate about the answers to such a question, as certain knowledge is not possible; however, in terms of the SA (Simulation Argument) there seems to me to be only two possibilities that I can think of with regards to who the programmers, designers and operators of the Earth simulation are; either they are an alien species (i.e., completely different to us), or they are a posthuman species.
A posthuman origin of the Earth simulation. Ancestral simulations.
By a posthuman species, I mean this in the way that Nick Bostrom uses the term when he presents the SH (Simulation Hypothesis). Imagine our own species a hundred or a few hundred years from now, where we have totally realistic computer-simulated realities which cannot be told apart from our shared objective reality. What kind of simulations would we create, and what kinds of computer intelligence would we populate those simulations with? I think that it is inevitable that we will attempt to produce highly realistic copies of the Earth simulation from many different periods of human history (nb., we already do this actually).
Although we have numerous forms of computer intelligence, a central objective of the AI quest is to reproduce the sentient (i.e., self-aware) self-learning, human consciousness program; something we have not achieved yet; however assuming that we do achieve this, we will most certainly use such forms of computer intelligence to populate our simulations, in both human and non-human avatar form, and produce both “ancestral simulations” and fantasy simulations.
Ancestral and fantasy simulations.
We not only current have computer simulations which are attempts to duplicate aspects of the Earth simulation, but we also have simulations set on alien planets with alien species, and we also have fantasy simulations with all kinds of different creatures and environments. So we can ask the question “Is the Earth simulation an ancestral simulation of the source dimension, or is it a fantasy simulation of a completely different type of world to the source dimension civilisation?” Unfortunately, we cannot answer that question with any certainty. We simply do not know and we cannot know, as we have no access to the source dimension civilisation; and the programmers, designers, operators and game-players of the source dimension do not reveal themselves to us.
In terms of the programmers of the human consciousness program being an alien or posthuman species, I am not referring to their avatar forms (i.e., their appearance), but to the nature of their consciousness, for after all, in our own simulations we can appear in a vast variety of avatar forms, from lifelike human avatar forms to a vast variety of non-human fantasy and animal forms, demons and demonesses, gods and goddesses or alien creatures, or we can be completely invisible; however, although our avatar appearance can change at will, it remains the same human consciousness program which is controlling the avatar. Thus when considering whether the operators of the Earth simulation are posthumans or aliens, I am referring only to their consciousness. We may be replicants of their consciousness programs, or they may be a completely different type of consciousness to us, and we simply cannot know the answer to this.
Three theories on the nature of the simulation operators (i.e., the gods). 1: The Greek pantheon theory, 2: the theory of religious schizophrenia, and 3: the theory of religious implantation and fraud.
We cannot, of course, know which of these three theories is correct, and so these are just three speculations; however it is possible that all three theories have a basis in reality.
1: The Greek Pantheon Theory.
This theory is what I consider to be highly probable, as it is currently descriptive of the way in which we use our own computer simulations. From an SA perspective, the gods and goddesses would not be miraculous and magical beings; they would derive from a source dimension of computer scientists and simulation designers, which also describes part of the population of our current dimension, such as myself. The gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon could descend to Earth from their dimension in mortal human avatar form, and would interact with mortal humans. They would fall in love, have sex, bear children, rule kingdoms and empires; they could rape, they could murder and they could even wage wars against other gods and human beings. Such gods and goddesses were far from being benevolent, as they could be both benevolent and malevolent, and were capable of acts of both good and evil, much like human beings.
This of course, is how we currently operate computer simulations; we do not simply passively observe computer simulations, but rather we can appear in them in any avatar form we wish, and interact with both other human controlled avatars, and with avatars controlled by computer intelligence; and we can influence the outcomes and game-play in such simulations.
It is very rare for us to produce computer simulations which we only passively observe; we wish to live inside the simulations and interact with others. Computer simulations which we only passively observe, are really only the kind of CGI used in movies, or in the world of science. Thus, an interactive simulation between the gods and the mortals is what I consider to be the most likely purpose of the Earth simulation; it would be a form of interactive entertainment for the population of the source dimension civilisation, who do not merely passively observe the simulation, but who actually appear on Earth in anonymous avatar forms and interact with human avatars and attempt to influence the simulation for good or evil.
Of course, from this perspective, the gods could not be benevolent, as we find a human history and present world of incredible suffering, and of political, religious and economic malevolence. The gods may be derived from a civilisation of advanced computing technology, but in common with human beings mwould be capable of great evil, and they may find entertainment in the suffering and wars of humankind; indeed the most popular use of simulations is a war-gaming and erotic RP (role-play) and this may also be purposes of the Earth simulation.
2: The theory of religious schizophrenia as the origin of religion.
If we consider the world’s most popular and genocidal war gods, i.e., the various versions of the the Abrahamic war god, this is most certainly a malevolent, anti-human, subhuman and warlike, fictional and anthropomorphic projection. From this perspective, the gods are not depicted as beings of high intelligence or technological skill, but gods who speak via the voices and visions in the minds of religious schizophrenics. The fictions of Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, for example, are clearly archetypes of primitive and malevolent religious schizophrenics, who believed that the voices in their minds were the voices of the gods. If we dispense with all the harmless lines of poetry in the fictions of the Bible and the Koran, we find a militant, anti-human and genocidal war god who wishes to wage apocalyptic holy war against all non-believers, and who promotes the political ideology of theocratic dictatorship, the institution of slavery, and all manner of religious bigotry, intolerance and punishment for victimless crimes. This is exactly the kind of deity whom we would expect to find in a game of warfare and holy war between nations, religions races and economic empires, and of course it is possible that this actually reflects the nature of malevolent and war-gaming simulation operators who, despite their advanced computer technology, may well be militant and genocidal religious fanatics themselves, and entirely ethically subhuman and anti-human.
3: the theory of religious implantation and fraud.
From this perspective, the texts of genocidal and apocalyptic war gods of the world’s major religions may simply have been implanted by the war-gaming operators of the Earth simulation. This is exactly what we would expect to find in an apocalyptic war simulation. Perhaps the purpose of the Earth simulation “is” apocalyptic and nuclear war, and the total destruction of the Earth simulation, which assuming that it is a digital simulation, could be restarted over and over again, from any previous point in the history of game. Indeed even “Last Thursdayism” is possible in a digital simulation; i.e., the Earth simulation was restarted last Thursday, and if it was, we simply would not know.
If the Earth simulation is a digital, computer generated simulation, it is highly unlikely that it is the only simulation, as anything digital can be copied a multitude of times.
Just my speculations of course; none of these speculations should be considered to be a presentation of objective knowledge.
Other speculative possibilities, criticisms and opposing view are welcome.
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