Hephaestus's Blog


Are We Simulated?
October 22, 2015, 14:57
Filed under: Uncategorized

Imagine this: Your entire world, along with everyone you know, everyone you’ve ever met, everything you’ve ever heard of, and you yourself, is a computer simulation. Nothing is real; it is all virtual reality created out of bits and bytes.

This scenario is one that has been considered many times, by many people, since the invention of the computer. As I see it, there are two main variations of the idea. I’ll call them the anthropic and the solipsistic.

The basic premise of the anthropic version is this: a sufficiently advanced civilization, or if you want to be cynical about it, a super-kid with a supercomputer, is simulating the entirety of our civilization and possibly our universe, along with everything and everyone in it. (The odds that the entire Universe is being simulated are extremely low, simply because it is impossible to build a computer powerful enough. As in, it would be bigger than the Universe and require more energy than exists).

On the other hand, the solipsistic version of the concept is that the entire simulation, or at least some part of it, is being run for your benefit, and you have some sort of existence beyond the simulation On a large scale, this is The Matrix. (I think… I haven’t actually seen it yet).

Most people, on first thinking of this, feel some sort of existential horror. I know I did. However, after some consideration, I have come to a rather comforting conclusion:

It doesn’t matter if reality is real or not, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Whether your actions, or mine, have any actual concrete impact is moot, if we consider them to be worthwhile, they are. We create our own meaning for our lives, and it is our duty to live our lives according to that meaning. In a simulated reality, the goals of life are the same, whatever they may be. Objective reality is not necessary for a meaningful existence, any more than fame and fortune.

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Word of the Month: Precarious
October 15, 2015, 11:00
Filed under: Words of the Months

Etymology: From LatinĀ precarius, ‘obtained through request or prayer’.

Definition: Uncertain, risky.

*deep breath*

This is a weird one. The word precarious entered English in the seventeenth century as a legal term. Something was precarious if it was held by the favour or consent of another. Somehow, over time, the meaning of the word shifted. As a position, or the ownership of a thing, being dependent on the caprice of another person is necessarily risky, the word came to mean ‘risky’. (In fact, my first instinct in that last sentence was to use ‘precarious’ instead of ‘risky’).

I decided to investigate this on a whim because a YouTuber I watched, Kurtjmac, was musing on where this word came from. It turned out to be a great deal more exciting than I anticipated.

Please let me know if there are any words you would like featured by commenting on this post.