20.292 Are we really simulating AI?

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 06:56:03 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 292.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 06:38:51 +0000
         From: lachance_at_chass.utoronto.ca
         Subject: Are we really simulating AI? Re: 20.283 ethical &
legal issues of historical simulation


I was pleased to read Lynda Willaims evoking the work of the late Douglas
Adams. {I am in particular reminded of the novel _Dirk Gently's Holistic
Detective Agency_ in which the novel itself is like the machine that is
described through the storyline.} The evocation reminded me, in reading
the abstract, that pronoun references such as "we" are constructs.
Further, such pronoun references are constructs of a bifurcating sort.
{The presence of a "we" implies the lurking of a "not-we" and at some
remove a reader or readers able to hold both positions in consciousness}

These considerations lead me to a search with the following (temporary, no
doubt) result:

Your search - "simulate multiple temporalities" - did not match any

I conducted such a search because the machine in question (in the Adams
novel) is a time machine and by analogy the similutions discussed by Peter
Jenkins can be considered a species of time machine. Jenkins's conclusion
puzzled me. I can understand not stacking simulations within simulations
to avoid crashing the system. But to exclude such stacking on the basis of
"genuineness" seems well, slightly unpostmodern. Jenkins writes in the
This lack of awareness is necessary for the simulation to run effectively,
otherwise the behavior of the AI's [sic] inhabiting the simulation would
not be genuine and the basic purpose of the simulation would not be

History abounds in the genuine simulation of ironic gestures, no? A worthy
simulation would have space for discursive interaction about the status of
an element, i.e. discussion in all its modes about whether the inhabitants
of the simulation are dealing with a occurence of "mention" or of "use". A
simulation that cannot ape the metadiscursive without crashing is a
simulation inadequate to the task of accomplishing the end of history.
There is a lot of wiggle room in the wee little pronoun, yes?

A simulation even a "failed" simulation can be stimulating.

           Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2006 07:37:09 +0100
           From: Lynda Williams <lynda_at_okalrel.org>

Regarding the abstract below -- sounds a bit like the "Deep Thought"
scenario explaining Earth's existence, from the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the
Universe. :-) And I'm suspecting a dose of "modest proposal"
here, yes?

A future society will very likely have the technological ability and the
motivation to create large numbers of completely realistic
historical simulations and be able to overcome any ethical and legal
obstacles to doing so. It is thus highly probable that we are a form of
artificial intelligence inhabiting one of these simulations. To avoid
stacking (i.e. simulations within simulations), the termination of these
simulations is likely to be the point in history when the technology to
create them first became widely available, (estimated to be 2050). Long
range planning beyond this date would therefore be

Lynda Williams, SF Author (http://www.okalrel.org)
2005 The Courtesan Prince - Edge SF and Fantasy
2006 "Harpy" in MYTHSPRING
2006 Guide to the Okal Rel Universe - Fandom Press

On Tue, 24 Oct 2006 07:06:25 +0100, willard_at_LISTS.VILLAGE.VIRGINIA.EDU wrote:
> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 276. Centre for Computing in
the Humanities, King's College London
> www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/humanities/cch/research/publications/humanist.
> ml www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2006 07:02:13 +0100
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk> > on ethical &
legal issues of simulation?
> I have recently completed a paper entitled "Historical Simulations -
Motivational, Ethical and Legal Issues" that appears in the
> August, 2006 issue of the Journal of Futures Studies. It is
> available on SSRN at
> http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=929327
> The paper discusses the ethical and legal issues of using
> completely realistic, fine-grained simulations around the mid-21st
century for reflective nostalgia, historical research, testing new
forms of artificial intelligence, and backing-up civilization in
perilous times.
> Any comments would be welcome.
> Peter S. Jenkins
> "PETER JENKINS" <peterjenkins_at_rogers.com>
> Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax: -
2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Tue Oct 31 2006 - 02:26:51 EST

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