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[P]
Imagine that you were God...

By 11223 in Culture
Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:00:09 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Imagine that you are a God, and that you have just created a Universe. This Universe is not just any Universe, but one that contains life (and more specifically, intelligent life.) What is it that you'd like to see the inhabitants accomplish? What goals would you like to set for them? What would be your expectations?


At some point, the scientific tools may be available to us to create another Universe - not necessarily like our own, but perhaps different. And, through experimentation, we would probably find the contstraints that lead to life being present. Eventually, we'd find the ones that contain intelligent life (which may be all universes that contain life). These intelligent life forms would then be faced with their own philosophical quandries, including the goals they set for themselves. What would you, as a scientist, expect from your creations?

Personally, I'd delight in an application of the meta-Turing test (the one that states that a being is intelligent if it seeks and devises intelligence tests for objects of its own creation). I'd love to see my creations try to create a Universe themselves. It would present a wonderfully recursive structure; instead of parallel universes we now have recursive universes!

In fact, observation of a Universe we create would likely be very constrained - no freeflying camera, in other words - and perhaps the only way to measure the existance of an intelligent being would be to recognize the effects of experimentation with tools (such as quantumn computers) that lead to Universe-simulators. In a way, making a Universe simulator might be the only way to communicate with God!

What other interesting things would you like to see from your creations? Would you like to see them understand the mechanics of the Universe we put them in? Would it be interesting to see them interact with their universe through creation of physically unlikely circumstances with tools such as particle accelerators?

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Imagine that you were God... | 59 comments (58 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Well.... (4.00 / 17) (#1)
by Denor on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 04:34:32 PM EST

If this simulated universe were anything like Sim City 3000, My goal would be to get the inhabitants to stop griping about how bad traffic is and start taking the damn subway.

**Thinks perhaps he's been playing a bit much sc3k**


-Denor


The solution is... (Very OT) (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by 11223 on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 04:37:31 PM EST

(Note, I've never played SC3K, only SC2K). The solution is to destruct the roads that are heavily trafficked (is that even a word? I'll just verb traffic anyway.) and place subway stations near them. That way, they stop using that stretch of road and start using the subway. Try some bus stations, too.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

or.. in SC Classic (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by joeyo on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 05:08:39 PM EST

In the original SimCity you could build your cities without roads at all... Just make 9 by 9 zoned squares with rail all around and put a police station/fire station/ park in the middle. :)

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

Uhm... (none / 0) (#37)
by Parity on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 02:27:51 PM EST

But that slowed growth, because commerce at least, and I think industry too, grew faster near traffic; train-tracks could carry an infinite amount of commuters, but never created traffic density... if you have disasters off, though, you can afford to be as slow as you want. ;)

Parity Odd




[ Parent ]
I would just sit back and enjoy the show. (3.55 / 9) (#4)
by Kiss the Blade on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 04:54:47 PM EST

I wouldn't expect anything from my creations, other than that they come up with their own expectations for themselves, and surely by definition any intelligent being does? The very essence of being intelligent is that you have motivations and desires, otherwise why bother thinking at all? Even spock must have had some emotions ;)

If I created a Universe, I would merely want to observe, rather than meddle. The only meddling I would do would be with the initial constants that kicked the whole thing off - a bit like setting off one of Conway's 'Game of Life' simulcra.

Somehow I think that we will never have such an awesome capability though, or at least, if our civilisation ever does have such a capability, then I get the feeling that we will no longer be classifiable as 'Homo Sapiens.'

It's interesting to think about, anyway.


KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.

Imagine that you were God... (2.14 / 14) (#6)
by theboz on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 05:17:25 PM EST

What' you talkin' 'bout Willis?!?!

I *AM* God...

Err...I'd finish but I have to go answer to my girlfriend right now.

Stuff.

I disagree (2.66 / 3) (#16)
by mystic on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 08:06:55 PM EST

As of 0904 hrs SST,on 21st December, 2000 I am my own god! I refute thy claim!

[ Parent ]
Huh? (2.00 / 5) (#7)
by fvw on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 05:32:53 PM EST

Please define life. For me, life is just a class of chemical reactions. What those reactions do, is possibly (depending on your thoughts on QM etc) predetermined, but even if it isn't, just a big roll of the dice. Hardly interesting imho..

Um... (2.33 / 3) (#13)
by kjeldar on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 07:31:11 PM EST

For me, life is just a class of chemical reactions. [...] Hardly interesting imho..

I know I have to be misunderstanding you, because from my POV, it's looking like you should have killed yourself by now. As my old high-school English teacher used to say each time anyone in her class had an interesting comment, "Defend, justify, and explain."



