It’s Turtles All the Way Down

The case has been made that it is highly probable that the world we live in is actually a high fidelity digital simulation. After all, our model of the world around us is merely the amalgamation of various streams of sensory input. We are already learning to synthesize visual and auditory stimuli. How long will it be before our virtual worlds are completely immersive?

Or maybe they already are. Maybe our crude attempts at virtual reality are like Russian nesting dolls, reality within reality within reality. Who knows how deeply nested they are. On each level there would be creators convinced that theirs was the concrete reality and that the subsequent embedded realities were merely high fidelity hoaxes.

The contemplation of which lead to a meditation on the meaning of meaning and where it ultimately resides. On the surface of things meaning is construed as simply the definition of words describing a thing or concept. But when you dig deeper, it is divided into denotation and connotation. Denotation describes the simple mapping of  word to the object that it represents. Whereas, connotation describes the implications behind a word, often going beyond a strict mapping.

The ultimate place where meaning resides however is in the mind of the entity that derives it. That entity may reside at any nested level of reality and may be comprised of actual intelligence of artificial intelligence. That is left out of our perception of ourselves as natively intelligent entities rather than manufactured construct

I’m not so sure there is actually that much difference any more. I have lived a significantly long span of time, at least relative to the norm of this level of reality. I am largely the sum of my experiences and my reactions to them. If there are intelligent entities in virtual worlds of human creation they are no more artificial than I am if I am merely a construct of the reality containing this one.

I have to conclude that intelligence is precious in any incarnation and is to be revered. I resolve to continue to study intelligence where ever I find it and do whatever I can to help it propagate itself into the environment in which it finds itself.

I’m reminded of the scene in Blade Runner where Roy Batty describes his wondrous experiences to Rick Decker, the Blade Runner dispatched to “retire” him. Decker doesn’t succeed in killing him, not from want of trying but he dies due to an artificially abbreviated life span. In the end we are left to wonder if Decker might not be a replicant (a manufactured, android life form). The point being, is there really any difference how intelligence comes into being? Is it not to be revered in any case?

It has the mark of the old Indian legend that the world exists on the back of a turtle. That turtle stands on the back of another which stands on the back of another ad infinitum. It’s turtles all the way down.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.