# Nick Bostrom on the Joe Rogan Podcast Conversation About the Simulation | AI Podcast Clips | Summary and Q&A

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March 27, 2020
by
Lex Fridman
Nick Bostrom on the Joe Rogan Podcast Conversation About the Simulation | AI Podcast Clips

## TL;DR

Probability arguments and anthropic reasoning play a role in analyzing the possibility of living in a simulation or facing doomsday. The arguments involve assumptions about being a random observer and the size of simulation sets.

## Key Insights

• 😀 Probability arguments can be applied to analyze the likelihood of living in a simulation or facing doomsday scenarios.
• ✋ The simulation argument suggests that a higher number of simulated individuals with similar experiences implies a higher probability of living in a simulation.
• 😜 The Doomsday argument indicates that our birth rank can provide evidence for the probability of humanity facing extinction.
• 🖐️ The self-sampling assumption plays a crucial role in both arguments, although it is weaker in the simulation argument.
• 🧘 Anthropic reasoning is necessary for understanding these arguments and making inferences about our position as observers in different scenarios.
• 🫒 Computational limitations, finite resources, and the ceiling effect of stacked simulations may impose constraints on the likelihood of living in a simulation.
• 🥺 The Doomsday argument poses challenges due to its strong assumption, leading to debates about its validity.

## Transcript

so part three of the argument says that so that leads us to a place where eventually somebody creates a simulation that I think you you had a conversation with Joe Rogan I think there's some aspect here where you got stuck a little bit how does that lead to well likely living in a simulation so this kind of probability argument if somebody eventual... Read More

### Q: How does the simulation argument propose that we might be living in a simulation?

The simulation argument suggests that if advanced civilizations in the future create simulations, the number of simulated people with our experiences would be significantly higher than non-simulated ones. Therefore, it is more likely that we are one of the simulated individuals.

### Q: What are the key assumptions and implications of the Doomsday argument?

The Doomsday argument assumes that we should reason as if we are a random sample from all humans that will ever exist. It posits that the observer's birth rank provides evidence, suggesting a lower chance of humanity reaching a larger population.

### Q: How is anthropic reasoning relevant to both simulation and Doomsday scenarios?

Anthropic reasoning, which involves considering the observer's position or reference class, is essential in understanding these scenarios. It helps us evaluate the probability of specific outcomes and make inferences about our place as observers in simulated or extinction-prone situations.

### Q: Are there connections between the Doomsday argument and the simulation argument?

Both arguments apply anthropic reasoning; however, the simulation argument requires a weaker assumption compared to the Doomsday argument. The Doomsday argument relies on a stronger assumption that we are a random sample from all humans, while the simulation argument considers the size of simulated sets.

## Summary

This video discusses the simulation argument and the principle of indifference. It explores how the probability argument of eventually creating a simulation leads to the belief that we are likely living in a simulation. The video also draws connections to the Doomsday argument and the application of anthropic reasoning. Additionally, it examines the self-sampling assumption and the need for anthropic reasoning in scientific inferences. The concept of being an observer in simulations is also discussed, highlighting the limitations of finite resources in creating simulations within simulations.

### Q: How does the probability argument of eventually creating a simulation lead to the belief that we are likely living in a simulation?

The probability argument suggests that if there are more simulated people with our kinds of experiences than non-simulated ones, by the end of time, then it is more likely that we are in a simulation. This reasoning assumes that if there are ten times more simulated people with our experiences, we would be ten times more likely to be one of those. Therefore, if someone eventually creates a simulation, the probability of living in a simulation increases.

### Q: What is the bland principle of indifference and how does it relate to the simulation argument?

The bland principle of indifference states that when there are two sets of observers, one significantly larger than the other, and internal evidence cannot determine which set an observer belongs to, the probability should be proportional to the size of the sets. In the context of the simulation argument, if there are more simulated observers with our experiences, we would be more likely to be one of them. It is a way of assigning probabilities based on the ratio of simulated to non-simulated observers.