[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#28)
by fvw on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:08:51 AM EST

You still don't get my drift. What I'm saying is It doesn't matter if I kill myself or not. Do you have _any_ evidence for 'the soul', or consciousness etc?

[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 0) (#29)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:23:22 AM EST

I doubt my own existance, therefore I am capable of doubting my own existance, therefore I exist, because I am doubting my existance.

To put it as Descartes did, I think therefore I am. Very simple, very nice.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

nope (none / 0) (#30)
by fvw on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:27:37 AM EST

I doubt my own existance, therefore I am capable of doubting my own existance, therefore I exist, because I am doubting my existance.
First of all, I was contesting the fact that you have consciousness/soul, not the fact that you exist. (actually, I doubt existance too, but that's not relevant for this discussion). Secondly, you start from a premise you cannot prove, namely 'I doubt my own existance'. Can you prove that, or at least give evidence to make it beyond reasonable doubt? As it is, there is no reason to think either way.

To put it as Descartes did, I think therefore I am. Very simple, very nice.
And utter claptrap. Nice to put on a t-shirt, nothing more. Why does thinking imply that you exist? How have you come to the conclusion that you think?

[ Parent ]
Exist in what reality? (none / 0) (#31)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:34:15 AM EST

The point is that I, as a rational being, exist in idea-space. That much is beyond doubt, because I'm sure that I do doubt my own existance, and the simple utterance of that implies that I do.

But, to get beyond that point, what's the difference between a universe that reacts according to predictable rules and operates in predictable ways and one giant hallucination? None. That's the underlying truth - it could all not exist, but there's no difference between that and the physical universe we think exists, because it operates according to rules.

And what is conciousness, anyway? Until we define that, this is all beating around the bush. Here's 11223's definition of conciousness: an entity is concious if it is capable of devising definitions of conciousness. (Shamelessly stolen from the meta-Turing test.)

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Conciousness (none / 0) (#34)
by Mad Hughagi on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 01:45:25 PM EST

I would like to think that an entity is concious once it assertains that it exists.

As for determining the reality of a universe, well, that is all up to meta-physics anyways. Trying to argue the true reality is a moot point, I'm afraid. Just to add a spin to things though, since your hallucination universe would be construed in the mind of a being in the physical universe that we experience, couldn't it be considered a micro-universe of the greater universe? Hahahah... I guess I'm starting to get sketchy here.

I highly suggest that you read a book by David Bohm, entitled "Wholeness and the Implicate Order". It's cheap, but more to the point, it describes exactly what you have been debating in this thread.

It's mainly a book about the connections between physics, psychology and philosophy, but there is definately some stuff that will send you on a loop if you're just interested in blowing your mind. (It's not that mathematical either, I think if you have a decent understanding of things it shouldn't be a hard read).

One of the things that Bohm is a strong proponent of is the concept of a "oneness" that is inherent in everything - he shuns fragmentating concepts or isolating events/entities since he believes that everything is interconnected in some way shape or form. As such the universe takes on more of a character of flowing processes as opposed to concrete, isolated entities. Pretty cool outlook.


HUGHAGI INDUSTRIES

We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

nope (none / 0) (#47)
by fvw on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:52:51 PM EST

The point is that I, as a rational being, exist in idea-space. That much is beyond doubt, because I'm sure that I do doubt my own existance, and the simple utterance of that implies that I do.
Nope, you still don't get what I'm saying. I'm saying you can't prove anything beyond doubt, because you have nothing to start from. A proof can only transform one fact into another. (Ie: Axiom: a+b = b+a. Given the rules of inference, we can then prove that 1+2=2+1). However, axioms cannot be proven true, and hence there is no truth. (this is getting nice :-) )

[ Parent ]
Yes, and? (none / 0) (#53)
by 11223 on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 12:14:56 PM EST

So, the things we know to be true are the things that are defined to be true. Our universe is defined in terms of set operations, insomuch as all of mathematics is defined that way, and all of physics is described from mathematics. However, we do have the ability to define new truths, not true in our universe but true in another, and will have the ability to create universes from there.

Have you played at all with non-Abelian groups? 1+2 is not always equal to 2+1. The very fact that we can conceptualize a non-Abelian group and work with it (even though it is not true in our universe) speaks to the universality of creating said structures.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

nope (none / 0) (#58)
by fvw on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 11:49:59 AM EST

