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If we ignore for the moment that we are already moist robots of a sort, I wonder if it is inevitable that we will evolve into more traditional robots of metal and silicon and plastic.

I think futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that someday we will have body scanners so accurate we can analyze a human brain and transfer it to a computer. Obviously the computers of the future will need to be more powerful to handle the load, but that seems feasible. I wonder what happens next.

Suppose we transfer a dying guy's brain into a computer, and that computer passes the Turing Test, thus demonstrating genuine intelligence. For all practical purposes it might have the same personality as the human brain that went into it. If you had a conversation with it, I can imagine it expressing a desire to live and even procreate.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Once you transfer more than one human into computer form, the two of them could choose to mate, with their offspring being the combination of the two artificial personalities, after agreeing to some rules about which traits they prefer to be dominant.

As computers, they could still tap into all the knowledge on the Internet, but only as needed, the same way regular humans access the Internet. The only programs running automatically and all the time would be their core personalities.

Eventually these computer brains would request more robust robot bodies, and the regular humans would oblige by developing ever better models. And then things get really interesting because regular humans could mate with robot lovers. The offspring would be the combination of the computer's mind and the scanned brain of the regular human, again following rules to see which traits dominate. The offspring would necessarily be a computer, thus dooming regular humans in the long run.

In some cases a dying male could leave behind a sperm sample before evolving into his computer-robot self. That way he could still reproduce with a regular human woman. So there would be a period in human evolution where regular humans and robot humans routinely mate and have the option of a traditional or robot baby.

Eventually, when all humans have robot bodies and computer brains, it will seem silly to be encased in separate physical bodies when reality could be better handled via simulation. So all the individual computers would agree to download to one huge computer and live a simulated reality for the rest of time.

The imagined reality would feature each "person" in flesh form. Upon the death of a particular simulated human, the host computer person would "reincarnate" into another simulated human baby.

By the way, it already happened. Your flesh form died a billion years ago. To make the simulation meaningful, you walled off the memory of being in a simulation. But you left the digital equivalent of a bread crumb path back because, being human, you couldn't totally release on the past. So we see hints and clues in this simulated life that give us a way out of this simulation if it becomes too brutal.

For example, in this simulated life we continually create simulations of our own. We call them TV shows, plays, movies, books, and even computer games that are simulations of life. Everything in this life is a metaphor. And our coincidences aren't as coincidental as we think.

I'm guessing you don't buy this explanation of your reality, but consider this: If the prediction of the future seems reasonable, and time is infinite, it is infinitely more likely it already happened compared to the possibility that it will happen in our future and hasn't yet. We could be imagining the universe as only 14 billion years old in the simulation.

(Yes, I am borrowing from the Boltzmann Brain idea and combining it with Kurzweil's predictions and a dash of The Matrix, plus a few other ideas. That doesn't make it wrong. That just proves we left bread crumbs.)
 
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Dec 15, 2008
Good god. How many times have I heard this (or variations of this) premise since I was in grade school?! Ever since Neuromancer won the science fiction awards, everyone wants to cash in on the same few ideas. It wasn't even "original" back when William Gibson wrote about it; he was just really good at writing about it.

If "robot babies" were born -- intelligences without a physiological dependence on a biological body -- they wouldn't be anything like us. A huge portion of our intelligence is shaped by eating, drinking, pooping, peeing, getting rashes, and being uncomfortable in a variety of biological ways... These experiences wouldn't shape the artificial intelligence, and such an intelligence would grow up with completely foreign cares and concerns.

The FIRST GENERATION of such beings would be radically different from biologically-born !$%*!$%*! The difference between men and machines would be at least as dramatic as the difference between men and women. Why on earth would a bizarre de-evolution occur, whereby computer-based intelligence would seek a simulated biological life. That borders on retarded. And someone, somewhere would have to maintain that simulated world in some way or another. Who's doing that? Why would that person permit the enormous waste of energy and effort that causes a billion artificial beings to pointless "live" in a simulated life forever?!
 
 
Dec 13, 2008
I do love the Matrix Trilogy - I don't know about the other guys. I think that it is imaginable, however most likely not the case. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to play with the idea though.
 
 
Dec 12, 2008
why does my comment keep getting deleted.
 
 
Dec 12, 2008
I have to wonder if you've seen the movies for Ghost in the Shell? (Apparently the first inspired the Matrix.)

