Jonathan writes

> Bruno's claim is a straightforward consequence of Strong AI; that a
> simulated mind would behave in an identical way to a "real" one, and would
> experience the same "qualia". There's no special "interface" required here;
> the simulated mind and the simulated billiard ball are in the same "world",
> ie. at the same level of simulation. As far as the simulated person is
> concerned, the billiard ball is "real". Of course, the simulation can also
> contain a simulation of the billiard ball (2nd level simulation), which will
> equally be unable to bruise the simulated person, and so on ad infinitum. If
> we take Bostrom's simulation argument seriously, we all exist in some Nth
> level simulation, while our simulated billiard ball exists at the (N+1)th
> level.

Now just to keep our bookkeeping accurate, Bruno Marchal's claims
far exceed what you have written.

What you have described is actually a pretty standard view among
most of Turing's followers. The MATRIX movie was a rather late-
comer to ideas that had been floating around long before the mid-
eighties when Vernor Vinge wrote "True Names". What Vinge appears
to have been the first to do is to think of *commands* (that one
gives while emulated) as *spells*, thus bringing in the sword &
sorcery crowd. Damien Broderick claims to have coined the term
"Virtual Reality" in the 1970's, and I think I saw a reference
where he had.

The moment that *anyone* suspected that Asimov's Robbie the Robot
might be conscious---might be a kind of being whose feelings could
be hurt---one immediately had MATRIX-like scenarios. How could one
fail to? And when Robert Sheckley wrote "Human Man's Burden" in the
late 50's, the robots clearly felt. Wasn't it an immediate
corollary that all their sensory input could be controlled? I know
that I had my own ideas just like this by 1966. And I'd be willing
to bet that Sheckley was *not* the first.

No, the important claims that Bruno makes go far beyond. He attempts
to derive physics from the theory of computation (i.e., recursive
functions, effective computability, incompleteness, and unsolvability).
His is also one set of the claims, hypotheses, and conjectures that
attempt to reduce physics to a completely timeless abstract world.
Julian Barbour, in The End of Time, gave, as you probably know, one
of the most brilliant presentations from this perspective.


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