Nope, you still don't get what I'm saying. I'm saying you can't prove anything beyond doubt, because you have nothing to start from. A proof can only transform one fact into another. (Ie: Axiom: a+b = b+a. Given the rules of inference, we can then prove that 1+2=2+1). However, axioms cannot be proven true, and hence there is no truth.
So, the things we know to be true are the things that are defined to be true. Our universe is defined in terms of set operations, insomuch as all of mathematics is defined that way, and all of physics is described from mathematics. However, we do have the ability to define new truths, not true in our universe but true in another, and will have the ability to create universes from there.
Sorry, I don't care for 'what we know to be true'. What can be proven, is true. Nothing can be proven. Hence, there is no truth, as such.
Have you played at all with non-Abelian groups? 1+2 is not always equal to 2+1. The very fact that we can conceptualize a non-Abelian group and work with it (even though it is not true in our universe) speaks to the universality of creating said structures.
Nothing makes the 'reversibility' (there's a better word for this, but I can't think of it atm) of addition intrinsically linked to this universe. 'reversibility' is necessary to make our physics describe the universe reasonably (this is actually a bit of a leap here, since you need interpretation to actually such a thing as description, but we'll skip over that for the time being...), but that doesn't mean it's actually linked to our universe.

If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you read godel, escher, bach, by hoffstadter. Great book.

[ Parent ]

nope (sorry, subject generator stuck :-) ) (none / 0) (#48)
by fvw on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 03:58:50 PM EST

And what is conciousness, anyway? Until we define that, this is all beating around the bush. Here's 11223's definition of conciousness: an entity is concious if it is capable of devising definitions of conciousness. (Shamelessly stolen from the meta-Turing test.)
And what rule do you use to verify if it is a correct definition of consciousness? I can write a computer program that churns out random strings. These are just as valid as our definitions.

Secondly, I could write a program that does 'printf("an entity is concious if it is capable of devising definitions of conciousness.");'. You could say that it's not devising a way, it's just encoded in it. So what's the difference with us? The fact we give definitions is only a combination of what is encoded in us+environment.

Thirdly: I could write a program that churns out random strings, and one day, it'll get a correct (whatever that is) definition of consciousness. Does that make it conscious?

[ Parent ]
Characteristics of life (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by royh on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:47:18 PM EST

There are a couple formally defined characteristics of life that I have heard of.

Life is...

  • An anti-entropic force: Life creates order by consuming it from the environment and outputting entropy.

  • A self-perpetuating force: Life perpetuates itself, both by maintaining itself and by producing copies of itself.

  • Responsive to it's environment: It trys to stay alive.

But life as we think it isn't necessarily required. Just about any universe that produces complexity is going to be interesting (in a general sense of the word). Our universe, for example, has galaxys, black holes (allegedly), stars, planets. Earth has weather and tectonic activity.

Anyways, if you don't find the complexity required to form life interesting, then how can anything be interesting?

[ Parent ]

God Simulator (2.16 / 6) (#9)
by gunner800 on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 06:15:42 PM EST

My computer does the imagining for me. Or at least it will, once I'm done with my latest Crazy Project.

I play with artificial life. These little thingies start out very simple, with only the ability to eat and reproduce in response to certain stimulus. Eventually, they develop (evolve) more complex behaviors.

What do I want out of it? I like seeing them do complicated things that I would not have thought of. I like seeing them attain efficient survival and reproductive traits. Most of all, I like it when they outsmart me -- develop some behavior that I can't understand, but works.

And if they ever start worshipping me, I'll probably unplug them.

---Ignore poorly-chosen handle for purpose of gun-control discussions.

Hmm. (3.11 / 9) (#10)
by Dolgan on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 06:26:59 PM EST

Two questions:

1) What if I can't imagine being God? I'm a religious person, and I consider this beyond human ability. Surely, if you're an atheist or simply hold another opinion, you'll likely disagree. But I'm sure some others lurkers out there are slightly disturbed by this request, too Of course, I'm not saying you're wrong to post an article that goes against my religion. I believe in freedom of belief and speech, and if I was weak enough to have my inner belief's wavered by some guy who posts a story to k5, I'd go write Congress about getting South Park off the air. I'm just noting that it makes it difficult for me to get into this topic.

2) OK, so let's pretend I could imagine what being God is like. You say to imagine "you were God," meaning: to imagine I was God [at one time?]. Why, in this impossible world, am I not God anymore? What happened?

No, no, no (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 09:38:26 AM EST

In the English language, it's OK to use the past tense (were) when talking about an imagined situation, as this is.

Secondly, I didn't mean the God that created this universe as much as the God to another universe, e.g. that you had created another universe yourself and now were pretty much in control. To be honest, I'm not sure I see the religous objection to this thought experiment. Why would any religion prevent us from creating our own intelligences? Why would any God not be interested in seeing his creations create?

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Welcome to English 101 (2.00 / 1) (#42)
by pmk on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 05:01:24 PM EST

To say "imagine that you were God" is simply using the subjunctive mood. It is simply the correct way of saying "imagine that you are God", which is inferior usage. It has nothing to do with the past tense.



