Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 100!

Here it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

Is the inflationary universe a scientific theory? Not anymore…

Revised definition of clinical trials rattles autism researchers.

The neuroscience of reading great literature. (Hint: it’s good for you.)

A lot of what you’ve heard about Plato is wrong, and that’s too bad.

The triage of truth: do not take expert opinion lying down. Or reject it out right, either.

Physicists really don’t think we live in a simulation.

Who is Rachel? The metaphysics of Blade Runner.

A (very weak) philosophical defense of opulence and hedonism.

No, the Second Amendment was not passed in order to enforce slavery.

Stop calling me “independent scholar.”


Please notice that the duration of the comments window is three days (including publication day), and that comments are moderated for relevance (to the post one is allegedly commenting on), redundancy (not good), and tone (constructive is what we aim for). This applies to both the suggested readings and the regular posts. Thanks!

154 thoughts on “Plato’s reading suggestions, episode 100!

  1. Robin Herbert


    “But a good number of people think that you did, indeed, make that dumb move.”

    It didn’t seem that my point was so difficult to understand as that.

    Let me set the record straight. I didn’t redefine the concept of simulation to include the human brain and anyone who thought I did has not understood what I said.


  2. synred

    That seems unlikely to me, given some of the advances we are seeing now.

    That seems naive to me, but I don’t suppose my ‘seems’ is any more an argument than yours, though I do have some vague notion of the complexities.

    Anyway we already have human brains growing in mini vats (petri dishes). Somebody will try to wire ’em up,but I don’t think it’ll prove that useful outside sci fi.


  3. synred

    As soon as someone manages to hook up a brain, a mouse brain or similar, to a computer and feed it sense data then we will know that it is technically feasible

    You can feed data (perhaps it’s no sense data) now. E.g., Penfield experiments where stimulating certain regions can cause rather vivid memories. You could call these ‘Dreams’ perhaps.

    Penfield’s scientific contributions go past the somatosensory and the motor cortices, his extensive work of the functions of the brain also included charting the functions of the parietal and temporal cortices.[16] Of his 520 patients, 40 reported that while their temporal lobe was stimulated with an electrode they would recall dreams, smells, visual and auditory hallucinations, as well as out-of-body experiences.[17] In his studies, Penfield found that when the temporal lobe was stimulated it produced a combination of hallucinations, dream, and memory recollection.[18] These experiences would only last as long as the electrode stimulations were present on the cortex, and in some cases when patient experienced hallucinatory experiences that evoked certain smells, sensations of flashing light, stroking the back of their hand, and many others. Other stimulation had patients experiencing deja vu, fear, loneliness, and strangeness. Certain areas of patients’ temporal lobes were stimulated with an electrode in order to experience past memories. Pen-field called these perceptual illusions (physical hallucinations) interpretive responses

    This is still a long way from imputing all the senses and motor response in detail. And note that even the wired brain would not be simulating the world, but reconstructing an image either of the real world (if sense are connected to sense it) or an external simulated world that was being feed to it. It just get’s you back to that whole ding-an-sic problem. which we ain’t like to solve any time soon.

    Simulating a world and passing info about it to a brain is not the same thing as the world being a simulation, in which case presumably the brain itself is a simulation. On a small scale of say a room, it’s not that hard to simulate a world.

    So while I agree that these NP-hard discussions do not rule out us living it a simulated world, esp. if we are a BIV. Both are implausible. I just assume the world is real and get on with it.


  4. Robin Herbert

    “We can certainly manipulate biological brains. They are designed for input. That doesn’t mean we understand what makes them aware.”

    Yes. It could be that even if there were 300 years of sustained effort in neuroscience we still could not understand how exactly it is that we are conscious. On the other hand the problem might be cracked.

    But if not, a more clunky version of the ancestor simulator will still be possible.

    Imagine for example a simulation of twoi mice in a cage, consisting of two artificially grown mouse brains interfaced with a computer supplying signals generates by a computer model of a mouse cage. The technical challenge would be huge, but it would just be a technical challenge.

    But the point remains, the fact that certain physical phenomena might not be computable is not the problem for the Bostrom argument, nor is the fact that consciousness is not substrate independent.


Comments are closed.