Are we living in a simulated reality? | Alex Abbott | Skillshare

Are we living in a simulated reality?

Alex Abbott, I like to think!

Are we living in a simulated reality?

Alex Abbott, I like to think!

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5 Lessons (50m)
    • 1. Introduction to the Course

    • 2. The Simulation Argument

    • 3. The Computational Theory of Mind

    • 4. Are we all dreaming?

    • 5. Can we ever know we're in a simulation?

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About This Class

Are we living in a computer simulation? How would we know we're living in a simulation if we were? These are just some of the things we're going to look at in this course. This is some extremely interesting philosophy.

We're going to begin by looking at the simulation argument by Nick Bostrom. This is the argument that will be the central thesis of this course. We will them move on to look at an interesting crique of it from the view of simulating consciousness. We shall then look at some more tangent issues such as the idea we could all be dreaming. We shall then conclude by looking at whether or not we could ever know if we're in simulation. 

The lesson plan looks as follows: 

1. The Simulation Argument

2. The Computational Theory of Mind 

3. Could we all just be dreaming? 

4. Could we ever know if we're living in a simulation? 

Be sure to leave a comment or a review on this course and make sure you check out some of my related courses. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Alex Abbott

I like to think!


Hello, I'm Alex. I have a BA in Philosophy from the University of Nottingham and am currently in the process of getting an LLM in Law. In the future I would love to pursue academic studies further and go on to do a PhD. I have a keen interest in teaching people what I have learned in fun and interesting ways. My primary expertise include Metaphysics, Logic, the Philosophy of Mind and Ethics. I shall be making courses on some fun and interesting areas of Philosophy. 

My Current Courses include: 


- Can Computers Think? Introduction to the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence.