[ Parent ]

What I would do (3.42 / 7) (#11)
by loner on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 06:33:16 PM EST

First it all depends on what you're trying to accomplish with the universe. I could create a universe with a specific goal, e.g. to find all the prime numbers in my own universe. Then it is quite clear what I want from the inhabitants and I will exercise a lot of control over them to get my answer quickly.

But I suppose you're talking about a more abstract goal, to simply observe the interaction of the inhabitants. That depends too. Am I creating a universe simliar to ours? Then it is quite possible that the inhabitants become just as intelligent as I (or perhaps even more). In this case, would I remain the universe's god? Or put in another way, would the inhabitants know that I am god when they find me? Or care that I'm god?

And at which point of evolution would I lose control over the inhabitants? I'd guess I'll lose control before the inhabitants become as intelligent as myself. And I'll probably want to get the hell out of there at that time, fearing that they'll find me and punish me for all the flaws I've introduced in their universe ^_^.

But I think if I were to create a universe just for experimentation and observation, I would create one totally unlike mine. Personally, I would create one where electronic life-forms are king instead of biological ones (sorry if I'm using the wrong term here, you know what I mean). And I would make sure that the electronic inhabitants of the universe would have no access at all to biological resources. Biology would be sort of a 5th dimension in that universe. Then I could implant all kinds of biological instruments in my electronic universe, and I can observe and control the inhabitants to my heart's content.

Of course as you suggested, I would hope that the intelligent inhabitants would create their own universe, perhaps something that gives birth to life forms based on radio-waves or time or air-currents. Then the question becomes, would I have the ability to observe and control these sub-universes?

Why wouldn't I do it? (none / 0) (#40)
by greebor on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 04:31:28 PM EST

Why would a being capable of creating a universe do it? Desire to be worshipped, to terrorize, to be amused? All plausible reasons. In fact, any reason I can think of is plausible. Does this mean that any being capable of creating a universe would?

I find it hard to think of a reason not to do it. The best I can come up with is the possibility of feeling responsible for it. But in order for that to be the case, I would have to respect the creation. Even this wouldn't necessarily stop me, as long as I was confident that I could be responsible.

Great topic! It's always useful to think about these things. I leave with a title of a short story by Tolstoy that I heard about in Time magazine and thought was interesting:

God knows all, but waits

[ Parent ]

Flawed Thesis (3.11 / 9) (#12)
by gblues on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 06:37:38 PM EST

Imagine that you are a God, and that you have just created a Universe. This Universe is not just any Universe, but one that contains life (and more specifically, intelligent life.) What is it that you'd like to see the inhabitants accomplish? What goals would you like to set for them? What would be your expectations?

Okay.. I'm an all-powerful divine being, I've just created a universe, and I'm just NOW thinking of what I want it to do? Hello? Anyone home? Beuller?

This is exactly why humans are not gods: we don't think about what we've done until it's already been done. Now we have problems with pollution, holes in the ozone layer, global warming, Microsoft Windows, and Monica Lewinsky. ;)

If I WERE a god (and Lord knows I'm not), I'd think about those questions BEFORE I got started creating _anything_.

Lastly, as a nitpick, "intelligent" life is a misnomer. Amoeba are intelligent. A cow is intelligent. What you mean is "sentient" life.


... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
Nitpicking nitpicks... (3.00 / 4) (#15)
by Parity on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 07:55:29 PM EST

Sentient just means having senses, being a living, thinking being, such as a cow. (Arguably an amoeba, depending on which definition of sentient you use, or which definition of thinking.)

Intelligent is fine; 'sapient' might be better.

Parity Odd

[ Parent ]
Phhht... (2.00 / 2) (#17)
by CyberQuog on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 08:18:14 PM EST

How about some suspension of disbelief :P. I thought the question was a good one. Although, you are right.


-...-
[ Parent ]
Huh whah? (2.00 / 1) (#22)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 09:00:55 AM EST

Excuse me, but since nobody has even created a universe yet, I am thinking about this before we do it. Ever considered that what you say is exactly what I'm doing?

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Bzzt. Try again. (1.00 / 1) (#26)
by gblues on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:24:01 AM EST

Nope. Your hypothetical question clearly states the creation of the Universe as a given. We are told to assume that "[we] have just created a Universe," and then asked what we want our new toy to do. I am merely pointing out the flaw in this logic.

A house builder does not build the house first and only then stop to consider what the people who will live there might need. As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." So I will re-iterate my point: the thinking behind the posed question is bass-ackwards thinking and illustrates exactly why we aren't gods.


... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
[ Parent ]
Excuse me, but (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:52:40 AM EST

The entire point of this exercize was to get people thinking about what they would expect from the inhabitants before they even do it. Sure, I gave that we made the universe as a given. We haven't hit the on switch yet, or we hit pause as soon as we could tell intelligence developed. Now what? It's purely hypothetical.

