Why the probability theory of simulation is a wrong argument

The Spark

Simulation theory has become mainstream mainly due to Elon Musk and other high profile proponents of the idea. Recently, on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rogan brought Nick Bostrom as a guest. Bostrom is a philosopher from Oxford University who has been working on the topics of superintelligence and other technologically caused existential risks. I advise you to go and listen to their conversation (episode 1350) as this writing is a direct response to the last 30 minutes of the conversation.

The overall conversation was relatively smooth sailing, touching various topics such as AI and its impacts on the future generation. Then the conversation moved to simulation theory, this halted the flow of the conversation like a door stopper. The main problem is Rogan’s understanding of the probability theory. 

We assume that humanity will continue to exist with the advancement of technology which can solve existential threats. Further, we assume that humanity’s interest to create simulations is durable, and we will continue to create simulations for a greater understanding of humanity or for pure entertainment. Given the former assumptions are true, humanity will create millions of simulations. Therefore, there will be trillions of simulated beings created. As the number of non-simulated beings or “Architects” is relatively much smaller than the number of simulated beings, as a result of probability, we are most likely a simulation.

The Frustration and then the Curiosity

Rogan absorbs Bostrom’s words and asks, ”but how do we know that we have created a simulation?”. This leads to an unfulfilling, highly frustrating conversation that fails to come to an understanding, even with Bostrom’s attempt of using thought experiments and various alternative explanations. 

Looking at the comment section of the youtube clip and Reddit, I see most of the commentators are baffled by Rogan’s ability to comprehend the basic concept of probability. I was also one of the listeners who wanted to just jump in and shake Rogan vigourously into an epiphany.

But I had time to reflect, I came to a better idea of what Rogan was truly asking. The core question is “What is the evidence that our current position in time or the present, is after the first creation of indistinguishable simulation?”.

To understand this point of view, let’s visualize the timeline of the so-called “Architects”

Timeline of the “Architects”

Timline

Here we see a highly simplified timeline of the real biological humanity or the “Architects”. At the start of the existence of the architects, we will name the “Origin”. We assume that time is linear, and humanity will not go extinct due to technological advancements.

Timline 2

Once the architects reach technological maturity, they will reach the point where the first indistinguishable simulation is created, we will call it “Simulation 0”. Like any kind of technology, it is logical to assume that the creator of the simulation will have a technological edge, and will be the sole creator of the simulation for a certain period of time.

Timline 2.1

Assuming that the architect’s interest to create simulations is durable, eventually, the technology to create simulations will be widely available and multiple simulations will be created. At this point, we will name “Simulation Commodification”.

Now lets experient on the probability that we are in a simulation if the “Present” (present time of the Architects) is at different positions in the timeline.

Case 1 – If the “Present” is after “Simulation Commodification”

Timline 2.2

If the “Present” (in the viewpoint of the Architects) is after the point of “Simulation Commodification”, the probability of us being in a simulation significantly high, as described in the probability theory there will be multiple simulated beings created. Therefore, it will require magnificent luck to be an “Architect”, as there are so many magnitude more simulated beings.

But I will argue that the probability of us being in a simulation if the “Present” is after the “Simulation Commodification” is 100%. This is derived from the assumption that we currently do not have the technology to create multiple simulations, this then eliminates the option that we are an “Architect”, thus we are a simulation.

Case 2 – “Present” is after “Simulation 0” and before “Simulation Commodification”

Timline 2.3

The elimination of the probability that we are the “Architect” will also hold even if there is only 1 simulation created we will be a simulation, as we do not have the technology to create a simulation that is indistinguishable from reality.

Case 3 – If the “Present” is before “Simulation 0”

Timline 2.4

If the “Present” is before “Simulation 0”, clearly we are the “Architects” as we have not reached technological maturity and simulation has not been created yet.

The Simulation 0 Threshold Argument

Timline 2.5

Thus, the argument of the probability theory logically does not answer if we are in a simulation. It does not matter if 1 or trillions of simulation is created, as that will mean that we are in a simulation, due to the fact that we have no technology to create such simulations.

So the focus should be on what I call the “Simulation 0 Threshold Argument”. Is the “Present” of the “Architects” before or after the inevitable first creation “Simulation 0”?

This can be argued in many ways, for example, if the “Architects” do not go extinct, the time period of “Post-Simulation 0” will be much longer than “Pre-Simulation 0“. So if you were to place the “Present” to a random time on the “Architects” timeline, it is probabilistically more likely to be in the “Post-Simulation 0“, thus we are in a simulation.