- Who am I? Introduction to Personal Identity

- A basic introduction to stoicism

- Introduction to Formal Logic

- Introduction to the P... See full profile

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1. Introduction to the Course: Hello and welcome to this course. And in this course we're gonna be asking the question, are we living in a simulated reality? And it's gonna be a very interesting choir niche philosophical course that we're going to look at here. And this has to quite a lot to talk about in these few lessons. But in this, we're just gonna take a little introduction, really what we mean, and really outline what we're going to be doing in these next few lessons. So we're gonna take an introduction to the idea of simulated realities. And we're going to recap on the idea of similarity simulated realities from a previous course. You don't have to watch the previous course because we only touched on very briefly, everything that we covered in the previous course is going to be covered in more detail in this one sees as it was only a few slides at the end of the course. And we're going to look at the outline of the content of this course. So really the central question that we're asking is, does reality exist? And thus seems to be quite a daunting task to try and find some kind of answer to this question. But we can really, we can really look at linking the questions together. So we've got does reality exists? And if it doesn't, Does that mean we're living in a computer simulation or we could just ask these questions in isolation. All we live in, if we were living in a computer simulation, how would we know? Thus another interesting question that we can't really, we got to really work out. Can we ever know if anything is real or not? If we're real or not, if anybody else is real or not. Now this is a very, very, very old philosophical question. And these, these questions date back to Plato and Descartes and further, and further back. So really we're asking questions that are, aren't new questions here. But we're, we're applying quite contemporary philosophy by looking at the idea of as being part of a computer simulation. So, yeah, these are the questions we're going to look at in this course. We're going to look at how we're going to answer these questions and what arguments we can find for and against any of the propositions that we have stated here. So the idea of the simulated reality is a thesis that reality could be simulated. It's very simple. It's a simple as that. So could we possibly be living in a reality that is simulated? Is it's all just virtual reality. So really there's a lot of philosophical debate on this topic because it fundamentally is a question that can't be expressly decided one way or the other. Ultimately, this kind of debate traces its roots back to Plato in his Republic, looking at things like the allegory of the cave. And you've also got Descartes's meditation's where he uses what he called the methodological skepticism, which was a sort of a way in which he could try to work out what he can know is real for sure. Okay. So we went further and further back in and trace it all the way back to basically come into conclusion that only the only thing he can know for sure is real and exists is him. Because he thinks about these things and to think requires a thinker. Therefore, I think therefore I am. This is the famous, the famous quote that he outlined. In this course. We're going to be looking at the more contemporary philosophy on this topic. We're not gonna be told him very much on Plato and Descartes and very old philosophy. Because I feel like the US that's been more of covered ground if you want to, of course, on the older epistemological subject of reality when it comes to Plato and then looking at how Descartes uses his methodological skepticism. That's perfectly fine, but in this course we're not going to be really touching on that a lot. We're gonna be touching on the, the, the proper up-to-date philosophy on this. And looking at the idea of computer simulations and whether or not we're a part of them. So as an outline, what we're gonna do is we're going to look at the following philosophical issues. We're going to look at first the main thesis for this entire question. Are we living in a simulated reality, which is the simulation argument? And then we're going to look at the idea of the mind as a computer. So the computational argument or the computational theory of mind, we're gonna take a little sort of a brief discussion on seeing the mind as a computer. We're going to look at the Dreaming Argument, which is a very interesting one we're going to start with and then get into a little bit of a tangent by looking at the philosophy of dreams, OK. And we'll go here now, be drawing upon our knowledge of the film Inception as well to try and work out some of the, some of the interest in philosophical conundrums that come from analyzing dreams and the philosophy of dreams and what it means to dream. And then we're going to really conclude the whole thing by asking, How do we know we're living in a simulated reality? And we're gonna be using evidence and, and knowledge from all of the previous lessons. And really trying to find some kind of conclusion. Because you could then come to the end of this course, realizing that maybe we are living in a computer simulation, or maybe it's definitely the case that we're not. Specifically in the next lesson, we will look at the simulation argument. Feel free to add any questions and discussions on the discussion section below. I'm all for having a discussion, answering any questions that you might want to ask. You know, getting a little debate going, trying to work out, really. We're trying to work out whether or not we're living in a computer simulation. So it's a very interesting thing that we can start to discuss in the discussion section below. So all these things you can do down below. 