Posts tagged ‘dreams’


Simulation Cosmology at the Commune

Last night I visited the Commune in my dreams. I’ve been there before, to the extent that that statement means anything; it’s a great dim ramshackle place full of omnigendered people and spontaneous events and kink and music and general good feeling. I’d love to get there more regularly (and in fact this time one of the regulars teased me for always saying how at home I felt, and yet only visiting once in a while; I said that it wasn’t that simple [crying_face_emoji.bmp]).

As well as having ice cream, I took part in a spirited discussion about whether this reality is just a simulation running in some underlying reality, and whether that underlying reality is also a simulation, and then eventually the question of whether that series has to eventually end in some reality that isn’t a simulation, or if it can just go on forever. (The question of whether we might be in, not a simulation, but a dream, and the extent to which that’s a different thing anyway, didn’t arise that I recall.)

I remember trying to take a picture with my phone, of some book that was interesting and relevant to the discussion, and of course it was a dream so the phone camera would only take a picture a few seconds after I pushed the button, and it was frustrating. (Also there was some plot about someone releasing very small robots to find and blow up the dictator of a foreign country, recognizing them by their DNA, but that probably counts as “a different dream”, to the extent that that means anything.)

Then after waking up, I took a lovely walk outside in the sun and 50-something air, and it was lovely, and I thought thoughts and things. So now I am writing words!

Anything that is consistent with all of your (all of my, all of one’s) experience so far, is true, in the sense that it is true for someone out there in the possible worlds who is exactly identical to you in experience, memory, and so on. (Which is in a sense all that there is.) And so it would seem mean or something so say it wasn’t true.

So there are many incompatible things that are true; it is true that you live in a simulation running on a planet-size diamond computer created by intelligent plants, and it is also true that you live in a simulation running on the equivalent of a cellphone owned by a golden-thewed Olympian deity who does chartered accountancy in his spare time.

It is probably also true that you don’t live in a simulation at all, but in a free-floating reality not in any useful sense running on any underlying other reality, created by some extremely powerful being from the outside, if that can be made logically coherent. And also that you live in a non-simulation reality that just growed, so to speak, without external impetus.

(I notice that I keep writing “love” for “live”, which is probably an improvement in most ways.)

The “if that can be made logically coherent” thing is interesting; in my undergraduate thesis I had to distinguish between “possible worlds” and “conceivable worlds”, because I needed a word for a category of worlds that weren’t actually possible (because they contained Alternate Mathematical Facts, for instance) but were conceivable in that one could think vaguely of them; otherwise people would turn out to know all necessary truths, and clearly we don’t.

So now given this liberal notion of truth that we’re using here, are the negations of some necessary truths, also true? Is there a version of you (of me) that lives in a world in which the Hodge Conjecture is true, and another in which it is false? Not sure. Probably! :)

That is, given that in the relevant sense my current experience (this present moment, which is all that exists) doesn’t differentiate between Hodge and not-Hodge, there’s no reason to say either Hodge or not-Hodge, and therefore neither Hodge nor not-Hodge is any truer than the other.

Eh, what?

It’s an interesting question what would happen if I got and thoroughly understood a correct proof that, say, not-Hodge. Would there at that point no longer be any of me living in a universe in which Hodge? Given that I can (think that I) have thoroughly understood something that is false, there would still be me-instances in worlds in which Hodge, I’m pretty sure. Which kind of suggests that everything is true?

Given all that, it seems straightforwardly true for instance that you (we) live in a simulation running in a reality that itself a simulation running in a … and so on forever, unlikely as that sounds. Is there some plausible principle that, if true, would require that the sequence end somewhere? It sort of feels like such a principle ought to exist, but I’m not sure exactly what it would be.

It seems that if there is anything in moral / ethical space (for instance) that follows from being in a simulation, it would then be difficult and/or impossible to act correctly, given that we are both in and not in a simulation. Does that suggest that there isn’t anything moral or ethical that follows from being in a simulation? (I suspect that in fact there isn’t anything, so this would just support that.)