I hope this angle of thought experiment can assist in the pursuit of the truth of simulation theory.

Program your productivity wisely using task programming.

Reality of productivity as a procrastinator

You may have listened to a Jordan Peterson clip on youtube and now you are ready to make a change. So taking his advice you make a schedule for the upcoming week of things you want to accomplish and things you want to do to develop yourself.

Feeling good about making the first step, you go to sleep ready to become a changed person. But as soon as you sit down at desk with the project in front, you feel that familiar feeling taking over you. It is like a icy villain’s beam that freezes your hand from working and that uncomfortable tightness wraps your heart. You can’t seem to start that first key stroke, or that first pencil stroke. The physical debilitation is followed by the wave of negative feelings; “I don’t want to do it”, “I can’t do it”, “I am useless”. It pushes you away from the work space like a tsunami back to your sofa. To forget the pain you felt you lose yourself in playing games and youtube clips. By the time you snap out of the mindless haze you have wasted a whole day. This then becomes a negative feedback loop and any progress in productivity you made is now lost. You feel hopeless and rage against your own weakness.

For years this has been my cycle of self-development. My procrastination was deeply rooted into my identity. I have changed, slowly mind you, but I can proudly say that I have become more productive that an average person. I have self-taught myself how to code and now working on my own startup idea, I am freelancing for a friends startup as a website developer and a online marketer, I am writing this blog, while being a full-time university finance student.

The journey to productivity was a slow process. I can say that I took me 2 years of rehabilitation using trial and error of various productivity techniques. Many did not work, however, the experience gave me insight to the technique that I employ which I want to share with you today. This is not a cure for universal procrastination, like a certain diet it may be life changing for some, and may not work for others.

Task Programming

I believe that productivity is like a muscle, and thankfully for us procrastinators is a muscles can be trained. But the reason it goes wrong most of the time is when we try to immediately jump into task that requires maximal effort. Imagine going to the gym and the first thing you do is put 3 plates on the bench press bar and start pressing. Most likely outcome is you will be injured or not be able to complete a rep. The muscle is simply not prepared to take on this amount of physical effort. To prevent that, we warm up, gradually working up in weight.

This is a parallel to productivity. Procrastinators are like new gym members trying to ego press the most amount of weight right away, leading us to get injured and never get any gains. What requires from being able to complete high effort task is a warm up tasks that prepared us for the most important tasks. The following passage will take you through the step-by-step method to utilise task programming.

Step 1: Setting daily tasks prioritisation

Daily Priority Daily Tasks
Effort Required (%)
1 Working on coding 100
2 Writing content on blog 70
3 Cleaning my window 50
4 Washing my dishes 30
5 Making my bed 10

First it is crucial to write down your tasks either on paper or using apps. This creates a commitment to the tasks and also structure your priorities. Also, you will estimate the effort that will be required to complete each task. The amount of effort required will be subjective but use the amount of focus required and the time required to complete it as a guideline in calculating the requirements.

For me, my most important task is to work on my startup idea and it requires the highest effort as coding requires entirety of my focus. While lowest priorities are making my bed which requires low effort and time. I also included cleaning my window as I recognised that my window was dirty but have been putting it off for few days.

Step 2: Task Programming – Warm up tasks

Next I will start my day from my lowest priority tasks. This is my warm up task which requires the lowest effort. As I am not a morning person hopping into the maximal effort tasks like coding first thing has never worked for me. After completing my lowest priority task, I will move on to my second lowest priority tasks, in this case is washing my dishes from last night. Because I have already completed the first low effort task, I have warmed up and will have slight momentum which makes easily ignored tasks like the doing the dishes easier to start.

Step 3: Task Programming – Working Tasks

Screen Shot 2561-08-10 at 14.40.09

After this point I am feeling good so I attempt to start on my highest priority task. This  is what I call the attempt threshold is extremely flexible and it depends on the effort required of the task, how you feel at the moment, how much sleep you got last night and so on. It is important to gage this yourself and try to keep your threshold lower than your expectation. Through many cycle fo this program I have set my threshold at 20%. I advise for starters to begin with a attempt threshold of 50%. As I have crossed my threshold I sat in front of the computer and started coding, but I started feeling that procrastination feeling grabbing me. I recognised it immediately because I have felt it so many times.