2. The Simulation Argument: Hello and welcome back. We're going to be looking at the simulation argument in this lesson. And hopefully by the end of this lesson, your mind will be blown because I'm going to try and convince you that we are living in a computer simulation. And we're gonna be using the argument from Nick Bostrom, who is a contemporary philosopher to explain why we think that we are living in a computer simulation. Okay, so hopefully I'm going to try and convince you. I'm also gonna provide a little bit of, a little bit of a counterpoint as well to see if that can maybe sway your opinion as well. But you're gonna come away from this lesson hopefully with your mind slightly blown. Okay, so that's what, that's what the point of this lesson is. So we're going to introduce the simulation argument. We're going to really formalize it in its content, you know, in its contemporary philosophical form. They just go look at some criticisms of the argument. So hopefully by this point here, you are going to be very confused. You're gonna be questioning whether or not your real, whether or not the, you know, the foods you're eating or the drinks you're drinking are also real and it's gonna be hopefully are bringing back down to earth. And when we look at the criticism, because no philosophical argument is foolproof, there's always somebody who can find a criticism where the argument, and that's what's beautiful about philosophy, is there's really no end to it. And we'll look at uses for the simulation argument. So it has an introduction. In this lesson, we're going to do a lot of detail about the simulation argument. If you watch the course that I did, the very first course I ever made, which was can computers think an introduction to the philosophy of AI? You'll be familiar with this argument already because we touched on it very, very briefly at the end of the course. Because really we're looking at the ideas of computers and the philosophy of computers. And here we're gonna go into a lot more detail. And we're also going to present some criticisms because in the last, in the last course on the philosophy of ally, we didn't actually present an additive and presented any criticisms of the simulation argument here we'll go present some criticisms. So what is the simulation argument? Simply put, the argument proposes that all of reality is just part of an artificial simulation. By artificial, We can mean computer. What we would understand as a computer. This means that the earth, the stars, the moon, the whole universe, everything is part of this simulation. So this was an argument that was popularized by, contemporarily, by Nick Bostrom, who is the philosopher we're going to be drawing our knowledge from here. So let's explain why he thinks and why some people think that we are living in a computer simulation. Let's see if you can, you know, encourage you to follow along with this argument. And before we look at the criticisms, try and think about any kind of criticism yourself before, because that's a great way of doing the philosophy. You know, just having a look at the arguments and thinking what could be wrong with, what could we argue against dare to show that it's not entirely foolproof? So Nick motion in his work, are you living in a computer simulation? Now? Very catchy title explains that. In the future, we expect to see computer power and computer processing to increase. And for this increase to be probably or possibly exponential. So if we look at the ideas of computers from when they first began, really early on, they've only gotten more and more powerful as the years go up. So this means there is some point in the future. There'll be a computer, possibly a quantum computer, that's capable of simulating an artificial reality. There's nothing. We're not trying to, here. We're not trying to say that there definitely will be this and computer in the future. What we're saying is that there is a possibility, it's not impossible for this to occur in the future. And I think most people would agree with that. Most people would say yeah in the future. There's nothing really. If computers carry on getting more and more advanced and more and more powerful, there's nothing really stopping it from being able to simulate an artificial reality. Like imagine the Sims games, but completely realistic, almost indistinguishable from normal reality. So, yeah, artificial reality could be simulated flawlessly with AIs and MPC's or anything, absolutely anything. So Bostrom asks us to suppose that these simulated people are also conscious. So maybe in the future we can simulate consciousness. And I am planning on doing a course on, on, on consciousness more specifically. But let's just assume that what it means for something to be conscious, we can then program that into a simulation. So if they're conscious, we can conceive of a world where the beings that are in this simulation are exactly the same, exactly like us. There's no distinguishable difference except for the fact that they're in a simulation and we're not. So therefore, it is possible to argue that these things could be in a simulation. So that, sorry, it's possible to argue that we could be these beings within the simulation. There's, if there are completely the same as us and complete and there's no way to distinguish between the two, then it's possible that we're in a simulation right now. Now that doesn't sound very convincing. At the moment. You might think it's possible, but there's nothing really to make this likely to be the case. We want to go from suggesting those possible. Because I think most people would argue, yes, it's totally possible that we could be living in a simulation. There's nothing to say that we're not, we want to get from that stage to then going. Well, it's not only possible, but it's also very likely to be the case. And this is where both Jim things get very clever. So if we're, if we can form a computer simulation that is completely indistinguishable from something like the real world, then it's likely that the people within that simulation also create a computer simulation. And that can be simulation is also completely indistinguishable from them and from us. Okay, so in that simulation, they also create a simulation. And now we've suggested that it's possible for there to be an almost infinite chain of simulation, of simulations within each other. Because if it is possible for them to create a completely indistinguishable simulation to them. Then it's possible for the simulation within there to watch her career simulation and simulation and to create a simulation and credit and so on and so on and so on. So we handled with this infinite chain of simulation, OK, computer simulations, all, yeah, all completely indistinguishable from each