Link blog: economics, consciousness, programming, fandom

Git Immersion – Brought to you by EdgeCase

Looks like a nice introduction to the "git" version control system. Must get round to understanding that one of these days.
(tags: programming version-control git development tutorial software tools)

I’m starting to think that the Left might actually be right – Telegraph

In the Torygraph of all places.
(tags: politics economics journalism murdoch news telegraph)

philosophy bites: Nick Bostrom on the Simulation Argument

"Nick Bostrom doesn't rule out the possibility that he might be part of a computer simulation. Find out why in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast." Hard to fault the argument, as far as I can tell, though I should probably check how people have responded to it.
(tags: philosophy computers consciousness simulation nick-bostrom transhumanism)

fic: the joinery (game of thrones) (1/2)

A nice alternate history of A Game of Thrones from Cersei's perspective: what would have happened if Ned had taken the throne instead of Robert? Spoilers for the first book/TV series.
(tags: fandom fanfic game-of-thrones books cersei/ned)

7 Comments on "Link blog: economics, consciousness, programming, fandom"

  1. On that Nick Bostrom podcast:

    Written language is one of the greatest of human inventions: it has 10 times the communications efficiency of spoken language. So podcasts are a horribly retrograde step. Just publish the transcript, dude.

    In any case, there are only two things one can usefully say about the Simulation Argument:

    1. There’s no evidence for it.
    2. There’s no evidence against it.


    1. Strongly agree about podcasts.

      Mostly disagree about the Simulation Argument, or at least about the general principles that presumably underlie what you say. (1) An *argument* isn’t the right kind of thing to have evidence for or against. (2) The proposition “we are in a simulation” can certainly have evidence for or against it (roughly the same sort of evidence as there could be for or against interventionist gods). (3) An argument with some controversial premises in it (like the SA) can be attacked or defended by attacking or defending its premises. At least some of the premises of the SA seem to me to have evidence for and against them.

      Of course, perhaps you’d agree with all that but say that what can be said about the SA isn’t *useful*. You might be right. I wonder whether the observations that there isn’t direct evidence for or against it are any more useful, though.


      1. I agree with everything you say, but sometimes you just have to be a bit unfair in order to for a joke to work.

        (1)+(3) I think it’s fair to use “Simulation Argument” as a shorthand for the conclusion to that argument, “Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.” (I’m basing this on his 2003 paper, since obviously I haven’t listened to the podcast.) This is based on empirical claims for which there could be evidence for or against, but the uncertainties are so vast that they make the Fermi paradox look like a rigorous derivation.

        (2) I certainly concede that there could be evidence for the proposition “we are in a simulation”, but as far as I can tell there isn’t actually any.

        Mostly I think that this kind of cosmological speculation is more entertainingly done in the form of science fiction.


        1. I in turn agree with everything you say (but sometimes you have to be a bit cranky in order for a pedantic nitpick to work). Just one remark: if there could be evidence for X but there isn’t, then that is itself evidence against X, though not necessarily very much evidence.


          1. Speaking of science fiction, I’ve just finished Adam Roberts’ Polystom, in which (spoilers ahead) the characters build a detailed computer simulation of a civilisation, only to find that the simulated civilisation starts to construct their own computers which are even faster than the computer on which they are being simulated. The only logical conclusion is that they have been mistaken all along about who is simulating whom…


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