They deal with a similar concept, but instead of just curiously copying their minds onto a computer, humans, as their original fleshy bits fall prey to disease, injury or just old age, replace their various body parts with mechanical ones. As this process goes on, eventually some of them acquire completely robotic bodies that they periodically switch out for newer models. Not everyone can afford this, nor does there seem to be a preference for robotic parts over real flesh (some of the characters lament the loss of the enjoyment of food, others continue to workout their bodies, despite the fact that it will have no effect on their muscle tone - these are details noticed in passing, really). The meat of story, of course, gets more philosophical than this - if you haven't seen it, I recommend both the first and the second movies. If you're drawn at all to anime, then I also recommend part of the television series - the story arc focusing on the laughing man.
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Scott, there is a very interesting philosophical article, named "Are You Living In a Computer Simulation?", that explores the idea that we are probably living in a simulation, given some assumptions about our species and our technological progress. You can get it here: http://www.simulation-argument.com/
 
 
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Dec 11, 2008
Aardwizz, you're making the assumption that ALL the possible states need to be stored somewhere. That's absurd. A single rubik's cube has more possible permutations than there are elementary particles in the universe too. But reproducing one doesn't require that much information. Essentially you need enough information to store the coordinates of 20 little pieces. Not that big a deal. Same goes with the brain. You need to map the position, state, and pathway connections of each neuron. That's a huge amount of information, sure, but we're not talking about something impossible. Just beyond our technology right now.
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Have you ever read the novel The Golden Age, by Jon C. Wright? This takes place in a time when the human brain can be scanned and stored in a computer, and a few people do choose to live permanently in computers. More, however, prefer to have new flesh-and-blood bodies created for them whenever their old bodies look like they're about to die, or when they want to change their appearance. Then their personality and memories are encoded into the brain of the new body, and the old body killed, so that the new body can live on as the only copy of that person.
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
The most interesting assumption here is that time is infinite. If that were truly the case, it not only would have happened already, but it would have happened infinite times already. The first simulation would have developed its own simulation, who in turn developed another simulation.... so on. Given that time is infinite in the past, there's theoretically an infinite number of nested simulations. One of them somewhere along the line would have added in additional programming to not allow further simulations.

Since we're not already robo-brains right now, one must conclude that either A) We are in the final simulation, and we will never see our "world" develop into Scotts version of the future, or B) Time is finite and anything can happen until the universe collapses back on itself. Any other possibility such as, maybe we're just caught in the middle, and can still develop our own simulation has a 1 / infinity chance of happening.... Infinite time does funny things.....
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Isnt also our brain modified by the levels of stress, hormones and chemicals? Your idea is to put those dynamic changes in your robotic brain system? Wouldnt brains in that situation go crazy? I bet manmy minds wouldn't resist the shock, but I guess this is just part of your simulation situation, heh.
Anyway I like the first post, the one about how hard is to store information. But if we could build a simulation of the universe, wouldnt be good to make it with less information than the real one?
 
 
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Dec 11, 2008
Aardwizz, thanks for the common sense.

Or to put it another way: [If the prediction of the future seems reasonable] -> it doesn't.

Or to put it another way (Courtesy to Living Colour):

This Is The Life

In another life
You might have been a genius
In another life
You might have been a star
In another life
Your face might have been perfect
In another life
You’d drive a better car

In another life
All your jokes are funny
In another life
Your heart is free from fear
In another life
You make a lot of money
In this other life
Everything is clear

In another life
You’re always the hero
In another life
You always win the game
In another life
No one ever cheats you
In another life
You never have to change

In another life
Your friends never desert you
In another life
You never have to cry
In another life
No one ever hurts you
In this other life
Your loved-ones never die

But this is the life you have
This is the life you have
This is the life you have
This is the life

In another life
You’re always the victim
In another life
You’re always the thief
In another life
You are always lonely
In this other life
There is no relief

In your real life
Treat it like it’s special
In your real life
Try to be more kind
In your real life
Think of those that love you
In this real life
Try to be less blind
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Scott:

I hate to burst your bubble (seriously - I don't want to, and I considered not posting, but you strike me as someone who wants to KNOW), but the whole premise comes down to that seeming simple "analyse that human brain and transfer it to a computer".

