TITLE: "Inception" and the Simulation Argument
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: September 06, 2016 2:44 PM
If Carroll's deconstruction of the simulation argument
is right, then the more trouble we have explaining
consciousness, the more that should push us to believe
we're in a ground-level simulation. There's probably
a higher-level version of physics in which consciousness
makes sense. Our own consciousness is probably being
run in a world that operates on that higher-level law.
And we're stuck in a low-resolution world whose physics
doesn't allow consciousness -- because if we weren't,
we'd just keep recursing further until we were.
-- Scott Alexander,
The View From Ground Level
In the latest installment of "You Haven't Seen That Yet?",
I watched the film
yesterday. There was only one person watching, but still
the film gets two hearty thumbs-up. All those Ellen Pages
waking up, one after the other...
Over the last few years, I've heard many references to the
idea from physics that we are living in a simulation, that
our universe is a simulation created by beings in another
universe. It seems that some physicists think and talk
about this a lot, which seems odd to me. Empiricism can't
help us much to unravel the problem; arguments pro and con
come down to the sort of logical arguments favored by
mathematicians and philosophers, abstracted away from
observation of the physical world. It's a fun little
puzzle, though. The computer science questions are pretty
Ideas like this are old hat to those of us who read a lot
of science fiction growing up, in particular Philip K. Dick.
Dick's stories were often predicated on suspending some
fundamental attribute of reality, or our perception of it,
and seeing what happened to our lives and experiences. Now
that I have seen Memento (a long-time favorite of
mine) and Inception, I'm pretty happy. What Philip
K. Dick was with the written word to kids of my generation,
Christopher Nolan is on film to a younger generation. I'm
glad I've been able to experience both.
The photo above comes from
Matt Goldberg's review
It shows Arthur, the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
battling with a "projection" in three-dimensional space that
folds back on itself. Such folding is possible in dream
worlds and is an important element in designing dreams that
enable all the cool mind games that are central to the film.