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  • Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.

  • They asked me if I wanted a drink before I came on

  • and I asked for a pint but they gave me water.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, following the other speakers I have a change of pace,

  • a little bit of a fun talk.

  • And what I am going try and do is convince you you're a stimulation,

  • and that physics can prove it, okay?

  • (Laughter)

  • So, instead of a usual uplifting talk, this is a different kind of talk.

  • Okay, so, there's one thing you know for certain,

  • that is that you exist as a flesh and blood human being;

  • my goal is to convince you otherwise. Okay?

  • So, logic is not going to be enough,

  • you guys are going to be simulation deniers,

  • there's just no way round it.

  • So, my actual goal will be to actually create a sliver of doubt in your minds,

  • so that you actually think about this, and what it might mean. Okay?

  • So, here's is the first check about simulations.

  • How many of you have ever played a computer game?

  • Just raise your hands.

  • Ah, alright.

  • So, did you do it against simulated player or simulated players?

  • Or, in fact, was it you, several people plus simulated people?

  • Right. And what role did you take? Was it a pawn or a hero?

  • What role do you have in life? Is it pawn or hero?

  • Right. Are you the king, for example?

  • (Laughter)

  • I don't see him here... but...

  • Now, the other thing you might ask, if you were a social scientist,

  • or other kind of scientist like a cosmologist:

  • Would you like to run realistic simulations

  • to test and develop your theories? Likewise for political candidates.

  • Right? So, I'm just trying to see there's motivation for it.

  • And then the question is: Are computation and simulation capabilities

  • increasing over time?

  • So, think of the HetNOS, think about Moore's law,

  • think about what computer you had when you were young

  • and what you have on you now, not that you're not all young still.

  • Okay, that's just setting you up for having the doubt.

  • Okay, so we'll take a little journey into philosophy.

  • Solipsism is the idea that one's own mind is the only thing that's sure to exist.

  • It turns out, people have been studying this for decades,

  • and realizes both irrefutable and indefensible at the same time,

  • so have this point of view,

  • and that it's not a falsifiable hypothesis,

  • there are people who work on this issue.

  • So, there doesn't seem to be any imaginable disproof that you can have,

  • so even if you have a Solipsan, he dies,

  • you can't falsify his belief, because he's not there to do it.

  • This is a pragmatic dead end, it's kind of like what we have on TV now,

  • which is, you know, zombie philosophy.

  • But there is an opposite, that is philosophical zombies.

  • There's a slight use to philosophical zombies.

  • So what is the idea here?

  • The philosophical zombie is a hypothetical being

  • that in this thing what you all thought a normal human being,

  • that is everybody you think you are, you know what you think you are,

  • except that it lacks conscious experience, qualia or sentience.

  • So, if you take a philosophical zombie and poke it with a sharp object,

  • it doesn't feel any pain, however, it behaves exactly as if it does.

  • It would say "ouch" and do all the usual kind of things.

  • So, what the zombie is there for, is to support the idea

  • that the world includes two kinds of things: the mental and the physical,

  • or the concepts and the physical world around you.

  • And so that's the idea.

  • So, we have in cosmology, lots of things. We have the anthropic principal,

  • that is, a philosophical concept that the universe must be compatible

  • with conscious life that observes it.

  • And there's a strong version and a weak version.

  • One of them that says the universe is compelled to have conscious life emerge,

  • and the other says that the universe is fine-tuned for life to be necessary.

  • And this is pretty much in line with a lot of even more specific kind of ideas,

  • from conservative Christianity and Islam, that there's intelligent design,

  • or that there could be like a simulation. I'm working on you... so....

  • And we also have the idea of multiverses,

  • that there are many different kinds... there's a metauniverse

  • and there's many possible universes inside of it.

  • And there are different reasons for that, quantum mechanics,

  • but also a way to explain whether physical constants happen to be the ones

  • that make this auditorium possible.

  • And so, you know, one way is to have that many real universes,

  • the other way is just to make a lot of simulations.

  • So, your choice. Okay, so now we move on.

  • Here's the crux of the arguments,

  • and these arguments have been around for more than 30 years,

  • they were first published 30 years ago,

  • and what people went to a lot of trouble to show,

  • that one of these three things is extremely likely to be true.

  • So, you get your choice between No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3,

  • just like the doors, look what's behind each door.

  • The first one is: Human civilization is unlikely

  • to reach a level of technological maturity

  • capable of producing simulated realities, or it's physically impossible.

  • Okay, so we made some progress in 30 years and I'll mention that.

  • The second is: Comparable civilizations throughout the universe

  • which do reach that capability

  • will choose not to make simulations

  • in such a large scale that, in fact, the probability of being a simulated being

  • is much higher than probability of being a real being.

  • So, those are your choices, right --

  • there's some other choices, but they're extraordinarily unlikely,

  • and we can pretty much rule them out.

  • And the 3rd choice is: Any entities with our general set of experiences

  • are almost certainly to be living in a simulation.

  • That would be us. Right? Okay? In case you guys aren't paying attention.

  • (Chuckles)

  • Okay. So, let's talk about making simulator realities by humans.

  • So, will humans produce realistic simulations?

  • And the answer is yes.

  • I have to keep coming back because I just wrote this talk

  • and so I don't remember what I have to say.

  • And, so, the answer to that is clearly yes, you guys already proved it,

  • because there's a lot of money to be made in making computer games,

  • simulated realities.

  • And the better the simulator reality, the more people you get involved in it.

  • There's a lot of entertainment, we have a lot of animated movies.