other. So this is what we have, this is what we have discovered now. So now we have accepted that as possible for there to be this infinite chain of computer simulations that are completely indistinguishable from each other. Well then, now we ask the question, what are the chances that we're the ones living in the non simulation world. Because, because if, if statistically there is a near infinite number of computer simulations, the likelihood that we're the one, they'll almost a prime mover that the first reality and when not in one of the simulations is very, very, very, very, very small. And it's the same for every, everyone in this simulation and everyone in this simulation that people are arguing for, they're all just as likely or just as unlikely to be the first, first simulation. And this is fundamentally Bostrom's argument. So rarely can we think of any response to this. Because right now is basically making an argument. He's trying to show you that it's possible for this infinite chain of simulations to exist. And I think most of us, if you just follow his line of reasoning, would accept that. Yeah, it's possible for the, for that to exist. It's not impossible. It's nothing impossible. So far as we have seen, there is nothing impossible to show that that can't be the case. But then we go. Okay, then well, if this if it said we just assume that it's possible for now. What is the statistical likelihood? Wasn't it's a statistical likelihood that we're living in the reality, the one reality, rather than the near infinite simulations or the billions simulations on a million simulations, anyone is unlikely, okay, unless there's two simulations and it's 50-50. It's unlikely that we're living in the real world. So there are critiques of the simulation hypothesis. There are their arguments against there, and some of them are relatively convincing. And so many philosophers have argued that beings don't have the same kind of conscious experiences when they're in a simulation as they are in reality. So this one is targeting the fact that we probably can't even ever simulate. Consciousness. That is the, that is the art conveys something fundamentally different that you cannot simulate within for consciousness. So that's an argument that you can have. You'd have to explain what those things are. And if we, when I come onto doing a course on consciousness, will explore what some of these people think these things are there or what called, what we call a physicalist, who believe that consciousness is something that is physical within the brain. And then you've got the dualist who says that consciousness is something they separate, they sort of non-physical, that isn't part of the brain, but it's a sum of something extra. So many philosophers think that, well, we can't simulate consciousness. So this simulation argument falls at the first hurdle. You could also say that we are in fact the first generation of simulations. And all these simulations are yet to exist. So because if we think about what we're doing in our simulation right now, if we're in a simulation, we haven't actually been able to replicate a completely indistinguishable from humans simulation near me now to do that yet, so maybe we're just the first generation in the real world and in the future we're going to be the ones that start this infinite chain of simulations. Like there's nothing to say that that isn't true. There's nothing that stops that. There's nothing, there's nothing that really makes the simulation hypothesis more true than this, than this, than this proposition here. Yeah, since to say there's nothing, there's nothing against this, then there is just as convincing as the simulation argument. There's also the Shaun and Carol critique. The Cosmologist Sean Carroll suggests that the Simulation Hypothesis will always just lead to a contradiction. So he suggests that if a civilization is capable of performing simulations, then it will be likely to perform many simulations. Which implies that we're most likely the lowest level of the simulation since we're yet to perform a simulation. Because you've just been, you know, human development where yet to be able to perform a simulation that is indistinguishable from humanity. Or even we yet to perform a simulation that's conscious. Or we're not yet to even really get strong artificial intelligence. So if we're a civilization capable of performing some simulation, then we're likely to perform many, which implies that we are most like the lowest level. So where the bottom of this long chain. This contradicts the assumption that it's easy for us to fussy that advanced civilizations can most likely perform simulations because it's not easy to foresee that because where the bottom of this simulation, where the bottom of this chain. So it's impossible for us to ever know if this is even a possibility. So fundamentally contradicts the idea that we can be living in a computer simulation. Thus, the Shaun and Carl critique them a little bit complicated, a little more complicated than the other two. But it's still, it's still a very interesting critique. And really this is where I'd turn it over to you. So really what do you think about these arguments? Is the simulation argument convincing? Was your mind actually blown at the start of this lesson? Are there any convincing critiques? Any of the critiques that I mentioned in any of them convincing. And really just let me know in the discussion section. And whenever log if you got any questions that you need to answer and then let me know that as well. In the next lesson, we're gonna be looking at the idea of computational ism or the idea of the computational theory of mind. 3. The Computational Theory of Mind: In this lesson, we're going to take a detour and have a look at the computational theory of mind. Now this is very important when we're looking at computer simulations. And we're going to start to really outline just how difficult it is going to be to really kind of come to any kind of definitive answer regarding computer simulations. So we're going to outline and explain the computational theory of mind. We're gonna look at how it relates to computer simulations. Then we will look at criticism, but then we're going to explain why the criticism doesn't really solve the problem or show anything that we don't already know. So fundamentally, what