Can a god be bored?
Point 1: We can make computers that do more than one thing at a time (parallel process or multitask). God is omnipotent. Therefore, God can multitask.
Point 2: We get the most happiness by overcoming challenges. When we don’t have any, or when those we have are being particularly difficult to overcome, we invent some (games, sports, etc.) In these invented challenges we typically submit to rules which limit what we can do to achieve the goal.
Putting these two points together, when we, as gods, get bored, why won’t we use our ability to multitask to use a part of our consciousness to continue working (bringing to pass the immortality and eternal lives of our own spirit children) while using another part of our consciousness to overcome an invented challenge?
I imagine myself reliving particularly enjoyable experiences. Further, I imagine that I will restrict the access that part of my consciousness I assign to reliving the experience has to my memory so that as I relive the experience it will seem to me that I am not reliving it but experiencing it for the first time. Imagine experiencing your first date, your wedding day, the birth of a child, over again, as many times as you wish, but not merely as a memory but as if it were happening for the first time.
What about that game winning shot you made? That overtime goal? The day your business started to make a profit? That painting you finished? The book you wrote? We’ve all had so many experiences where we had that irreplaceable sense of accomplishment for having successfully overcome a significant challenge. Reliving them but as if for the first time could relieve an eternity’s worth of boredom.
What about tweaking those memories a bit to improve them? What if you missed that last second shot and lost the game? This time you make it. With part of your mind you simulate what the rest of your life would have been like had you made that shot while another part of your consciousness experiences that newly simulated life, or as much of it as you wished, as if it were real. (And why wouldn’t it seem just as real as your real life? And if it seems just as real, why wouldn’t it actually be just as real?)
Modern video games let you assume the role of a basketball star playing through an entire season or even an entire career. Couldn’t a god simulate the same thing only in perfect full immersion virtual reality down to the most exquisite detail? And if you enjoyed basketball in this life, and were now a god, and could multitask so you could do your work while simulating a basketball career, why wouldn’t you? The only reason not to would be because you had something even more enjoyable to do.
So, if reliving, as if for the first time, your most joyful experiences, or creating new joyful experiences for yourself and experiencing those, always as if for the first time, is the least fun you can have as a god, while concurrently being able to share this delightful mode of being with your spirit children, I conclude:
Conclusion 1: Gods don’t get bored.
Conclusion 2: Maybe you are already a god and this is exactly what you’re doing right now, in which case, you may be in for a very, very exciting day!
The Reality of Our Simulated Reality
“Everything is “real” if you experience it. And a simulated universe is as real as the universe that simulates it because reality is defined by the information it represents — no matter where it’s physically stored.” So says Maxim Roubintchik in “We Might Live in a Virtual Universe — But It Doesn’t Really Matter“, and I agree. It is unfortunate that people tend to dismiss the simulation hypothesis upon first encounter because they fail to grasp that it doesn’t in any way diminish the reality of what is being referred to as a simulation. And it’s not really their fault because there is usually so much to get your head around that this conclusion is inevitability left until fairly late in the discussion. But by then many have already established their bias against the proposition. Once that happens most are not open minded enough to reconsider their antagonism. Oh well, there’s still the rest of us.
Roubintchik makes the case well and so there’s no need for me to go on about it. I just wanted to heartily endorse his conclusion and add that it matters. It matters. Reality is real whether it can be thought of as simulated or not. But that it is likely simulated does have implications for many fascinating questions. One of them is the Fermi Paradox, which is very thoroughly explained in this article by Tim Urban. Aaron Frank, in “Is Virtual Reality the Surprising Solution to the Fermi Paradox?” offers the simulation argument as a possible “surprising solution”. This is sort of what I’d concluded some time ago. He says:
“If technology trends toward a world of microscopic computers with infinitely complex realities inside, this might explain why we can’t see any alien neighbors. They’ve left us behind for the digital wormholes of their own design.”
Why colonize outer space when inner space is so much larger, richer, and accessible? Seriously, why? I mean, maybe someday a few million years before the Sun is ready to swell up and swallow us, then we’d want to relocate at least to the outer reaches of the solar system. And then again billions of years later when universal heat death becomes a thing we might decide we need to squeeze every scrap of computronium out of it in order to achieve something like the Omega Point.