  • Now, we're going to have animated interactive movies

  • and videos and pornography.

  • So, you know, you can't rule out pornography,

  • in the early days of the Internet, pornography was the No. 1 commerce,

  • it was roughly half the commerce in the Internet in the early days.

  • And even today, 50% of the bits that are transmitted on the Internet

  • are transmitted for porn.

  • So, you can wonder: Why is it? Well, originally stories

  • and then there got to be pictures, and then there got to be videos,

  • pretty soon there'll be interactive videos.

  • So, it's clear there is a tremendous financial motivation,

  • and especially here in Media City,

  • where people make their living out of these kind of things.

  • So, how... I'm not sure which of the three, But OK.

  • How detailed and how accurate will the simulations be?

  • And the answer turns out, as we know from experience,

  • computation power is the first issue,

  • you have to have tremendously good computation power

  • to make a really good quality simulation,

  • and good programming, that is good software,

  • to explain what's going on, that's the second.

  • But, clearly we're making progress, just look at the games, look at PONG,

  • and look at that the kind of video games we have now. So, we'll see.

  • What about simulations by other civilizations?

  • So, now we know a lot more about this than we did 30 years ago.

  • We've made tremendous progress.

  • We've discovered more than 2,000 other stars

  • that have planetary systems around them.

  • And we know there is at least on the order of a billion or more habitable planets

  • in our galaxy, and there's about a 100 billion galaxies

  • for around 10^20 to 10^22 depending what your range

  • possible sites for life and then advanced civilizations in the universe.

  • So, what are the chances that the earth is the most advanced,

  • the most computationally powerful.

  • Well, the odds, you got to be really, pretty much thinking you're special,

  • to think that the odds are that we're the top.

  • So, the question is: Will advanced beings run simulations?

  • And, in fact, will simulated beings run simulations?

  • If we're simulated, are we running simulations in our simulations,

  • simulations all the way down? If you know the things.

  • So, even the people running our simulation don't know if they're a simulation or not.

  • It's interesting, because it creates ethics and a bunch of things

  • because there might be somebody watching you.

  • So, are ethical considerations likely to stop every single civilization

  • from running simulations and running large numbers of simulations?

  • Well, the answer I think is "no".

  • What if doing simulations is likely to say what we think are real lives?

  • Right? We're willing to do the simulations

  • even though they're being strapped in that simulation, right?

  • Conscious beings.

  • And the other thing you might consider is how do human beings

  • treat what they think are real human beings.

  • How's the ethical treatment on our Earth?

  • And how much more is society likely to advance

  • before we're doing

  • very advanced simulations of civilizations and beings?

  • So, we'll probably all be in a simulation. The lights are not on enough in here,

  • but look to the left and look to the right,

  • if there's anybody here you think is a real person, this is a random sample,

  • then you're probably not. (Laughter)

  • But, you know, If you think you're a social scientist

  • or an anthropologist or something, and you want to run

  • and see how the civilizations rise and fall,

  • you'll run simulations with up to billions of people.

  • And you will run many of those simulations,

  • so it's not so hard to imagine you'll get up to the level

  • of 10^12:1 simulated beings to unsimulated beings,

  • that's why the probability becomes fairly likely

  • that any being that has a behavior or activities and experiences like us

  • is simulated.

  • Sorry, I got some sunscreen in my eye.

  • Put on sunscreen this morning in case it was an unusual day in England.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I got a little in my eye here.

  • So let's talk about how we're going to do the simulations on the Earth.

  • This is part of going back to convince you

  • that we're going to have realistic simulations

  • and we're going to have artificial reality to go with it.

  • So, can we take a real brain and make it into a virtual mind?

  • And the answer is: So, here is the purple real brain,

  • and the neurons behind it, it's this neural net,

  • it's the regional neural net, as far as we're concerned.

  • And then on the left, yeah your left,

  • there is the beginnings of a mapping of a brain,

  • so that I can take and map that brain, and just place it into a computer.

  • So, how's that going to work?

  • The answer is, it's going to work just fine,

  • because we're there to the point where we can do it now.

  • So, here is a high-resolution, 45-minute brain scan

  • that was done in February.

  • And 45 minutes, that's how long you have to hold the person's head still,

  • in order to make a map to this level.

  • And what you can see here are the main --

  • Let's see if the laser pointer works -- -- No --

  • So, you can see here the main highways in your brain.

  • They're mapped out by this, and this is basically an MRI

  • I got a scan of my brain done and I was really impressed,

  • to prove that I had a brain, but one of my friends got an fMRI

  • to prove that his brain worked. (Laughter)

  • The thing that's impressive about this

  • is that the MRI's are getting so good now,

  • you can map to the individual neuron level.

  • The problem is there's a lot of neurons,

  • so you have to hold the head still for a long time,

  • and that's an advance in the ability to do the mapping,

  • and also in the software for doing that mapping.

  • And, so, that's where we are today.

  • If we can hold the person still long enough, if we can find a volunteer

  • that we can put, you know,

  • the little plastic thing on their head, to hold their head still for some days,

  • which is a little bit of a problem, we could probably go ahead

  • and map their entire brain,

  • and then just transform that map into a computer model,

  • and we would have that person's mind downloaded into a computer.

  • This is coming and this is coming soon,

  • just like it's now possible for the order of ÂŁ1,000 to get your DNA mapped,

  • it's going to cost you something,

  • in about 30 years it's going to be possible

  • to download your brain into a computer for about ÂŁ1,000 pounds,

  • plus inflation. (Laughter)

  • Could go up, could go down. Right?