It’s true that you can communicate with the underlying reality that this reality is running on, by speaking to a certain old man in Toronto. It’s also true that you can communicate with that underlying reality by closing your eyes and thinking certain words that have long been forgotten almost everywhere. You can even be embodied in a physical body in that underlying reality! You could make your way down the realities, closer and closer to the source (which is also an infinite way off!)!

If you were to arrange to be downloaded into an individual body in the underlying reality, would you want the copy of you in this reality to be removed at the same time? That would sort of seem like suicide; on the other hand leaving a you behind who will discover that they didn’t make it to the underlying reality, might be very cruel. Perhaps the left-behind you could be (has been) flashy-thing’d, per Men in Black.

Another thing that appears to be true: it’s very hard to use any of these AI things to create an image that accurately reflects or elicits or even is compatible with my dreams of visiting the Commune and having ice cream! Not sure what I’m doing wrong. Here is one that I like in some way, even though it doesn’t really reflect the dream. (The center divider is part of the image; it’s not two images.) Enjoy!


A Nice Big Computronium Fractal

So I had a dream the other night. And the next morning I wrote on The Twitters:

Now this isn’t the dream (I don’t remember the dream well enough), but it’s the outline of a story inspired by and loosely based on the dream.

It started with the pair of portals behind the commune building, just outside Frankie’s kitchen.

“So, these are, like, portals to a simulation of the world?”

“Is that what they’re saying?” Frankie said, wiping his hands on his apron, “Yeah, sure, a simulation.”

He had a funny expression on his face, like he was surprised, but not surprised, more like maybe resigned or something, but also happy, or relieved.

“Why are there two?”

“One going, and one coming back.”

So we went through the “going” portal, and from the other side it was more obvious, because that side of the portals were swinging “Enter” and “Exit” doors from this big sort of grocery store or convenience store or supermarket or whatever. And the simulation, we thought, was a simulation of the world where corporations had taken over everything, and this particular chain of stores was the main Dictator of the World, and we were employees like everyone else, and expected to follow the rules and wear the uniform and do the required things of the day.

We escaped back out through the exit portal, but this stocky lady from Store Security followed us out and collared us just as Frankie came out of his kitchen. We expected him to help us escape from her, but instead they had a conversation that was really hard to understand, but the conclusion was for some reason that she was going to be allowed to take us back, for a year, “to see how it works out”.

We appealed to Frankie as she dragged us back through the portal, and he looked sympathetic but somehow unworried, like he’d like to indulge our silly objections to being dragged back to the corporate-hell simulation, but really couldn’t.

The Store Security lady was actually pretty nice, and sort of took us under her wing, in a gruff way. She assured us that everything was going fine, by pointing through the portal and saying, “See? The future is great. It’s like a paradise up there. So nothing is messed up by your being here.”

The future? But wait, so the portals don’t lead to some little simulated universe at all, but to the past? And how can some big world-spanning corporate dystopia be in the past? Shouldn’t that be in the future, if anything?

She shakes her head and says something about how little you kids know about reality.

We all live like in the basement of the store when we aren’t on shift, and it’s sort of a hovel, and there are security robots watching us, but there’s also this strange drug that comes as a yellow crust on these like wheat cakes or something, and we eat that and it’s wild and trippy and satisfying. And we find some obscure or secret or hidden areas of the basement, and there’s another drug that’s just the same except that it’s pink instead of yellow, and it’s an aphrodisiac as well as a psychedelic, and so there are big and very surreal orgies among all of the store staff, and that’s nice.

Various of us explore the basement and attached cavern system and have various adventures which are either real or drug-induced, and talk about time-travel and self-fulfilling prophecies, and then we break out of the caverns into the open air, and we’re running down this slope, and I open my arms and say something along the lines of…

This is the place where in the future, when all matter is subsumed into a vast computronium fractal and we are all uploaded, and are masters of time and space, I will loop back into the past and push through the fractal seed, remaking reality!

And that turned out to be true. So the sky opened and a glistening shard of fractal computronium from the future pushed through, and all of the matter that it touched was converted in a glittering wave that consumed the entire planet, and you wouldn’t notice at all unless you wanted to, but if you wanted to you could see all of time and space laid out before you, and commune with every other mind that ever had been or would come to be. Which was pretty neat.