(If we really do need to achieve the Omega Point and if achieving it does require a universe full of computronium then we’d better be right about there being a whole bunch of similarly simulating civilizations out there because we’d all need to pull our heads out of the simulated sand at around the same time and work together to build said Omega Point as too much of this potential computronium will have sailed over the horizon of our respective visible universes for any of us to do it on our own. It’s unlikely that a disaster so remote in time would galvanize us to expand into outer space much sooner.)
I said that Frank’s conclusion was “sort of” like my own because he is suggesting that there are scads of equally or more advanced civs out there, all of which are foregoing outer space for inner space. But I think he is picturing them as “out there” in our universe. But our universe is likely one of the virtual realities occupying our own inner space, or at least our descendant’s inner space, though I think the former is more likely as who has better motivation to simulate our lives than we, ourselves.
In my view the 2 trillion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars and trillions of planets that we see in our telescopes, are just elaborate desktop art for us. We are alone in our universe. What saves me from crass geocentricity is my conclusion that there are countless other universes, corresponding to the simulated backdrops of similarly simulated and simulating civilizations.
So, where are the other civilizations? They aren’t merely “up there” but preoccupied. They are literally out of this World.
We are not Sims.
Nowadays almost everyone who writes an explanatory book on physics for the masses has to address the simulation argument. In his excellent book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The simple link between relativity and quantum mechanics, Andrew Thomas says:
(T)hese theories consider the possibility tat our entire universe might be a simulated construct in a vast supercomputer run by an advanced civilization (as if we were simulated characters in the computer game The Sims.) The motivation behind such a simulation being just the same as why we enjoy playing games such as The Sims: for entertainment.
This statement, the one in bold, stretches the analogy too far. Have you played The Sims or any similar game? Are those game characters really like you? Hardly! I am not going to try to convince you otherwise, if you disagree, as in your case it may then be true. I address myself to those who realize that our capacity to think and feel make us of vastly greater worth than these superficial caricatures.
Have you ever made a model plane or a paper doll? If so, you more than likely did it for entertainment – your own or a child’s. Have you ever made a baby? Created a life? Raised him or her to think and feel and to enjoy the wonder of life? Was your motivation entertainment? Or were you motivated to share the joy of living with another who in some sense was, and in other ways would become, your equal, or even surpass you? To stretch the definition of “entertainment” to include such a motive is to divest the term of any utility. We create and nurture life out of love – a love of life and of life-sustaining and enhancing values.
So what would be the motive of a superiour intelligence that created “simulations” such as ourselves? Love. Any other motive necessarily ascribes an inferiour ethics to those we are required to acknowledge as having superiour technology. Give that superiour technology almost certainly entails superiour firepower – the ability to destroy (everything), it is reasonable to assume that ethical superiority is a necessary corollary. Writers who wring their hands about the possibility of discovering our technological superiours treating us as our ancestors (and ethical inferiors) treated the technologically inferiour civilizations they encountered are just being silly.
Even in these days of “Earth Days”, pleas to “Save the Whales”, and of carelessly ascribing make-believe “rights” to every beleaguered subset of humanity we can conceptualize, we are still ethically underdeveloped enough to remain at risk of blowing ourselves off the planet on about 15 minutes notice. It is unreasonable to suppose that an even more technologically powerful civilization has managed to wield such power without acquiring greater empathy, compassion and appreciation for their fellow creatures.
As bad as they are, Trump and Putin are a vast improvement over Hitler and Stalin. (I’m not sure the same is true of the Ayatollahs.) I would much more readily entrust our civilizations future to the ethics of a civilization advanced enough to create this world we experience as a “simulation” than with the cohort that leads our modern nation states.
It is not a logical necessity that advanced technology implies advanced ethics, but it is a reasonable assumption. A very reasonable one in my opinion. One I’d characterize as beyond reasonable doubt, achieving the level of scientific certainty (~95%) while allowing that it is no logical certainty (100%).
To dismiss the problem of evil arising from the notion of technology and ethically superiour creators all one need do is realize that evil is a necessary consequence of moral agency, which in tern is a prerequisite for moral development. Amoral evils (natural disasters and the like) offer challenges which, when met, further the advancement of our moral characters.
If we are simulations (better: “mathematical substructures”), as I believe we are, we are not castaway “Sims” but valued creations, offspring who can reasonably expect to be raised better than we raise our own.