is the computational theory of mind? It's the idea that the mind is like a computational system. It's a way we can represent understanding of the mind. We can think of the idea that the mind, things like computer. Ok, we can describe the workings of the mind as almost like an information processing system. And so therefore, computational ism is the theory that cognition is a form of computation. That our brains work like a computer. And if our brains were lucky computer, then how does this, Ours is really relevant to the simulation argument. Well, if we think back to the first criticism of the simulation argument, we find that it was attacked on the grounds that it may not be able to simulate consciousness. That was the first, that was the first criticism. And it was really the main criticism of the simulation argument because it suggested that, well, the idea of there being a simulation that is indistinguishable from the real world is actually impossible because a computer cannot ever simulate consciousness. But we know that simulations are able to simulate physical objects accurately. You've looked at CGI in movies and stuff. We can see that we can simulate whole worlds with relative accuracy. But what the argument that was saying is, we can't simulate consciousness. But so yeah, is ever, ever possible to simulate consciousness in the same way as we simulate, you know, a volcano. Awesome thing. Okay? Well, if we accept the computational theory of mind, then yes, we obviously can. Because the computational theory of mind states that the mind is just like a computer. And so it can be represented just like a computer. And if we can describe the mind like a computer system, then it is perfectly possible to simulate it. In the same ways we simulate physical objects. We can simulate computer systems within simulations. So if the mind is just a, just a more complex form of computer, then we can simulate the mind and therefore simulate consciousness. So therefore, it's crucial for establishing a theoretical possibility for a simulated reality. So what started out as possibly the main criticism of the simulation argument can be shown to be false, can be shown to be not entirely convincing when we accept the computational theory of mind. So what we've got to do now is accept the computational theory of mind. And that's where we start looking at the criticisms. So one main criticism comes from this gentleman here, John Searle. And this is known as the Chinese room argument. And it's something we touched on in the Lessons on AI and a lot more detail, but I'm going to go over it briefly here. Because what the Chinese room argument stays is that it is impossible for a computer to be artificially intelligent, to possess strong artificial intelligence. And he argues by using this thought experiment, which is the Chinese room argument. So the idea is, imagine where we have a room with a human in the room, human being in the room, an English-speaking person in the room with a bunch of Chinese characters like the letters in Chinese, and an instruction book for how to put those characters together. Now imagine if somebody who was Chinese was to post a letter in Chinese through the door in the room. They don't know who's in the room or what's in the room or anything. They just post a letter through the door. There's Chinese. The person in the Chinese room. Ok. Will then use the instruction books that the instruction book is an English, the English instruction book to find the characters that's on the latter and to create an appropriate response. Okay, the instructions tell him how to respond in Chinese. He then passes a letter back and nicer response. And to the people who are speaking Chinese outside the Chinese room, they think that whoever or whatever is in that room can speak and understand Chinese because they're having a conversation in Chinese. However, we wouldn't say that the English-speaking person has any understanding of Chinese because all they're doing is manipulating the symbols using an instruction manual. And that is what effectively is John sills argument. He's suggesting that computers work in a very similar way. Because there is no way all the computer is doing is simulating consciousness, simulating an image of artificial intelligence. Because they're just manipulating the symbols. They're not actually simulating intelligence. So therefore, the idea that it could simulate consciousness in a way that was indistinguishable from actual consciousness is very unconvincing. And also the idea because simply all they're doing is manipulating symbols and using instructions to appear as if they're conscious. However, this does have some criticisms when we're talking about the simulation argument. Well, in general, their criticisms of the Chinese room argument. But I think some of you would have touched on the fact that all we're trying to do is simulate consciousness in a way that is indistinguishable from, you know, from the real world. And to the Chinese speakers outside the room. The person who was inside the room is speaking Chinese in a way that is indistinguishable from Somebody who actually understands the language. So even if a computer can only simulate intelligence and therefore consciousness or anything like that, by manipulating symbols and using syntax rather than semantic understanding. Then arguably, that's fine because if all they're doing is if it's indistinguishable from real world, it doesn't matter how I got there, as long as it is simulating consciousness indistinguishably. So that's a criticism of silver argument. That's a criticism of sills argument when we apply it to the idea of a simulated consciousness. Because Searle argues against the computational theory of mind and the idea that our mind can be like a computer and a computer can be like a mind. There are criticisms with John cells argument in general. And you can have a look at those if you go over to my course on the philosophy of artificial intelligence. But when it comes to the idea of consciousness, so doesn't seem to be saying anything if anything so seems to be supporting the view that a computer can simulate consciousness in a way that is indistinguishable from anything that is in the real world. Because YOU saying effectively, is that all the computer does is give the impression that he can do in the Chinese room