Simulation: An Exploration into Perception, Consciousness, and Reality | Tom Bilyeu Podcast
In a thought-provoking discussion, cognitive science and AI expert Joscha Bach delves into the intriguing concept of reality as a simulation.
The conversation explores the intersection of perception, consciousness, and the nature of reality, suggesting that our existence may be part of a larger simulation, and our understanding of the world is shaped by our individual and collective perceptions.
Quantum mechanics suggests that our perception is an observer-dependent perspective.
The universe perceives us from the perspective of the measurements of the experimental and the most elegant mathematical model that fits those measurements.
This raises questions about the conditions of a universe that can exist independently without an individual cause.
Existence in a Universe of Possibilities
We exist in a universe of possibilities where all possible operations are performed, and we exist because nothing prevents us from existing.
Within this universe, there are statistical regularities that can form stable structures like molecules, cells, and organisms.
We can only perceive parts of the universe that contribute to the structure that we are and for which we have instruments to perceive them at our level and resolution.
Reality as a Simulation
Our simulation of reality is a coarse representation of what’s happening underneath.
It is not a complete abstraction, but a map to direct reality.
Our brains function similarly to a computer, turning currents on and off to create our perception of reality.
Agency and Value Construction
As we grow older, we gain more agency over our identity and can choose our values according to the world we want to live in.
This perspective allows us to evaluate and choose values, and construct who we are.
This is part of the process of understanding what we are as human beings, beyond the personal self we construct as a child.
Consciousness as Software
Consciousness could be understood as software, a causal structure that is, in a sense, disembodied.
A computer, like our consciousness, works the same way regardless of what the universe around it is doing.
This universal causal substrate can be used to make arbitrary models of the future and the past.
The Representational Nature of Mental Processes
Our mental processes are representational, not physical, even though they are implemented by physics.
We create our own thoughts, which are representations, and these thoughts influence the further generation of representations.
This represents the continuous cycle of our consciousness shaping our reality.
The suffering many people experience is due to the confusion between their distorted internal narrative and actual reality. – Joscha Bach
The Perception of Free Will
Free will is the perception of a process where individuals make decisions based on the best possible outcomes they can foresee.
This interpretation challenges traditional views such as Calvinism, which suggests that everything is pre-ordained.
Understanding the Concept of an Agent
An agent is a system that controls future states.
The simplest example given is a thermostat, which reacts to temperature changes and performs actions to influence the outcome.
However, an agent is more complex as it models reality, has beliefs and expectations, and can commit to intentions and goals.
Consciousness and Complexity
There is a debate on whether consciousness is born out of complexity.
While there is a difference in the way simple and complex organisms approach the world, both are essentially operating on an if-then basis.
The complexity of the human mind allows for a more sophisticated version of this process, giving rise to consciousness and the ability to create predictive models.