Entries Tagged as 'Physics & Philosophy'

Many-worlds Immortality and the Simulation Argument

An alternative to the simulation argument:

Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument argues that at least one of the following must be true:

  • the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage
  • any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history
  • or we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation

However, I see other possibilities. Assumptions:

  • The strong many-worlds theory is correct (i.e. all consistent mathematical systems exist as universes, a.k.a “everything exists”)
  • The many-worlds immortality theory is correct (i.e. for every conscious state there is at least one smooth continuation of that state in the many-worlds)

Given these assumptions, it doesn’t matter if we are in a simulation because our conscious state exists in many simulations and many non-simulated worlds that look identical to us (but are different in imperceptible ways). Even if all the simulations stopped, there would still be a continuation of our conscious state in a non-simulated world consistent with our observations to date.

Further, it seems that there are more non-simulated worlds than simulated worlds. This is because there are many ways a mathematical model can exist so that it cannot be formulated in a finite way, and therefore not simulatable by an intelligent entity. It might even be that simulatable world are of measure zero in the many-worlds.

Further out ideas:

A fascinating related idea is the Egan Jump as described in the book Permutation City. The idea is to jump to another world in the many-worlds by simulating the genesis of a new universe. In this universe you code yourself into the initial conditions, and design the rules so that you end up as an upload in the substrate of the new universe. Because that universe will continue as it’s own mathematical model, your conscious state will continue in that universe, branching off your original self.

Yet another, more distantly related idea is that the peculiarities of our universe (quantum physics, large amounts of empty space) are in a sense an error correcting mechanism. Because any perturbation of a world is also a world, the result is quite chaotic and inhospitable to meaningful life. The structure we see around us with large aggregates “average out” the chaos. This leads to a stable environment as required for conscious observers to arise.

Nano-Ethics and Spirituality

Dr. Donald Bruce, writes an article titled Faster, Higher, Stronger in the first issues of Nano Now. In response, Chris Phoenix takes issue with Dr. Bruce’s perceived ethical fallacies.

I think one of the major deficiencies in Dr. Bruce’s article is the false dichotomy between material improvement and spiritual improvement.  Living longer, better, with more access to information and in richer personal networks allows one to spend more effort and be supported on the path to spiritual growth.  For example, one may speculate, that a novice yoga practitioner who’s body has been suitably enhanced (e.g. through biofeedback or by being more limber) will be aided on their path.

Another false dichotomy is criticizing the initial cost of a technology and limited adoption. Computers were very expensive at first. However, if we didn’t develop them because of the limited initial availability, we would not reach the current inclusive situation.

One may also speculate that the discomfort some Christian believers experience with their bodies may indispose them to mind/body synergistic growth.  Buddhists, on the other hand, may be more amenable to technologically enhanced mind/body improvement.

More “everything exists” links


Computable universes

Looks like there are some people working on the “all quantized universes exist” angle:

Jürgen Schmidhuber’s Computable Universes page.

A final theory and the Omniverse

I just read “The Cosmic Landscape” by Leonard Susskind. Susskind believes that the small magnitude of the cosmological constant (119 zero digits after the decimal) compared to a randomly generated constant (which is likely to be close to to unity) leads to a multiple universe explanation. The actual choice of universe in which we live is constrained (and enabled) by the Anthropic Principle (AP). We exist in a habitable universe (where the constant is within a range consistent with life). Other universes exist in the Multiverse where things are not fine tuned, but nobody is there to notice.

Susskind further makes a distinction between the Landscape (set of possible universes) and Multiverse (set of actual universes). Universes can actually be born from other ones through quantum fluctuations and it seems that Susskind thinks that only those Universes born from others are “real”.

However, that seems arbitrary. What is the reason that only some of the universes in the Landscape exist, assuming they are all consistent? There is no “prime motive”, so no set of universes is preferred over any other set. Just because a Universe can arise from another, doesn’t seem to give its existence additional justification. For example, assume Universe A can give rise to B and C. Then on the other hand we have D that can give rise to E and F. If we say B exists (is in the multiverse) and E does not (in the Landscape but not in the Multiverse), what is the reason for that?

Additionally, Susskind speaks of the Landscape as being created by varying parameters of String Theory. The question here is what are the limits? All theories can be embelished or modified with additional rules and constructs. Different Landscapes can be created. Why choose one Landscape over another?

I would like to propose an extension to these ideas. Here is what I propose:

  • The Landscape includes all self-consistent mathematical constructs (the Omniverse)
  • The Multiverse and Landscape are identical

Some corollaries:

  • Every self-consistent mathematical construct exists as an independent universe
  • We exist in such a universe (but we have to find out which one)
  • Every perturbation of a self-consistent mathematical construct also exists

Note that a mathematical construct is not just what humans can conceive of – it’s the class of all possible ones.

Some speculations:

  • Quantum mechanics has a random nature at small scales because every perturbation exists
  • Our particular universe is a machine that is good at hiding the perturbations. In particular, at the macroscopic level the perturbations are smoothed out. This is another application of the AP – life could not exist in a fatally chaotic and/or unpredictable universe.
  • The Universe is quantized and finite in all dimensions and magnitudes (although unboundedness may be okay). Otherwise we get into the measure problem.

I found a few other mentions of similar ideas. The canonical references seems to be Max Tegmark:


I believe a couple of additional features apply that I haven’t seen in other people’s theories: 1. randomness is a given at the bottom, because all perturbation exist, and universe must smooth it out 2. the measure problem means that the universe must be quantized and finite.