Are You a Blip in a Computer Game?

This was in the news a couple of weeks ago, but it was a bit too silly — even for us — so we ignored it. The science websites we visit ignored it too. This is the Amazon listing for what it’s all about: The Simulation Hypothesis: An MIT Computer Scientist Shows Why AI, Quantum Physics and Eastern Mystics All Agree We Are In a Video Game.

The “MIT computer scientist” who wrote the thing is described at Amazon like this:

A graduate of MIT and Stanford, Rizwan Virk is a successful entrepreneur, video game pioneer, film producer, venture capitalist and bestselling author of Zen Entrepreneurship. Riz’s video games, including Tap Fish and Penny Dreadful: Demimonde, have been played by millions.

Well, Whoop-de-do. A computer game seller has written a book that says we’re all characters in a game of “Drool Trek” or something, and you have no more reality than the pixels in a Pac-Man game. Very exciting. Very original. Oh, Amazon says the book’s publisher is Bayview Books. Their website (Bayview Books) says their founder was none other than “Riz Virk, who was frustrated with traditional publishing. We are a publishing entity to help innovative authors with books that don’t fit into traditional publishing tropes or genres.”

Perhaps you can understand why we ignored the “news” about Riz Virk’s book. But the news didn’t go entirely unnoticed. At the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute, they posted this a week ago: MIT’s Rizwan Virk on Simulation Theory, AKA Intelligent Design. It was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

An MIT computer scientist [He’s not on their faculty], Rizwan Virk, has a new book out, The Simulation Hypothesis, making the case again that we live not in a “base reality” (a real world) but, more likely, in a computer simulation. What are the odds, in his view? “I would say it’s somewhere between 50 and 100 percent. I think it’s more likely that we’re in simulation than not.”

Ooooooooooooh! More likely than not! Well, if you consider the creationist’s concept of the universe, which was arbitrarily poofed into existence by some kind of intelligence who observes and plays with, but who isn’t part of that universe, then your life is no different than if you were pixels in a Pac-Man game. It’s all the same, really.

Klinghoffer says:

Scott Adams, a favorite commentator of mine [about whom we know nothing], thinks so as well and concedes that this is amounts to a form of ID, albeit not the kind advocated by our more familiar design proponents. Says Adams, “The odds of us having an intelligent design, meaning we’re created by another species of humans, are pretty close to 100 percent.”

Ooooooooooooh! Close to 100 percent! After that stunning information, Klinghoffer babbles on for a few paragraphs, and then concludes his post with this:

Like Adams, I’m given pause by how often stories in the news, especially the names of figures in the news, are so perfect, “on the nose,” or ironic that it appears to show the hands of the simulators. Or, simulation theory aside, it could also mean that the intelligent agent responsible for the design of our “base reality” has a sense of humor, which seems highly likely.

So there you are, dear reader. According to the “theory” of intelligent design, whether you were created by the deity described in Genesis, or the gods on Mt. Olympus, or some cosmic super nerd who lives in his mother’s basement and plays video games all day — it all amounts to the same thing: You and your universe were created for the amusement of your masters, and your life has no more significance than … well, it really has no significance at all.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Are You a Blip in a Computer Game?

  1. “well, it really has no significance at all.”
    No no no. No. Definitely no, this is not IDiot logic.
    Rather it’s the Grand Old Designer (blessed be MOFO!), who designed the computer game in which we play our roles, who has given meaning to our “non-base real lives”. And both Klinkleclapper and RizwanV have a point – they are totally incapable of giving their lives any meaning on their own.

  2. Scott Adams, isn’t he the cartoonist of “Dilbert”?

  3. This is an old idea whch has been taken seriously by particuoarly dense philosophers for ages all over the world. For anyone who is the least amount self-aware, this is obviously self-refuting in so many different ways.
    One might find it amusing to consider that the supposed dreamer that dreams up the real world is itself merely a dream – whether in an infinite regress – or whether it is circular (for example, that the real world is really real, and the supposed dreamer is merely a dream in the real world) – or any of the configuratons without limit.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Virk’s bio: BS Computer Science MIT, MS Management Stanford
    https://www.zenentrepreneur.com/
    This all seems tied up in UFO study – given the book blurbs…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Vall%C3%A9e

  5. Yes, Adams is a cartoonist who distinguishes himself by making predictions about the imminent demise of evolution. So naturally, Rabbi Klutzberger is going to wet dream some kind of kindred alliance, however tenuous.

    I blame that stupid Ridley Scott movie, ‘Prometheus’ for this popular conceit of humans having been designed by another, superior humanoid species. Once bad ideas like that take hold in the culture, they’re difficult to shake.

    Rizwan Virk: why not just call yourself Zaphod Beeblebrox? (Okay, maybe Virk is of Armenian descent, or some other nationality, and it’s not nice to make fun of genuine names).

    What difference would it make if we are all just living in a computer simulation? We’d still experience the simulation as “reality”, regardless. Anyway, it sounds a bit like Greek mythology, where sadistic gods toy with mortals for their own amusement.

    Honestly, the lengths some people will go to, just to avoid the inescapable reality of common ancestry with the animal kingdom.

  6. Actually Curmudgeon you did post on a similar topic, computer simulation, back in 2012 with “Dreams of a Designed Universe” and you commented about the Klingster:

    Klinghoffer should be delighted, but as we’ll soon see, his reaction isn’t what we expected. Let’s read on:

    Scientists can say all these things and get away with it — so long as their own notion of ID holds out the possibility that the world around us is nothing more than an elaborate computer simulation. Sounds like the premise of a creepy science-fiction movie. The designers, in this scheme, would be our distant descendants living in a society far more advanced in its technology than our own.