Take your house builder - to consider the needs of its inhabitants, he must consider them living in an already-constructed house, and follow them in his mind and evaluate their needs. He hypothetically constructs a house, and then from there finds what the needs of the inhabitants are.

I would much rather make a declaration, but that doesn't fly too well with the K5 people. It's no problem, but it forces me into this hypothetical that you dislike. Here's my proclimations on this matter:

If we created a universe, its purpose would be to complete the recursion by its inhabitants creating a universe inside of it. Thus, our purpose in our universe is to do exactly what we would want the inhabitants of a universe we created to do. Thus, our goal in the universe is to complete the recursion by creating a universe, and to ensure that the universe we create completes the recursion.

Do you think this would even be accepted by the mostly sceptical K5 readers? Probably not. Hence the hypothetical.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Recursive universes (none / 0) (#35)
by YvRich on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 02:23:11 PM EST

If we created a universe, its purpose would be to complete the recursion by its inhabitants creating a universe inside of it. Thus, our purpose in our universe is to do exactly what we would want the inhabitants of a universe we created to do. Thus, our goal in the universe is to complete the recursion by creating a universe, and to ensure that the universe we create completes the recursion.

And who's to say that's not exactly what's going on now? That this is the Creator's purpose in creating a universe with us in it? And for that matter, perhaps God is just a guy in another universe which was created by a meta-God....

It's one way of looking at the statement that we're "created in God's image."

Disclaimer: These are not my beliefs, at least not all the time. ;-)

[ Parent ]

Hey hey.... (none / 0) (#36)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 02:25:03 PM EST

The socratic method does indeed work! By placing the right statements around, I can get you to discover exactly what it is I'm thinking at the time.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

The Socratic method is also . . . (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 02:56:38 PM EST

. . . the reason Socrates was served up a hemlock shake.

Be careful of whom you ask questions.

[ Parent ]

Hahaha! (none / 0) (#39)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 03:01:52 PM EST

LOL on reading that one. I don't think anybody is going to serve me a hemlock shake on K5.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Hold on a minute... (4.60 / 15) (#14)
by Sheepdot on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 07:48:57 PM EST

Let me go get my weed and re-read this!

Seriously though, I wonder if this would be a great topic to think about next time I get high.

----

Okay, so anyway, I think a universe I created would end up being pretty much like the one the Christian God created:

I'd been working on some research project for advanced AI and incorporated myself into a universe as an object with a variable of infinite "good". I'd defined the universe to be manipulated by me at any time, but within that I structured a "game" with rules in which I would create an individual who would be subordinate to me, but would eventually turn against me (because I wanted it to!) having it define the opposite of me, infinite levels of "bad".

Then, after having that individual turn and fight with my remaining beings against the beings he convinced to join him, I realized it was nothing but a 2-player game with advanced AI as an enemy.

No, I had to go deeper. I created a 3rd class of beings that (even though at any point I could directly manipulate them) I would not be able to manipulate, but instead would have to convince via various protocols that they should work with me, whereas my opponent would be able to use the same protocols to convince men they should not work with me.

Then, the game progressed, first with my only chance to interact directly with one individual, and then after that the person got to interact direct with my opponent and see if they were convinced by him.

After that, the different protocols needed to be used to interact with the beings, and the object of the game for myself was to see if there is one person who can live and die (excluding short age) and not have violated any of the stipulations that the opponent and myself agreed upon.

The object of the game for my opponent was to convince all individuals that they should never live by the stipulations and should never even consider them, by totally rejecting them.

As you can see, this game would have went on indefinately if I and my opponent hadn't sat down and agreed that we were getting nowhere and that it was time to introduce integrating ourselves into the game once more.

So we'd each pick a time where we'd get to join the game and go from there. But behold, the instance that I picked in the game actually ended up with me winning according to the first rules, which said that I had to have someone live and die without violating any of the stipulations, meaning that I won the game playing as myself!

But wouldn't you know it, the damn opponent got to bitching and I was about ready to hit the smite button when he made a pretty good argument: He hadn't gotten his chance to enter the game yet.

So we decided to have a waiting period where he would get a chance to enter the game and convince everyone to go against my stipulations, an impossible task to be honest.

Despite what you may think, I'm not an agnostic or atheist, I realize this might sound like a mockery of Christianity, but this is how I really imagine our universe could have been made. Sounds crazy, but I like it like that. It's got all the elements of a superb AI game, and can you imagine the title in the stores. "LIFE - Be a God and save your sims from your alter-ego (generated by new DNA analysis techniques!)"

Man, when's it coming out, btw? And can you play it over a LAN?




