A religion for the high-tech 21st century
It’s time for a modern religion. One you’d be thrilled to join if you’re a scientist, engineer, technologist, or die-hard skeptic. It’s time for a religion that uses technology to answer the hard questions of life.
We already have science, of course, but there’s many hard questions that science has trouble answering. What is gravity? What is the best tax structure? How did consciousness arise? Materialism or Idealism? How much immigration is the right amount? How should I behave right now?
Our hard problems have plenty of hypotheses and impassioned arguments but we rarely arrive at definitive answers. Emotions often get in the way of long-term, large-scale thinking and history can only teach us general patterns.
We need to go all-in on simulations.
This new religion is all about simulation: continually creating simulations of any scenario that vexes us, from simple to complex, until we discover the answers to the hard questions.
Imagine being able to simulate immigration policy, for example. How many people should be allowed in, from what backgrounds, and from which countries? Where should they be settled? How much help should they get? Then, what happens when these immigrants arrive? What is the effect in 10, 20, or 50 years?
Real-world Darwinism is far too slow for us to learn much from it and the stakes are too high to wait and see. We need to go full steam ahead with extreme Digital Darwinism.
The first few simulations will be woefully incomplete, of course. But once they exist, anyone, no matter their opinion, can critique and improve them. All of this happens outside of the worlds of academics, policy, and law.
Now also imagine that this ability to simulate is everywhere, like the Internet. We’ll be able to test hypotheses of all types and sizes, pitting one idea against another or placing a dozen ideas into a Darwinian-deathmatch situation to see which ones survive. Again, and again, and again.
Remember how it used to be a rite of passage for top-notch programmers to design and create an Operating System? Now we can replace that with creating Simulation Systems that anyone can install and customize on their PCs and smartphones. Finally we’ll put all of that computing power to good use.
We can call our religion Simuli and refer to each other as Simulans. Or whatever.
As a member of this religion, you are expected to join with others and build ever-better systems of simulation and ever-better simulations. Contribute whatever you can.
If we succeed in simulating either our own intelligence or the universe itself, we’ll have used Digital Darwinism to answer any question we care to ask.
A Religion, Really?
What makes this a religion is how we answer the question of where to begin. After all, simulations can become so complex that they mirror our own reality.
How do we construct our simulation systems? What type of simulation system will produce the best results? At the beginning, we don’t know. We only have faith to go on. Faith that our method of finding the right system will work.
Furthermore, a few people already believe they know where to begin. Yet the only way they can prove that they’re right is to create the simulation system that gives us the best answers to the hardest questions. That’s a long way down the road. Until then, we only have faith and hard work.
Let’s Get Started
I believe the place to begin is the one universal truth. This truth?
Only Effect Matters
In my vision of a simulation system, this is the singular founding principle. It is the “dogma” of my branch of Simuli, the Hazelian branch. Your dogma may differ wildly but you’ll have to prove it the same way I’ll have to.
On top of the founding principle, I also have to devise a way to execute, which is to get from here to an actual system of simulation. The way I execute will probably differ from the way you’d do it.
And if you’re wondering how the simulations actually look and work? Simulations can be game-like (or actual games), models like physics, protein, weather, or climate models, and could involve artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, brain interfaces, or some other method. I suspect that we’ll start to see new simulation methods as we get serious about it.
That’s all there is to this new religion: simulate, keep simulating, and keep making the simulations better. Like the ancient religions, this one requires you to take an idea on faith, prescribes a mode of behavior, and offers answers to any question you may have. Perhaps even an answer to the question of whether we are ourselves living in a simulation.