is give the impression that you speaking Chinese. But if that's indistinguishable, when, when the Chinese speakers are speaking to him. Then that is effectively test, passing the test for the idea of being in a simulated reality. So the criticisms aren't particularly strong. The criticism here by the, by John Searle isn't particularly strong in this case. You could also say that it doesn't really disprove anything about at least some part of, of our world being simulated. If we cannot simulate consciousness, let's assume for now that the computational theory of mind is false and it has been debunked. So we can't simulate consciousness, which is, which is fine. But does that mean that we still can't be living in a simulation? This brings us to the question of the idea of our brain in a vat, the brain in the vat argument. The argument that we cannot be in a simulation, because we cannot simulate consciousness doesn't explain why we cannot be in a conscious brain, in a vat with the environment around us being simulator. So we may be able to reject the notion that we are completely simulated this week, please, simulators. But we can't reject the idea that our brain with our conscious physical brain in a vat. And we are simulating. And something is simulating the rest of the world. Does that make sense? That makes sense to everybody? So even if we reject the idea that, you know, boast rooms are quite strong notion that we're all in a simulation on the basis that a computer cannot simulate consciousness. And if we reject the computational theory of mind that states that we could simulate consciousness, reject both of those. We still cannot reject the idea that we are a brain in a vat. There is a conscious physical brain that has consciousness and that the things that we can simulate the physical world, CGI wherever is what's being simulated. And it also doesn't rule out the idea that we're all just dreaming because that's a similar kind of state to being a brain in a vat. The conscious brain is dreaming. We cannot reject any of these ideas. And so really we have to go a bit deeper. So in summary, the main critique of the simulation argument may never be able to simulate consciousness, ok? But this critique can be solved if we accept the computational theory of mind. However, even if we don't accept the computational theory of mind, which there are debates for and against that we could still just be a brain-in-a-vat or we could just be breach. Could there could just be dreaming. Which brings us to our next lesson, which is, oh, we'll just dreaming that dream argument. Okay? And this is really, we're getting into the sort of circular reasoning that goes behind this idea of, of, of being a simulation. I think you'll get to the point where you realize that we can't actually ever know if we're dreaming or not, or if we're in a simulation or not. 4. Are we all dreaming?: In this penultimate lesson, we're going to have a look at the idea that we might all just be dreaming. That could be the answer to the problem about whether or not we're in a simulation. And fundamentally, this is where it gets a little bit more complex, more complicated. And we're gonna go full circle at the end, by the end of this lesson. So really this is the, this is the, how much fun this kind of philosophy is. So specifically in this lesson, we're going to recap everything. We're going to see what the story is so far. And then we're going to just ask ourselves, Are we all dreaming? Is that really just the answer to the problem? So story so far, we'll outline the simulation argument, looked at a number of criticisms of the simulation argument. The main criticism of which is the idea that we are unable to simulate consciousness in a way that is indistinguishable from a physical consciousness. So therefore, the similar, similar, we can't have a simulation that is indistinguishable from, from the real world. And therefore, the simulation argument is false. Therefore, we communist emulation. We then looked at the idea of the computational theory of mind, which is solved, describes the idea of the brain is a computer. And if were to accept the computational theory of mind, then we can accept simulations are able to simulate consciousness, since we can simulate a computer. And if a brain is like a computer, then we can simulate a brain and everything that comes with it. I'd IE consciousness. Then we mentioned that even if we rejected the computational theory of mind and we couldn't simulate consciousness, then that doesn't stop us from thinking that we're just a conscious brain there simulation the idea that we're a brain in a vat. And we still haven't ruled out the idea that where the conscious brain but were actually dreaming. So that brings us to the, that brings us to the present where we are right now. And we can ask ourselves, are we all just dreaming? Well, there were a number of things that should be said when we looked at in the philosophy of dreams. For one, we can say that a dream is a little bit like a simulation, is sort of when it within our own brains or simulation within our own brains. And there's nothing that is logically stopping us from suggesting that the whole world right now is just a dream. Because dreams are indistinguishable from reality. And this is where I was going to get a nice image of inception, the movie. But the internet has been a bit, a bit terrible, so we can't do that. And I do apologize. However, this does relate very much to the film Inception, the idea of as dreaming and whether or not we're in a dream or not. And there's actually an excellent, excellent lecture on the philosophy of inception. I believe it's on YouTube that covers, that really blows open the film itself. So I encourage you to watch the film because it's an excellent movie and to be, What's that lecture, just type in the philosophy of Inception and you should find it. So lucky. So back to this, there's nothing logically stopping us from suggesting that where the whole world is just a dream. And the real first philosophy to look into this idea and to explain this idea is the Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zhi. Okay? And he suggested that When he went to sleep, he dreamed he was a butterfly, which is very nice. And when he was a butterfly, he didn't know that he was Zhuangzi. And so therefore, when he woke up, it was