computer simulation

Nick Bostrom has proposed a more radical solution for such inconsistencies: our universe is a sophisticated computer simulation, a kind of virtual reality programmed by a civilization incomparably more developed than ours. The program is so perfect that it makes it possible for us, as simulated beings, to experience emotions and the illusion of freedom. From time to time, however, there are glitches in the system, the system violates its own rules (or, perhaps, applies “cheat-codes”), and we experience the effects as “miracles” or UFOs. This version basically reads as a secularized theological scenario, with the difference that our creator is not a supernatural being but just another, much more developed, natural species. So, if we kow (or presume) that our universe is “simulated,” has been willfully created by higher beings, how then can we discern their traces and/or read their motives? Do they want us to remain totally immersed in the simulated environment? If yes, is this because they are testing us, epistemologically or ethically? Were we created for fun, as a work of art, as part of a scientific experiment, or for some other reason? (Recall many novels and flms, from Heinlein’s Strange Profession of Jonathan Hoag to The Truman Show, The Thirteenth Floor, and The Matrix.) Can we imagine living in a simulated world without a creator’s intention? What this solution does is transpose the gap between our phenomenal universe and its noumenal Beyond into that universe itself, redoubling it into two universes: our phenomenal universe is virtualized, reduced to a simulation by agents operating in another, much more developed, “true” universe. The next logical step is to multiply the phenomenal universes themselves, without invoking a quasi-divine privileged universe. … The next logical step after that is to transpose this multiplicity into a temporal succession within the same universe. … Finally, there is the Stephen Hawking hypothesis of “irrational time” (in the sense of irrational numbers), which dispenses with the very notion of the Big Bang: the curvature of time means that, like space, time has no limit, although it is finite (curved into itself). … Do not these five versions form a complete series of possible variations? Are we not dealing here with a systematic series of hypotheses like the set of the relations between the One and the Being deployed and analyzed by Plato in the second part of his Parmenides’ Perhaps contemporary cosmology needs such a “Hegelian conceptual systematization of the underlying matrix that generates the multitude of actually existing theories. Does this take us back to the ancient Oriental wisdom according to which all things are just ephemeral fragments which emerge out of the primordial Void and will inevitably return back to it? Not at all: the key difference is that, in the case of Oriental wisdom, the primordial Void stands for eternal peace, which serves as the neutral abyss or ground of the struggle between the opposite poles, while from the Hegelian standpoint, the Void names the extreme tension, antagonism, or impossibility which generates the multiplicity of determinate entities. There is multiplicity because the One is in itself barred, out-of-joint with regard to itself This brings us on to another consequence of this weird ontology of the thwarted (or barred) One: the two aspects of a parallax gap (wave and particle, say) are never symmetrical, for the primordial gap is between (curtailed) something and nothing, and the complementarity between the two aspects of the gap function so that we have first the gap between nothing (void) and something, and only then, in a (logically) second time, a second “something” that fills in the Void, so that we get a parallax gap between two somethings.

Less Than Nothing, page 927

Truman show ending:



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