Comparison to our own world.. (3.20 / 5) (#18)
by CyberQuog on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 08:30:47 PM EST

I think it would be interesting to compare this mini-universse to our own. Which technologies are developed first? Do they start with the wheel, fire, quantom computing? It would really show how much of what we are is left up to random chance (aka luck, aka divine intervention or what have you). What moral's (if any) do the develop? Do they have a concept of religion? It seems that a lot of what we have isn't required for life, but nonetheless is important to us, like art. Would these intelligent beings develop art? BTW, I'm reading Stranger In A Strange Land, right now, and I'm thinking of the differances between the Martians and the Earthlings.
If I was the god of this world I would probably just watch what happened, and maybe assume a shape once in awhile (sleep with some hot mortal chicks).


-...-
A book you might like to read (3.33 / 6) (#19)
by Lionfire on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 12:48:37 AM EST

An interesting book which deals with this subject is "Permutation City" by Greg Egan. I won't go and spoil the plot for you (and I'd recommend reading the book before looking through spoiler-filled reviews).

I'm sure there are plenty of other novels, etc, that have covered this topic, but I for this one particularly interesting and thought-inducing while not being too corny or unbelievable.

[ blog | cute ]
Further Reading (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by SightUnseen on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:53:13 PM EST

I'd recommend Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad (especially the Michael Kandel translation). IIRC, it contains a short story called "How Trurl's Perfection Led to No Good" (or something similar). It looks at a toy universe constructed for a robot ruler and delivers excellent entertainment for a small investment of time.

On Greg Egan, I'd have to say that he has an inelegant style at times (a pity because I like some of his ideas), which makes him an unenjoyable read (your mileage may vary), so I'd advise borrowing someone else's copy before purchase (although he has been nominated for the Hugo).

On the other hand, the covers of his books are very pretty (I like butterflies) :).

[ Parent ]

And on the seventh day, He made me (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by Beorn on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 05:46:49 AM EST

I did a neural network / GA project with a robot programming game last spring, and what really kept me coming back and fiddling endlessly with all those parameters and network structures for months was the idea of creating something that would analyze the situation as I would if I was a tiny 2D robot fighter. Starting out pre-programmed only with the rules of the game, it would gain the same knowledge as I had from watching it.

There were many tactics I could have hardcoded in the AI, but that would have felt like cheating. Duplicating knowledge is easy, duplicating learning and analyzing skills is not. The project was as much a success as it could be, given the circumstances, but I think I know what I would do if there were more advanced AI tools available, (such as, say, omnipotence): create something in my image, which starting from scratch with only the basic rules of the game would analyze the world as I do, eventually becoming me.

Yeah I know, there's an old-fashioned way to try this, but bear with my mad-professor ramblings here. I've just discovered a disturbing connection between God, sex and programming -- not bad, eh?

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Nifty! (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:02:54 AM EST

The funny thing is, is that no matter what universe you put your creations in, they will share a common ground with you of the scientific method (scientific rationalism). After all, they will have to make generalizations, move from inductive to deductive reasoning, and use other tools to deal with the world. And as soon as they start to anaylize their own thought, they're thinking like us.

Hey, that gives me a nifty idea for an article....

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Piers Anthony (none / 0) (#46)
by sugarman on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 02:55:32 PM EST

As much as I cannot read his work now, I still enjoy Book 1 of Incarnations of Immortailty, "On a Pale Horse". I'm thiking of the bits where Gaia describes to Death the various patterns of logic (lateral, parallel, deductive, and then a cognititve leap).

Anyways, if you are aware that Scientific Rationalism is the basis for your logic, and are aware of other types, then you can program other agents to act based on accordance to those other belief systems.

eg. They could be made to follow a rule-based system which matches the tenets of their religion. (ie. The Ten Commandments) All other things being equal, your creatures will not break these rules or face their Lord's wrath. The logical path they might follow outside of this system would probably be different than one based on scientific rationalism.

Just a thought, of course.

As for the main question of the topic? What would I do? well, create a planet out of fragments of worlds and then gather the greatest heroes to duke it out for the ultimate prize. These wars would be kept secret from the general populace, of course. If it proves really popular, I might even do a sequel.

--sugarman--
[ Parent ]

Mandatory joke (3.00 / 4) (#21)
by finkployd on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 08:28:30 AM EST

God, Root, what is difference?

Finkployd

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Ha! (none / 0) (#32)
by 11223 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 11:43:37 AM EST

Read my next article, and you'll see that there is none!

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Theodore Sturgeon's Microcosmic God (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 10:05:33 AM EST

Theodore Sturgeon in his short story Microcosmic God (Thanks Garc!) uses this very idea for a plot.