    Klinghoffer doesn’t like the idea. But why not? Evidence of a designed universe is the sort of thing that ought to thrill the Discoveroids — especially since they don’t have any such evidence. He continues:

    An intelligently designed universe — what else would you call a computer simulation — is scientifically testable, you say? We’ll keep that in mind.

  7. I suppose the Scott Adams they’re talking about is the cartoonist, since he is an avowed creationist activist. I was thinking of Scott Adams the game designer who made some 1980s text adventures. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Adams_(game_designer)

  8. You’re right, Richard Staller. Here it is: Dreams of a Designed Universe. It wasn’t very memorable.

  9. I’m wondering about the Scott Adams that the Klingsters is mentioning since I saw this about the cartoonist on Wikipedia: Adams stated that he does not believe in “Intelligent Design or Creationism or invisible friends of any sort.

    In any case Scott Adams is pretty much a crazed libertarian so the Klingster may have been cherry picking.

  10. I totally agree with this! The next time I kill someone, don’t blame me, I was written this way, get the game player!!!

  11. I ain’t no kin to pixels…

  12. Breaking news! Every creacrapper is going to hate this, so we here can rejoice once again.

    https://www.demorgen.be/tech-wetenschap/nederlandse-wetenschappers-zien-voor-het-eerst-een-nieuw-gen-uit-het-niets-ontstaan~b3af75f9/

    An excerpt:

    Never before scientists observed a new gen form by itself. Yeast cells changed almost under the eyes of biotechnologicst at the Technical University Delft. By forcing South American beer yeast cells to eat sugars, the cells went on to build a new “little mouth”, by combining parts of existing genes. Even though biotechnologists have suspected for a century that living beings make new genes by copying genes they already have and subsequently adapting them, it’s the first time they see it happen.

  13. Of course, if you kill someone, the person that you kill is not real, no more than a character in a novel, and we don’t accuse whodunit writers of murder. On the other hand, we, too, are also unreal, so don’t blame us for what we do to you.
    Why blame the game-player? The game player is also a construct of a higher level of game.
    Nothing is real, not even the game in which this is being played out.
    But then, if nothing is real, then it doesn’t mean anything to say that anything is real or unreal. Nothing is real, but also, nothing is unreal.
    As far as this reality being a construct of our future descendants, this descends into the paradoxes of time-travel, as if it were not bad enough.

  14. Even though biotechnologists have suspected for a century that living beings make new genes by copying genes they already have and subsequently adapting them, it’s the first time they see it happen.

    Yeah but is it a variation within the Biblical kind?

  15. Retired Prof

    ChrisS says, “Anyway, it sounds a bit like Greek mythology, where sadistic gods toy with mortals for their own amusement.”

    Yes. This metaphor for the Cosmos offers the advantage of solving the Problem of Evil. The creator does not arrange things for human benefit. He designs entertainment for his audience of watchers or gamers. Art compels attention by arousing tension and then resolving it, and the artist gains praise, not blame, for making the tension almost unbearable. Nobody thinks Shakespeare was evil for designing the fatal mistake that did in Romeo and Juliet. In this view the Grand Old Designer is no more evil for creating Jeffrey Dahmer than Wes Craven is for creating Freddy Krueger.

  16. Karl Goldsmith

    Is this the first time the IDiots have pushed a vanity published book that wasn’t one of their own?

  17. Alan Feuerbacher

    I hate the conceit of people who call a graduate of a college something like an “MIT Computer Scientist”. I have a BSEE degree from MIT, but my former classmates would laugh at me if I described myself as “an MIT Engineer”. In my experience, it’s only people who are thoroughly ignorant of technical and scientific fields, or who have a nefarious agenda, who speak that way. Real scientists tend to be humble and are embarrassed by such conceits.

  18. If Klinkledinkle had been born to be an oil and gas exploration geologist ,
    I’m sure his risk analysis for drilling an exploration well would sound like this.
    “We have a 50 % chance of finding oil with this well. It’ll either be an oil discovery, or, it will be a dry hole”. And that, boys and girls is why creationist risk analysis. Thanks Klunker for another hilarious post. Keep ’em coming.

  19. Scott Adams the cartoonist is a terminally ignorant flake. He has peddled mystical “affirmations” nonsense in his books and elsewhere (if you write down what you want to happen on pieces of paper and leave them all over the place it will happen) as well as trying to defend his own idiocy (he is every bit as bad as the pointy haired boss shown in his cartoons) by using sock puppet accounts. Of course he is also a Trump supporter and defender as well as an entitled misogynist, evolution and global warming denialist, etc.

    https://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/written-affirmations.html
    https://comicsalliance.com/scott-adams-plannedchaos-sockpuppet/
    http://mefiwiki.com/wiki/Scott_Adams,_plannedchaos
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/a-cartoonists-nihilistic-defense-of-donald-trump/537297/
    https://jezebel.com/dilbert-creator-deletes-misogynist-rant-5786019
    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Scott_Adams

  20. Today’s comic of “Tom the Dancing Bug” (April 18, 2019, but a repeat from 2002) is relevant to this topic, “The Outer Limits of Plot Twists”. (It cautions me not to reveal anything about this, but I draw your attention to its characterizaton of the writer in the final panel.)
    https://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2019/04/18

  21. Techreseller

    I am so sorry to hear this about Scott Adams the cartoonist. He seems to know corporate culture so well. I used to love his Dogbert New Ruling Class Newsletter until he stopped publishing it. Guess I can enjoy the Dilbert cartoon and not like the creator. In any case, Klinghoffer is off his rocker.