After a few centuries of this we settled into some more or less familiar and fixed structures of reality for awhile, just for fun, and we set up a commune, and called ourselves Frankie in honor of Frankie, and cooked for everyone because cooking is also fun. And we investigated time and space and reality and left a couple of interesting portals that we’d been working on out behind the building.

And then one day when one of the kids in the fractal computronium commune reality came up and said “So these are, like, portals to a simulation of the world?” it wasn’t like we had to say certain things in response, but we did, and it was overall a nice feeling.

The End.

Kind of fun! The world being converted into a big computronium fractal that we all live inside of in indescribable but desirable ways is something of a trope in my dreams (and elsewhere).


Not a good comparison


My mind is like the Autumn moon
Shining clean and clear in the green pool.
No, that’s not a good comparison.
Tell me, how shall I explain?

Han Shan, Cold Mountain (trans. Burton Watson)

I dreamed last night (or I probably did; see below) that I was with some people, and we were laughing about someone who claimed that they’d been officially declared Enlightened by some mystical Teacher, and someone asked me, hey, you’re all into that Zen stuff, I’d think you’d take this more seriously?

And I nodded and said something like:

You know, except for a few annoying [something] sects, it’s not like you go to your teacher and show how you’ve progressed and eventually the teacher says “okay good, you’re enlightened now”.  They might say “okay, keep going” or “okay, here’s what you should work on next” or even like “okay, I think you are ready to teach some students of your own”, but never “okay, you’re enlightened”, that would be just…

and I shook my head and laughed.

(Where the [something] was some Japanese or Chinese word, maybe kensho, or RInzai (no offense to any Rinzai folk in the waking world), or some dream-word entirely, but there was a word there.)

The reason I say above there that I probably dreamed this last night is that it’s like the most literal, ordinary, realistic, unadorned dream I can recall having had, so it’s not by any means impossible that it wasn’t a dream at all, but actually happened sometime recently, and I’ve just lost track of the actual time and place and details and who was there and what that missing word was and all.

It all sort of blurs together, amirite?

So I say to you,
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:

Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.

ol’ Buddha, the Diamond Sutra (right at the end there)


Flying theatrical pirates!

And now, the weblog entry I know you’ve all been waiting for: the next episode of “So, I had this dream the other night…”!

So, I had this dream the other night.

I was at home, in the driveway (it was like the driveway of the house that I grew up in, not the one I live in now), and these two door-to-door salepersons came up, and they were selling cross-stitch supplies and something completely unrelated to that (motor oil or something), and I told them that they should wait until M got home, and she might be interested in the cross-stitch supplies.

Then I was driving somewhere in the car, and the salespersons were there in the car with me, and I thought “oh, wait, why are they here in the car with me? I was supposed to leave them back at the house to wait for M, oops”.

And then up in the sky I saw all of these people sort of floating there in a long line stretching off into the distance. Since I could fly myself in the dream (as in many dreams), I wanted to go and join them and wait in line too (perhaps I hadn’t known until then that other people could fly; not clear), but what about the car?

So I gave the salespersons the keys and had them promise to drive the car home to wait for M, and not steal it or anything, and I floated up to get in the line.

And although the line looked very long, it must have been moving very fast, because soon I got to the front of it, which was in this wooden structure (up in the sky presumably), where there were lots of theatrical pirate supplies (hats with feathers, odd baggy pants, unconvincing swords, etc), because we were going to be pirates.

Flying pirates!

And I think I spent the rest of the dream happily playing with and trying on the supplies.

And there you have it! :)

Be sure to tune in again next time…

Update!!:!:: As I somehow forgot to mention but a commentor inadvertently (I assume) reminded me, M and I had just seen Monty Python’s Meaning of Life on the Net Flix, so there is an obvious connection with the Crimson Permanent Assurance. Which didn’t fly, but still…


<3 xkcd

This is apparently a really ancient xkcd, but it should be read daily, and reposted everywhere.

xkcd 137