Great story, Sturgeon rocks my world. If any of you are unfamiliar with Theodore Sturgeon, both his short stories and novels are incredible. His short story It was the seminal SF story that inspired comics like The Heap, The Incredible Hulk and Swamp Thing.

Besides Sturgeon's Law is the single most descriptive insightful assertion I've ever seen about anything touched by the human race. (For those of you that don't know Sturgeon's law humbly alleges that: 90% of everything is crap.) The only complaint I have of Sturgeon's law is that it is likely to be off by about 9.9%. (Anyone care to guess in which direction I think he was off?)

Sturgeon's Law (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by rat on Sat Dec 23, 2000 at 10:34:35 PM EST

> Besides Sturgeon's Law is the single most descriptive insightful
> assertion I've ever seen about anything touched by the human race.
> (For those of you that don't know Sturgeon's law humbly alleges
> that: 90% of everything is crap.) The only complaint I have of
> Sturgeon's law is that it is likely to be off by about 9.9%.
> (Anyone care to guess in which direction I think he was off?)

Actually, if you remember that Sturgeon's Law applies to _everything_,
well, that takes care of your 9.9% and more. 90% of everything is
crap; that leaves 10% that isn't crap, at first; but 90% of that is
crap too... etc.


[ Parent ]
Torture (3.70 / 10) (#33)
by SIGFPE on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 01:11:09 PM EST

I'd be really mean.

I'd make them work to earn their keep.

I'd make them worship me and if they refused I'd torture them.

I would torture them intellectually by creating a universe that looked like it wasn't actually created - and yet torture those individuals who didn't believe in me, the creator.

I'd cause indiscriminate suffering to everyone alike, old, young, whoever. But I'd torture anyone who denied that it was indiscriminate.

I'd arrange that a minority people had access to the most resources and the majority had to get by with next to none and I'd enjoy watching the ensuing fight! Better than watching wrestling!

I'd invent particularly horrible diseases and have fun watching how they spread through society.

Even more fun...my creatures would be designed so that they like torturing each other so that there'd be torture going on even if I was busy doing something else.

Ha ha! I'd have such fun.

The cruellest thing of all is this...I'd design my creatures so that they believed everything had some kind of meaning. How entertaining it would be to se them trying to figure out why all this stuff is happening when it's just me having fun.
----
YHVH
SIGFPE

Divine behavior (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by pmk on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 04:54:43 PM EST

I would, of course, stay completely hands-off and watch and wait.

After two or three generations of stellar life cycles, say 12 to 16 billion years, enough heavy atoms would have been constructed to coalesce into a rocky sphere orbiting a newborn sun within the narrow range in which water exists in a liquid state. With the assistance of tidal effects from a large satellite, perhaps, and the static discharges from lightning, some molecular pattern will form that influences its environment in such a way that replicates the pattern. More sophisticated self-replicating molecular patterns will emerge once the environment is saturated with the simple ones. As competition for resources intensifies, the side-effects of these molecular patterns on their environments will grow stronger. Some of these patterns will hit on the trick of partial absorption and cooperation; the patterns will begin to exchange bits of themselves; and aggregate organisms will appear.

Small incremental random mutations that serve to increase the number of viable offspring will accumulate and various forms of aggregate organisms will appear and disappear. Eventually one will have sufficient information processing capability to mimic nontrivial behavior and communicate digital patterns encoded in sound with sufficient fidelity. These digital patterns will themselves have side-effects on their environments that serve to enhance or inhibit their replication in those environments, just like the molecular patterns that appeared earlier.

One complex of these digital patterns will be the idea that I exist and created the universe for a purpose. I will be characterized as being an unreasonably powerful member of one subgroup of the aggregate organisms, and the assumed fact of my existence will serve to undergird oppressive power structures, repression of knowledge, child mutilation, and wild potlatching of resources to further the propagation of the idea of me. These side-effects will be highly successful in keeping this digital pattern active in the population.

At this point, having been created entirely by my creation, I can stop observing, for I will have successfully self-reproduced myself.



Maybe gods aren't so different (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by ciaran on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:25:11 PM EST

That's actually quite interesting ... straying off the original point a bit but if you treat a god like any other life-form, then their ultimate purpose in life is to reproduce themselves ... so the purpose of a universe created by a being is to create beings capable of and willing to create new universes, thereby turning themselves into gods (by the definition being used here anyway).

This is complicated a bit by the fairly strange family structures this would create - your children are contained inside a universe created by you, and their children are also inside it. It seems this would give the original creator a lot of power over the child creators, as the structure of the first universe created would define the possibilities of creating new universes inside them. Or, is a new universe entirely separate from the universe which caused it to be created ? Are they inside each other or does the new one just spring up beside the old one ? I know there must be some connection between the 2, but is it just a wormhole-type connection between 2 separate universes or is one actually inside the other ?