unmistakably himself. But the point that he's trying to make is that they didn't seem to be anything that showed him he was in a dream. There was nothing that could you could delineate between dream and reality. And I'm sure everybody has had a very realistic dream in the past. Where once you're in the dream, you don't know any different, you think you're in reality. And Descartes also suggested, and the quotes, this is a quote from Descartes himself. There are no certain indications by which we may clearly distinguish wakefulness from sleep. That's from his Meditations on First Philosophy. So Descartes also agrees with Zhuangzi on this idea that we mites or just be dreaming. There's nothing suggesting. There's nothing to stop us from thinking that we're dreaming. There's no clear delineation between a dream and reality. And this also brings us to probably the most famous thing Descartes ever said, cogito ergo sum. And we need to really briefly touch upon this because Descartes tries to argue that if Descartes was around today, he would argue against the idea that we're living in a simulation. And it computes simulation. Harvard computers didn't exist when he was around. But he sort of makes a rudimentary argument against the idea of as being a simulation by arguing that at least some part of Israel. So he suggested that he could prove that he himself is real, at least just him as a brain is real. Okay? And it does this by doing, like I said in the first lesson, looking at his idea of the methodological skepticism, he sits down one day, Descartes, and he says, what are all the things that I can know for sure to be true about reality? Well, it looks at a table and he says, well, why? I don't know that could that couldn't be false. Okay. That that might not be real. Looks at a lamp and says that's not there, might not be real. Okay. And he basically does Eclair out in his brain of all the things that, that he cannot prove for sure within logically proved himself is real. And this is what we call a priori knowledge. Knowledge that doesn't require any kind of empirical evidence. So, for example, today we would say that I could argue that a triangle has three sides. That is knowledge that I have received a priori, because the definition of a triangle is a shape with three sides. So therefore. For me to prove that all triangles have free sides, I don't have to go out and look at every single triangle that's ever existed and empirically validate that suggestion. I can tell myself, I can prove to myself all, all, all triangles have three sides without ever seeing all the triangles in the world. That's what apro, i knowledge is. Descartes tried to work out what he can prove his real using this kind of AAPOR or knowledge. Like what can logically be proven to be real without having to rely on empirical, empirical data, without relying on your sensors because your sensors could be fault. And he looked at the idea that, well, in order to think, in order to, for me, to me making these doors, I must, there must be something that is thinking. Okay? So there must be something that is physical, that is a thinking thing. Because in order because if, when, if there is, if I don't exist, if I'm not real, then I can't be thinking about whether or not time rail. So therefore, I think therefore I am, he can only prove. The, only, the only thing he can proved to be true to exist is himself. That because to think, thinking something requires a thinker. So if you're thinking he is thinking, therefore, he has to exist. There has to be something physical that is thinking cookie to ergo sum, I think therefore I am. But within contemporary philosophy, we could say, but if this argument, this argument, if we to accept the computational theory of mind, means that we could just simulate a thinking thing. So now you can see how it brings us completely full circle. Okay? So Descartes says that the only thing that it can prove physical with beyond, you know, beyond empirical evidence proved to be physically true is that he himself, a thinking being exists. However, some critics would say that if the brain, if a thinking being works in a similar way to a computer, we could just simulate, we can adjust simulated you other computer. So therefore, you could also not be real. And this brings us full circle because then we can reject the computational theory of mind argument. But then say, Well, we still could argue that where a brain-in-a-vat, or we could still argue that we're dreaming about what Descartes who about dreaming. So now this is really a very circular loop. Though we've brought around the philosophy. And this really does beg the question, can we ever know if we're in a simulation? And that's, we're going to look in the next lesson. As a summary. There is nothing stopping us from suggesting there where dreaming. If we are to accept Descartes's Cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am. This can be undermined by the computational theory of mind because the thinking brain can just be a part of the simulation. So really this is a sort of a loop that we had always go down. There's always gonna be something that is stopping us from coming to a conclusion. So that's why in our last lesson, we're going to look at if we can ever know, how do we know we're living in a simulated reality? 5. Can we ever know we're in a simulation?: So in this final lesson, we're going to be asking ourselves, really, how do we know we're living in a simulation? Because in the last four or five lessons we've been outlining different arguments, outline, and different critiques. And none of them have really come to the same conclusion. So we're going to recap a whole debate and we're going to just ask, is it fundamentally unprovable to know if we're living in a simulation or not. And then we will have look at the various different elements that can implications of computer simulations and the simulation argument as a whole. So as a recap, I finally got my image of inception. Here. There we go. That's what we've got. Here, is a dream real. The dream is real parenting. So in this course, we've explored the idea of as living in a simulation. And we have looked at boast rooms simulation argument and the various critiques of it. Specifically the idea that a simulation is enabled to simulate consciousness. But then computational theory of mind