### Q: Is the principle of indifference intuitive and plausible?

The principle of indifference may seem intuitive because, without enough information, assigning the same probabilities based on the size of a set appears rational. It is plausible because it aligns with the idea that if there are more simulated people with our experiences, it is more likely that we are one of them. However, the assumption of infinite time in the argument may be a flaw that needs to be addressed.

### Q: How does the assumption of infinite time impact the simulation argument?

The assumption of infinite time is not necessary for the simulation argument. Instead, the argument revolves around the time it takes for a universe to produce an advanced civilization capable of creating simulations. The notion is that once the first simulation is created, more simulations will follow relatively soon after. However, different planets may have different timelines for developing life and creating simulations, so the start times can vary across cosmological epochs.

### Q: Is there a connection between the Doomsday argument and the simulation argument?

Both the Doomsday argument and the simulation argument involve anthropic reasoning. However, the assumption needed for the Doomsday argument to hold is much stronger than for the simulation argument. The Doomsday argument suggests that humanity has systematically underestimated the probability of going extinct soon. While there are differences between the two arguments, they both rely on reasoning about indexical compositions and have connections through anthropic reasoning.

### Q: What is the Doomsday argument, and how does it relate to anthropic reasoning?

The Doomsday argument posits that humanity has underestimated the probability of going extinct soon. It relies on the assumption that an individual's birth rank is a random sample from all humans that have ever existed. This assumption leads to the conclusion that there is a high probability of a limited total number of humans in the future. The argument involves anthropic reasoning, which aims to factor in the observer's own existence as evidence for certain theories or hypotheses.

### Q: What is the self-sampling assumption in the Doomsday argument?

The self-sampling assumption is the idea that one should reason as if they were a random sample from all observers or a reference class. In the Doomsday argument, this assumption supports reasoning about birth ranks and the probability of the total number of humans in the future. It allows for inferences based on one's own birth and position among all humans that have ever existed. However, the self-sampling assumption leads to the counterintuitive conclusion that there is a low chance of reaching a large number of humans in the future.

### Q: Are there challenges in accepting the self-sampling assumption?

The self-sampling assumption is controversial because it leads to counterintuitive conclusions. Many find it difficult to accept that an individual's birth rank should affect the probability of the total number of humans in the future. While there are differing accounts of the flaws in the Doomsday argument, it remains inconclusive. However, similar assumptions are used in other scientific domains, such as in multiverse theories in cosmology, to make sense of bonafide scientific inferences.

### Q: How does the simulation argument differ from the Doomsday argument in terms of the observer's role?

In the simulation argument, observers include both the people in original histories and those in simulations. The observer's role is different because they are not limited to the individual consciousness. Instead, the argument focuses on whether one is a simulated observer or not. The simulation argument assumes that if an individual cannot determine their own status as a simulated person, they should assign a uniform probability that aligns with the size of the sets of simulated and non-simulated observers.

### Q: Is there a connection between the resources available in simulations and the levels of simulations?

In the context of simulations within simulations, there can be limitations on resources. Each new level of simulation would have fewer resources to work with than the previous level. However, as an observer, it is not possible to know with certainty which level of simulation one is in. There is the possibility of stacked simulations with arbitrary numbers, but the exact level remains uncertain. The finite resources in basement reality imposed by the physics of the observed universe would ultimately limit the height of the simulation tower.

## Takeaways

The simulation argument suggests that if it is probable that someone will eventually create a simulation, then it is likely that we are currently living in one. This probability argument is based on the principle of indifference, which assigns probabilities proportional to the size of sets of simulated and non-simulated observers. The argument also draws connections to the Doomsday argument, which involves anthropic reasoning and the self-sampling assumption. While the Doomsday argument is more controversial, similar assumptions are used in scientific domains like cosmology. The simulation argument raises questions about the role of observers in simulations and the limitations imposed by finite resources in creating simulations within simulations.

## Summary & Key Takeaways

• Probability arguments are used to analyze the likelihood of living in a simulation or facing doomsday based on the creation of simulations by advanced civilizations in the future.

• The simulation argument suggests that if there are more simulated people than non-simulated people with similar experiences, it is more probable that we are living in a simulation.

• The Doomsday argument argues that we have underestimated the probability of humanity facing extinction soon and indicates that the observer's birth position can provide evidence for this.