[FRIAM] Divergent Optimism

Steve Smith sasmyth at swcp.com
Thu Jan 19 18:13:31 EST 2023

Glen -
> That's why I mentioned it, and focused on the word "simulation". To 
> me, the parallel worlds conceptions are *covered* by David Lewis' 
> possible worlds. 
More homework... thanks!
> When I said that in the pub the other night, some rando objected and 
> claimed his PhD thesis (at St. Martin's) was on Lewisian possible 
> worlds and modal logic. He was insistent that the many worlds stuff we 
> get from QT was fundamentally different. Pffft. I shouldn't have (but 
> did) taken his word for it there at the pub. I'm glad he stopped short 
> of mansplaining the two, though. Nothing's more annoying than rando 
> PhD candidates mansplaining their theses when you're just trying to 
> quaff a pint or two. Now that I've had time to think about it, I think 
> he was just posturing.
It is all posturing in some sense, no?   nevertheless I haven't had that 
kind of pub conversation in a long time (we don't really have proper 
"pubs" here) but that is on me for not frequenting them much and when I 
do not engaging with randos (besides the ones inside my head).   Your 
description makes me think of the "Good Will Hunting" Cambridge Bar 
scene that ended in "how do you like THEM apples"?
> The important point is that simulation is not *really* about analogous 
> reasoning. Sure that's a convenient lesson you might teach a budding 
> simulationist in the early days. But it's really about, as Marcus put 
> it, realizability ... or, maybe some might like "effective procedures" 
> better. I prefer "numerical solution" or "equation-free model". To 
> each her own. But in that sense, reality seems to me to *be* brute 
> force solutions, space/niche-filling Twitch. Everyone runs around 
> talking about beauty, efficiency, blahblah. 

On one hand, I have a lot more unpacking (unraveling) to do on this 
paragraph before I can pretend to grok it...  I'm not asking 
specifically for you to do that for me ( won't complain if you do), but 
acknowledging that I am still a few universes over from yours when you 
do "simulationist" talk...  I've built, run, and specified simulations 
for many years and think I appreciate your general use of the term, but 
there is a fine structure to your lexicon that is well beyond mine in 
this domain.   Maybe nothing to be done besides continue the bramble 
here... though listening in at your pub with a pint or two (do they have 
a good not-sweet Gose?) in me might help.

On the other hand, my spirit IS aligned with your dismissal of "beauty", 
"efficiency", "parsimony", whatever... for perhaps similar reasons.

> But what I see are brute force solutions, trial and error ... 
> computational indulgence. And that maps well enough to many worlds.
As I moved more and more into ensemble-steering and exploration I would 
say I developed a more useful metaphorical target for this kind of 
thinking.   I like "computational indulgence" but also offer perhaps 
"computational fecundity" as well?  I'm not sure about the implications 
of the passive vs active voice in those choices...
> And to go back to Pieter's techno-optimism, Utopias obtain. And 
> dystopias obtain. But the distributions are biased toward the latter. 
> You can only hope that you're participating in those on the rarer side 
> ... in the thin tail, I guess.

I think Utopia/Dystopia is in the "eyes of the beholder" or more to the 
simulationists vernacular "fitness function".   Depending on one's 
heuristics for pruning the infinitude of possiblities (the "stuff of the 
simulation itself?) it seems that the bias can be moved (at the risk of 
missing "interesting" things by risk-aversion in one's cut-and-try 
techniques)?    I also sometimes suspect that there is some kind of 
"conservation of topias" that requires them to be balanced in some way 
(one gender-ambiguous-person's utopia is another's dystopia)?


  - Steve

More information about the Friam mailing list