If that happens you will leave your high priority tasks and move back to the remaining lowest priority task, in this case was cleaning my room’s window. There is two distinct benefit of doing this; First is that you prevent from losing momentum you built up with the low priority tasks. Second is because you attempted a high effort task, lower effort task feels easier. It is like when you try to press a heavy weight, then you immediately lowering the weight and it feels lighter. Thus, a task like cleaning the window which normally a procrastination inducing tasks will be completed.

Step 4: Task Programming – Reattempt of high priority task

Once completing the lower priority task, you will attempt that high priority task again. But today, I am especially unmotivated. So I will repeat Step 3, and now I am writing this blog content because my failed attempt to code twice today. But I have now sat in my chair for 2 hours and almost completed a entire blog post in one sitting. And I attribute to the attempt I made to the high effort task. Once completing this content, I am going to attempt working my start up once again. (I will write my results for today after the fact at the end of blog).

Step 5: Task Programming – Evaluation

Once going through the incremental efforts, it is most likely that you are well warmed up to take on the maximal effort task now. And majority of the time it will work. I attribute to my success in “getting shit done” to this method. But there are days that you will not complete the maximal effort task. This is life as a procrastinator. But when you look back you will see all the task you completed. My bed is made, the dishes cleaned, the window is cleaned (I never know how blue the sky was until I cleaned it) and I have written this blog content. I now feel feel motivated and this momentum will push you through the threshold tomorrow.

Conclusion: Importance of long-term development

By completing hundreds of low level task will will train your productivity muscle which will lead you to complete higher effort tasks or endure high effort tasks longer. Before you realise it you will be heading to the right direction. If you feel it is not working, try moving up your attempt threshold. Do this gradually until you start completing the tasks. Do not forget to push your threshold down if it is working for you. Lowering the attempt thresholds will ensure your highest priority task are completed daily.

As a precaution, having a clear long-term goal will be important in setting the daily tasks prioritisation. If you have not clear goals yet, try googling goal setting techniques. I might write up my version of goal setting in the future, but at the moment I do not have a real comprehensive method yet.

Hopefully you will find this technique useful and start becoming productive. I am rooting for you my friends.

 

Is there Any Positives in Being a Procrastinator? Mindset Dev

Procrastinationism

Procrastination is generally seen as a negative habit. However, there are a group of individuals that embrace it. Commonly referred to as “Procrastinationism”, these are those who are proud in their ability to leave thing to the last minute, yet be able to reach high levels of performance and focus under pressure. High pressure builds diamonds if you will. And meanwhile during the procrastination they would put their idea in a mental pressure cooker which as a result in a superior output. But because they are not forced to take action during these periods, they can get mental relaxations which can lead to better mental health.

Careful Consideration vs Reality Avoidance

From my prospective is very different from what is considered procrastination. When I procrastinate there is no consideration for better ideas or getting a mental break. Procrastination is reality avoidance, I would force myself to come up with some excuse not to work. Once it’s gets really close to the deadline I would sleep every night wishing it was a dream and when I wake up everything will be gone. So while I procrastinate the last thing is thinking about the work, and even though your trying to ignore it, you know that your fucking up so slowly it chips away your mental health too.

Pressure as a Performance Enhancer

Now it doesn’t mean that careful brain storming and putting yourself under pressure doesn’t work. Especially if your like a artist where your success is solely dependent on your individual output. And if your were to fail to meet the deadline, the only person you are hurting is yourself. Pressure can also help with perfectionists who never be quite ok with their work.

However, in reality, most jobs and projects are a collaborative effort. You work as a team and your have to be accountable to do your part. Therefore, your procrastination puts everyone under pressure, and it is much more common for people to perform worse under pressure than those who do well under pressure. Different from school, when your risking people’s livelihood, you will endanger yourself from being blamed.

From my experience, to have urgency is important in any work. It doesn’t mean that the work is “rushed”, but in the end what matters it execution rather than having a world changing idea. People will have no trust on people you can’t walk the walk.

To Procrastinate or Not To Procrastinate

So as aggregate, there are very limited positives to procrastinating. And I think it is important to clearly separate “deliberation” (careful consideration) and “procrastination” (reality avoidance). Using physical pressures such as time can be used to enhance performance. However, as you self develop, you must be able to use internal pressures such as ambition, discipline and accountability. When developed properly these can be as powerful tool as external pressures, without jeopardising your relationships.

Stop finding excuses to procrastinate, it has caused great pain to myself and others surrounding me. Don’t let it happen to you.