suggests that maybe it can't simulate consciousness if consciousness is just like a computer. And then you've also got the idea that, well, even if it calm, we can still just be a conscious brain in a vat, which would suggest that, you know, that we can still experience consciousness and still be in a simulation. And we could also just be dreaming. That's another question that we have looked at in the last lesson, that we could be dreaming and looked at some philosophers like Descartes and his view on dreaming. So is it fundamentally unprovable? Can we ever know if we're living in a simulation? Okay? Fundamentally is impossible to know for sure. Well, the most up-to-date philosophy on this topic rarely comes from ocean himself and a couple of others. So pushing yourself argues that if we're in a simulated reality, there's no way to be sure that the beings running the simulation are not themselves a simulation under the operators of assimilation or not a simulation, and so on and so on and so on. There are some aspects of the simulation argument and the Simulation Hypothesis that are improvable. Like for example, this part. Okay? Is it possibly even dangerous to find out if we're living in a simulation. Now this is an interesting question. In August 2019, and philosopher Preston green suggested that it may be better if we never find out if we're living in a simulation, let's just pretend the lustrous live our lives as if we are, or if as if we are, thus not even go into it and think about it. This is because he suggested that if we are living in a simulation and we find out that we're in a simulation that might lead to the simulation ending. We could end the simulation by, by, by doing that. And his paper is actually quite interesting because it's titles. Are we living in a simulation? That we best not try and find out? Since the experiments will either be really boring or really dangerous. So he suggested that even if we are then there's we can't there's no point touching it. Let's stay away from it. So the idea as well that there might be some aspects of this that are unprovable really bring into doubt the question that the whole phase unprovable. And it also suggests that it is unfalsifiable. The idea that we cannot prove it to be true or false, we can't prove it to be false. So therefore, we shouldn't really, it's effectively a meaningless conversation we're having. So especially when we look at ideas such as the idea of as being a brain in a vat, or the ideas that we are dreaming. There's nothing to suggest that we are. There's no datasets that we're not. It's unfalsifiable and most suggest don't solve followup. Some suggests that are unfalsifiable claim shouldn't really even be discussed in philosophy scenes that there's never going to be an answer to it. However, it does make for a very fun course. I'm not going to lie. There's also the idea of there being a religious element. Is there any kind of religious elements to the idea because there are philosophical and religious implications to being a part of a simulation. Some proponents of the idea of a simulated reality of tried to tie the notion of a simulation to us. Some more deeper philosophical questions about the existence of God, for example. And if God exists and that mean he is the creator of this simulation. And all if we're in a simulation, does that mean that the creators of the simulation are gods? By definition? These are all very interesting and very deep philosophical questions and I'm going to pause it with some of these in the project section for you to really discuss in more detail. Because adding a religious element to a really does tie into and makes it an even broader and deeper philosophical problem. As a course summary, we're going to just recap everything that we've learned in this course. So effectively, the conclusion that I'm going to come to is that we may or may not be living in a simulation. I would tend to lean towards the fact that we may be all living in a simulation. Because that makes it more fun. Fundamentally at the end of the day. But despite the fact that we haven't actually come to, we haven't come to a definitive conclusion. We have looked at some very interesting contemporary philosophy on this issue. So we've looked at the argument by Nick Bostrom. The idea that people are living in a simulation would look to the various critiques of the argument. And we've looked at the idea that none of the critiques of the simulation argument can disprove the idea that we are at least somewhat simulated. That we could be maybe a brain in a vat or that we could be dreaming. There's nothing to suggest that those are not possible alternatives. And there's also no way of knowing if we're dreaming like I've just mentioned, okay? And fundamentally the end of the day, there might not be any way of proving for sure where simulation in the first place. But at the end of the day, the more we know about this, you know, we could come to a point where we do find out because don't forget, just because there's no way of knowing right now. That doesn't mean there's no way of knowing in the future. There's nothing stopping us from finding out there's nothing logically impossible about coming to a conclusion on this. And that's what's really exciting. What's really exciting about these things is there may be an answer in the future, we may, there's nothing say suggesting that there will never be an answer to this. And that's really the why. It's fun to be at the cutting edge of the philosophical debate. So lets say thank you for watching. If you want to go into a little bit more detail on the idea of computers in the computational theory of mind. I've done a course on the philosophy of artificial intelligence. If you want to. If this course has made you fill up all existential about your who you are and your place in the world that I've actually done a course on personal identity. And to look at the ideas of Descartes. And the idea is that our senses can be fooled. I've done a course on the philosophy of perception. And they've also done a couple of courses on the ideas of stoicism and on logic as well. And I plan to do many, many, many, many, many more interesting courses on consciousness and the mind and metaphysics in general. So stay tuned for those. Thank you very much for watching and be sure to do the project section down below.