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Deliberately trying to annoy simulators?

3 Post author: DataPacRat 27 January 2012 11:57PM

I regularly seek inspiration by taking long solo walks; and during my most recent such, considering what practical consequences (if any) there would be of the universe I know being a simulation - something flipped in my head, and I thought to myself, "Screw the simulators. If I'm the first copy of me, I should make it as hard as possible for any simulation of me to keep up with me - and if I'm a simulation, I'm going to try to do even better than my original did."

Ignoring the impracticality of trying to out-do myself, is there anything that someone living in an 'original' universe can do that would make it harder for a future simulator to reproduce them? And, mirror-wise, is there anything someone in a simulated universe could do to differentiate themselves from their original? And, if the answer to either question is 'yes'... would it be a good or bad idea to try?

 

(And is there any way to gather any actual data that might support the answers to such questions, instead of merely making guesses of a similar nature to classic college/stoner "Our whole universe could be, like, an /atom/, man" musings?)

Comments (18)

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 12:07:53AM 14 points [-]

For one thing, you probably can't increase the amount of entropy you use by making more observations.

If video games are any guide, I would recommend spending a lot of time standing in doorways to screw up as much path-finding as possible. Getting the NPCs to deal with temporarily blocked corridors seems to be a universal pain in the ass. (Not that there is evidence that we already have trouble with cell transitions.)

Comment author: shokwave 28 January 2012 12:55:48AM 11 points [-]

On that note, become a city planner and design horrifying paths through high-density areas, then regularly traverse those areas at peak times to force the simulator to pathfind for all the simulated people.

Comment author: DanPeverley 28 January 2012 01:46:43AM 14 points [-]

.... Whenever I see a particularly awful piece of infrastructure, I will imagine that this was the intention of the engineer and laud them for their creativity in creating chaos for our simulating overlords.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 January 2012 04:22:09AM 9 points [-]

While this is amusing, it doesn't likely work very well. If the simulators are simulating even a small number of humans to a high fidelity, the path finding issues would be very computationally small in comparison.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 05:41:57PM 3 points [-]

This only works with half-assed early 21st century A* pathfinding. If we are in a simulation good enough to simulate general intelligence, pathfinding is a non-issue.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 06:14:58PM *  0 points [-]

Well, that depends on what the level and extent of the simulation is. For example, if this is a video game, most people might be computationally simple NPCs based on legacy code.

Despite many orders of magnitude more processing speed and memory, we still can't get companions to walk through doors properly. If engineering taught me anything, it's that every job is done half-assedly and will stay that way as long as it possibly can.

Or we might be in half a simulation, where player AI actually comes from outside the world (like in all our games), but NPCs are handled via (flawed) AI. I'm not sure how I could easily tell the difference between the two. If you're serious about annoying the simulators though, going off the rails is probably more interesting than finding implementation bottlenecks, sure.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 07:43:49PM 0 points [-]

You are postulating a non-reductionist world in which you are the only or one of a small set of agents with actual minds. I think that's wrong.

If current science and philosophy tell us anything about our simulation, it is that it is very detailed and low-level.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 08:24:56PM 3 points [-]

(Note, just to make it explicit: I'm not really taking the whole simulation cluster of ideas serious. It's just that common simulation hypothesis assumptions about necessary complexity and low-level simulation seem quite implausible.)

You are postulating a non-reductionist world in which you are the only or one of a small set of agents with actual minds.

Correct. Maybe not strictly non-reductionist, but for all practical purposes, yeah.

If current science and philosophy tell us anything about our simulation, it is that it is very detailed and low-level.

"Us"? Are you running a particle accelerator? All I know is that there exists somewhat-consistent literature to back up a certain vast, low-level interpretation of my actual experiences, and even then I have no idea how the (certainly plausible-seeming) ideas about physics get me to an explanation of minds or consciousness at all, so if they are all wrong or massively incomplete, I wouldn't know.

That might be because there is a vast, detailed universe that follows relatively simple and consistent laws. (I certainly favor that interpretation.)

It might also be because someone designed a plausible physicalist setting for a game and presented it to me in a convincing way. I don't think that's actually very hard to do.

For example, I regularly have lucid dreams that have a similar level of detail as my waking state (even though I know I'm dreaming). It looks the same, people act realistically, I can talk to them. I don't think my brain simulates any kind of detailed physics for that. The illusion doesn't last very long, sure, but scaling it up still seems simpler than getting a quantum physics implementation to work properly.

I'm not saying physics is a hoax, but it would certainly be much easier to bullshit me into believing that I'm living in a detailed physicalist universe than to actually simulate even just one planet of it. So if you want to complicate the simulation, you maybe shouldn't even assume that there actually is a quark layer or anything like that.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 January 2012 03:27:48AM 1 point [-]

You are postulating a non-reductionist world in which you are the only or one of a small set of agents with actual minds.

Correct. Maybe not strictly non-reductionist, but for all practical purposes, yeah.

Of course I know this to be incorrect. but of course I would say that rite? :)

I'm not saying physics is a hoax, but it would certainly be much easier to bullshit me into believing that I'm living in a detailed physicalist universe than to actually simulate even just one planet of it. So if you want to complicate the simulation, you maybe shouldn't even assume that there actually is a quark layer or anything like that.

Ok good point. So then if we are in a simulation, we can probably fuck with it.

I had some good ideas on this the other day, but I was thinking of it from the acasual trade angle instead of the "universe is sim" angle. One was you should entangle your mental state with some really hard to compute stuff, like some crazy multiphysics with convective fluid flows. That only works for acausal trade, because you are being simulated to find out what you would do so the simulator is constrained to be accurate. In the general case, they can just bullshit a result.

