Via the indispensable TerraNova blog comes word that no other organ than the New York Times itself is running an article that talks about the Simulation Argument. This exceptionally science-fictional slice of philosophy, created by one Nick Bostrom, contends that the reality we exist within is in fact a simulation of extraordinary complexity, and we are just very cunningly scripted artificial intelligences within it.
What’s interesting is that John Tierney (for the NYT) seems more convinced of Bostrom’s theory than Bostrom himself. It’s a head-twistingly paradoxical piece of thinking, so much so that even George Dvorsky finds it makes his brain hurt – which makes me feel slightly better about being in the same situation.
But my main concern is this – if Bostrom and Tierney are correct, and this really is just a simulation, haven’t they now sent a rather obvious signal to the builders of the simulation that the inmates have seen behind the wizard’s curtain? What if the success of the simulation is dependent on our ignorance of it being one? But then, surely they’d have programmed against that contingency – code is law, after all … but that sounds like the arguments for the ineffability of a deity creating mankind with free will! Good grief … if anyone needs me, I’ll be slumped in the corner surrounded by Greg Egan novels and an empty bottle of gin.