I don't know nearly enough physics to answer this, and I suspect this article is one of idle speculation anyway (not that that's a bad thing, just different from making actual predictions), but I do think it's a very interesting topic.

So the creator of this universe (God) created it with the purpose of allowing us to create universes, and we will be a successful universe if we manage to create new universes. Maybe if/when it is actually possible to do this, we will understand our own universe a lot better ...

...or maybe I'm just up too late ... :)

[ Parent ]
Walk away from it (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by turtleshadow on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 02:01:58 AM EST

If were of such immense Power the only thing to do would be to walk away -- anything else would be anticlimatic. Humanity is much too deeply into the voyeristic and narcissism for its own good --
  • everyone has to know what they "want"
  • everyone has to know "who" they are
  • everyone has to know "why are you here"

Is this the way to start a new Century?
Regards,
Turtleshadow

So you're Lorien, then? (4.00 / 2) (#45)
by PenguinWrangler on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 06:45:46 AM EST

everyone has to know what they "want"
everyone has to know "who" they are
everyone has to know "why are you here"


That's Babylon 5 surely...

"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]
I rate all B5 fans high (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by turtleshadow on Mon Dec 25, 2000 at 11:57:22 PM EST

For having guts to acknowledge your watching many episodes of philosophical musings veiled in special effects and obscured by mass consumerism ever 15 minutes or so you get a 5!

viva <a href=http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/find/Usenet/latest/54.html">JMS who not only asked but did what the original poster asked.
Turtleshadow

[ Parent ]
I rate all B5 fans high (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by turtleshadow on Mon Dec 25, 2000 at 11:57:54 PM EST

For having guts to acknowledge your watching many episodes of philosophical musings veiled in special effects and obscured by mass consumerism ever 15 minutes or so you get a 5!

viva JMS who not only asked but did what the original poster asked.
Turtleshadow

[ Parent ]
Not much. (2.50 / 2) (#49)
by Robert Hutchinson on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 04:42:53 PM EST

One expectation: for the species not to die off (short of the death of the universe, of course).

No specific goals.

One hope: that the largest possible number of them lead happy and fulfilled and (in their universe, at least) meaningful lives.

In other words, I'd want the same things in my created universe that I want in this universe. Is that sappy enough? :)

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

I attack this problem backwards from you. (none / 0) (#54)
by 11223 on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 12:16:20 PM EST

I'm trying to figure out what I want from my simulated inhabitants, and then define my goals according to that. This seems to be the opposite of the way you're attacking this. Interesting.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

If I were God (1.00 / 1) (#56)
by reverend_greg on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:38:54 PM EST

If I were God there would be no explicit sex on T.V.
Like little Opie eating pie when he made it with Aunt Bea

If I were God thou shall not worship false Billy Idols
And thou shall add the Book Of Flavor Flav to the Bible
Thou shall make fun of Hindus thou shall not make a "Speed 2"
If I were God that's what I'd do Heavens no

Hell yeah
Hell yeah
Hell yeah
Hell yeah

If I were God I'd get a bunch of slaves to do everything
Norwegian lesbians that feed me grapes and know how to sing

If I were God thou shall not wear tube socks with Flip-Flops
Thou shall sit and thou shall spin thou shall even wife swap
Thou shall resist the Olsen Twins thou shall not cut "Footloose"
If I were God that's what I'd do Heavens no

Hell yeah
Hell yeah
Hell yeah
Hell yeah

And when they nail my pimpled ass to the cross
I'll tell them I found Jesus that should throw them off
He goes by the name Jesus and steals hubcaps from cars
Oh Jesus can I borrow your crowbar?
To pry these God damn nails out they're beginning to hurt
Crucified and all I got was this lousy tee shirt
"I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" I'll sing as I'm flogged
Yeah that's what I would do if I were God
So vote for me for Savior and you'll go to Heaven
Your lame duck Lord is like Kevin Spacey in "Seven"
With creepy threats of H-E-Double-Hockey-Stick
You just can't teach an old God new tricks
But would I be a good Messiah with my low self-esteem?
If I don't believe in myself would that be blasphemy?
Just sport some crummy "holier than thou" facade
Yeah that's what I would do if I were God


A universe is not a bucket (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by KindBud on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:54:43 PM EST

It is not a container at all. The universe cannot contain within it another universe. By definition the universe within would still be part of the original universe, not a new universe unto itself.

If another universe exists, it cannot possibly be observed. If it could be observed, it would be part of this universe.

All the posts here that assumed this fallacy are hereby voided by the logic police.

--
just roll a fatty

Imagine that you were God... | 59 comments (58 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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