That's akin to the older "If we knew the exact postion and momentum of every particle and had a computer powerful enough, we'd be able to predict the future". Heisenberg aside (and that's no small aside), how can you store more information in the universe than the universe contains? "Other universes" are hypotherical, theorectical, mathematical constructs. By DEFINITION, we are bound by this universe.

But the brain is easier, right? The brain consists of 10^10 neurons. Each neuron can make as many as 1000 (10^3) connections ("synapses"), so you have a total of 10^13 possible connections. A big number, but certainly managable. But you need to know the state of each of those synapses, simultaneously. Let's say that each one is either ON or OFF (which is an oversimplification, I suspect that we are analog, not digital). That means that there are a possibility of 2^(10^13) states. That number is really, really big. That number is bigger than all the elementary particles (protons, electrons, etc.) than exist in the universe.

Again, where do you store the exact state? Oh sure, we can build a "brain" that has SOME state, and we build them every day (the last one I built just turned 16), but those brains aren't ME. And that's the goal here, right, to have ouseelves preseved?

And does Heisenberg (or Schroedinger) come into play here? Can we know the exact state of 2^(10^13) synapses, without effecting them?


 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Oh me oh my. We are off to the land of OZ again running into our parallel universe alter egos, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion. The Wizard may have the answers if can make it through the hazards and hoops to get there. Toto, where did I put those red slippers?
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
What kind of warped society would create a simulation where my washing machine breaks down and traps my underpants mid-wash cycle? And no, I can't get anyone to come out before Saturday.
 
 
Dec 11, 2008
Interesting idea. I'd think that even in an infinite future though there will still be planets starting over, so why not this one? maybe there is a simulation happening somewhere else, but its more likely that this particular planet is still evolving
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
The problem with this scenario parallels the Zoo Hypothesis, wherein it is assumed that Earth has not been visited by extraterrestrials because we've been rated endangered or quarantined (or whatever) from the rest of the universe. Skeptics ask where the poachers are.

Upon reading this, skeptics will ask where the hackers are. Why isn't anyone tweaking with our (my?) reality?

That said, I am fascinated by the Simulated Reality idea. If it is actually true right now, and we have entered 'this' program (for whatever reason), we may well treat ourselves to paradise for our struggles. That is, provided we control the scenario and what reality we want played.

The contrary fear is that their are strict criteria for 'advancing' to higher levels. Perhaps our deeds impact the ending....

What I don't get is how we would get to the ending. Death? If people start believing that SR is true, and that we somehow get to pick the simulation, THIS simulation will be faced with an epidemic of suicides. What moral justification to suffering when we could be happy all the time?

Or do we pick the suffering simulations to escape omniscient boredom?

I always love these reality/mind-bending posts Scott! Makes the internet seem worthwhile!
 
 
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Dec 10, 2008
Im just thingking aloud here .. (very quietly so) but if we are to asume "time" is indeed infinet as most of us now do, And infinity can be substetuted with Endless or without beguining it might as well be substetuted with "nonexisting (if only in the way we are used to looking at it) . Then isnt it flat out pointles to think of our univers as having eather a past or a future? as it is not the amount of "time" that controls the procces of "evulution" or "chance"
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
This hypothesis presumes that future beings want to create a virtual world and live like primitive people! i.e. Go back in time. Why the hell would they want to do that?? I know if I created a virtual world right now, I'd want to know all about the scientific and technological advances that mankind has thus far made (I like my microwave popcorn).

Possibly all the virtual beings that knew about the scientific advances of their predecessors died out, but surely we would've been left with some kind of evidence of their existence?

Regardless, the hypothesis fits into one out of infinity due to no proof.
 
 
Dec 10, 2008
I don't know if you have ever read this, but you should. It ties in very closely with your vision: http://marshallbrain.com/discard1.htm
 
 
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Dec 10, 2008
If not for the fact that I convinced myself of exactly this scenario a long time ago, YEARS before coming across Asimov's last question and others, I wouldn't subscribe to it. But here I am, saying, you know Scott? This IS the awakening. The top thinkers of the planet are the first to figure it out.

Maybe it's a game? Maybe once everyone on earth agrees, the virtual reality video game will end and we'll all return to the place we started at, when the universe was (will be?) 20 billion years old.

Ah...
 
 
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Dec 10, 2008
That hurt to think like that...warn a guy next time wouldya? I need some pharmaceutical grade ganja to cope now...just saying
 
 
 
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