If they are doing a simulation tho, it will be because they have some question that they can't just bullshit. The trick would be to find out what that is and do some crazy high-load physics around that.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 January 2012 04:20:42AM 3 points [-]

Screw the simulators. If I'm the first copy of me, I should make it as hard as possible for any simulation of me to keep up with me

Why is that in your interest? Is this just because it seems fun?

Comment author: DataPacRat 28 January 2012 05:02:20AM 0 points [-]

It was in counter to some musings I was having, along the lines of "Is there anything I can do to make myself more interesting, in the sense of being more likely to be re-simulated?. If I tried, I could probably arrange to get myself namedropped in a published novel by a prizewinning authour, and thus anyone who wanted to simulate that particular fictional universe would also end up simulating me, as well. But do I really want to arrange my life to suit the hypothesized interests of future simulation-creators?"

Comment author: faul_sname 28 January 2012 07:59:06AM 3 points [-]

If you are living in a simulation and the anthropic principle holds, then yes, you probably do want to arrange your life to be interesting.

Comment author: DataPacRat 28 January 2012 02:29:10PM 1 point [-]

I'm aware of that line of reasoning; what I'm proposing is a deliberate rejection of some of it's assumptions.

There are several mythic precedents; if the universe is arranged a certain way, then at least from a certain perspective, the best course of action is to sit down, shut up, and dance to the head of the pantheon's tune. But looked at another way, greater rewards can be found in the dignity of rebellion and choosing one's own path, even if it means getting cast down or having your liver eternally gnawed upon - or being un-simulated.

Comment author: billswift 28 January 2012 06:53:52PM 1 point [-]

Being un-simulated, or death in a materialistic/naturalistic reality, is probably the least scary future there is. If you don't exist, then you can't feel pain, remorse, or even regrets.

Comment author: DataPacRat 28 January 2012 07:37:21PM 1 point [-]

Precisely (or at least arguably) - and that's part of the point.

I'll try describing this a different way: What actions can we take that would have an effect on the actions of a simulation-builder? What can we do that would make them more likely to not create a simulation at all, then to create a new one containing copies of ourselves who are ignorant of the builder's level of reality?

If it's in my own best interests to have a few future copies of myself as possible placed into simulations to dance to the simulation-builder's tune, then how can I nudge the probabilities so that future copies of myself tend to be placed into my preferred sorts of environments?

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 January 2012 05:47:24PM 2 points [-]

Something related that I posted a long time ago:

(Taken from http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2005/10/holodeck-scenario-part-i.html)

Let me weigh in on what I consider to be the worst possible catastrophe of them all. One that would explain every stupidity in the world today. That we are living in a very poor simulation.

...

All right, the notion is gaining some degree of plausibility. But suppose it's true. In that case, whose simulation are we living in? Some vast future Omega Point consciousness? Aliens, simulating weird alternative life forms? (Plausible, since human beings are so crazy.)

Naw, it should be simpler than that. And much more consistent with the irrationality we see around us?

How about this one? That we are all living inside someone else's Star Trek Holodeck dream. Is there any way we could test this hypothesis? A method that goes even deeper than cybernetics, neurophysiology or even physics?

Simply look around and see who has been impossibly fortunate, vastly out of all proportion to personal talent and competence, or even family privilege, or even any possible intervention by anomalous good luck!

Next, consider that a long-lasting Holodeck experience will not just be about being lucky, winning every poker hand and getting every girl. Heck, that's boring. Sitting around in a harem on a pile of jewels? feh. Gets tired quickly, take my word for it!

Anyway, if you simply win every hand, it's hard to forget that this is a simulation. If that is your aim -- to live in a wish fantasy while still being able to pretend it's real -- well then you want all the cool stuff to happen in ways that at least marginally let you fool yourself... into believing that you earned it all. Not because you dropped a lot of quarters into the Holodeck slot, but because you're more deserving. Because you’re gooder. Because you're better than everybody else.

Yeah! That’s the ticket. Tell the Holodeck computer to simulate real opponents - all the smug, assured, brainy types you hate. Only in this new universe they will lose despite all their fancy book smarts.

And your allies? Fun guys who know how to party and help you give wedgies to the smug, smartypants nerds. Yeah! As for luck? Well, set the game to easy, of course, but with LOTS of nerds to overcome and lots of social rules to flaut. And while victory should follow victory, it should never be TOO obvious. Make it gradual enough to last. So you can avoid the real enemy. Boredom.

All right, then, folks. Can YOU see anybody around you whose life we must clearly all be revolving around, in his personal holodeck program?

David Brin's answer is here, along with a way to ruin the player's fun: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2005/10/holodeck-scenario-part-ii.html

Comment author: billswift 28 January 2012 06:47:34PM *  0 points [-]

Most of John Dalmas's novels are based on our living in a "video game" universe, where we are purposely limited versions of our more powerful selves, to make it more interesting. It makes as much sense as any other metaphysics.

The idea is explored most explicitly in The Reality Matrix and in The Playmasters.

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 10 February 2012 06:00:52PM 1 point [-]

A character in Greg Egan's Permutation City shoved into a low-fi simulator takes a very long shower and carefully looks at the water rivulets to annoy the simulation owner, since the sim only models things around him he's looking at, and modeling turbulent hydrodynamics is very computationally expensive compared to regular solid objects.

Taking long walks in forests and paying as much attention as you can to the very dense amount of visually discernible fractal details around you would be a similar thing. Or in general hanging around anywhere where there is much rust, dirt, decay and other halfway-entropy making things, but things haven't gone completely homogeneous like in a desert.

Most people alive are already living in pretty entropic environments compared to a spotless empty rooms with all straight angles and perfectly smooth white walls, so this might not inconvene the simulator that much.