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Questions Based on The Matrix About What Constitutes Reality

BluRayHiDef

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So, I'm currently watching The Matrix on home video and am planning on watching its two sequels afterwards; the films have me thinking about what constitutes reality and subsequently whether or not the Matrix simulation could be considered reality if it existed.

Is reality defined solely as experiences of the brain via the body? Or can experiences of the brain via direct neural interfaces be considered reality as well, particularly if said experiences are had within a virtual world to which also others are connected via neural interfaces? In other words, since our lives are defined by our interactions with one another and our effects on one another - direct and indirect - couldn't the Matrix simulation be considered reality since practically all of humanity (minus the minority in Zion) are connected to it and interact with one another and effect one another within it?

For example, is the fact that I have typed this thread in this world and that you are reading it in this world an example of what makes this world reality? Or is the fact that we interact with this world via our bodies what makes it reality?
 
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INCUBASE

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Well once anyone works out what consciousness is and where it is in our brains (if its even there), we can start working it out

Who knows, perhaps you're my dream, and when I wake up, you die

Perhaps when you dream, and that dream feels more real, that is you in another multiverse

Fuck knows
 
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INCUBASE

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I'm real, man. Stop this.

By am I real?, is any of this real?, what is real?

Are you only a part of my reality?, or am I only part of yours?

Perhaps this very conversation is a riddle wrapped up within an enigma of your self consciousness, trying to reach out and jolt the fabric of your mental bandage
 
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RPS37

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I'm real, man. Stop this.
 
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BluRayHiDef

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By am I real?, is any of this real?, what is real?

Are you only a part of my reality?, or am I only part of yours?

Perhaps this very conversation is a riddle wrapped up within an enigma of your self consciousness, trying to reach out and jolt the fabric of your mental bandage

I'm done with you; you're the one who's not real. I'm freeing my mind and moving on from you; you're just a simulation meant to deceive me.
 

INCUBASE

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I'm done with you; you're the one who's not real. I'm freeing my mind and moving on from you; you're just a simulation meant to deceive me.

You can't escape destiny, ill always be with you now, like a splinter in your mind, like a cut on the roof of your mouth, that would heal if only you could stop tonguing.

Your mind is awake now, your time is over
 
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That's the takeaway of the movie: what is reality? Our reality is often defined by rules - Neo understands the rules of the Matrix and so he can use this knowledge to literally change anything around him. Even the simulation itself has the rules of a 1990's city, but these rules evidently didn't matter and only had the purpose of convincing the inhabitants of the simulation, who are actually free will capable but unconsciously decide, based on the overwhelming power of the simulation around them, that this is the reality . That is also why a setting of 1990's America was chosen: people are more likely to 'go with the flow' if they can be rewarded, so that's why it's so easy for Cypher to change his mind - every indulgence imaginable is available and feels just as real as the alternative, so why suffer in "reality" when you could eat a juicy steak in an equally real experience?
 
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BluRayHiDef

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You can't escape destiny, ill always be with you now, like a splinter in your mind, like a cut on the roof of your mouth, that would heal if only you could stop tonguing.

Your mind is awake now, your time is over

You're just a turd that I'm about to excrete and flush down the toilet. Afterward, I'll completely forget about you.
 
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Tschumi

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Tesseract Tesseract wasn't it you who spruked Lex Fridman here? OP, search for his podcast on player.fm or something, pretty sure he has a legit, nobel prize level scientist talk about this stuff for nearly 2 hours. Not the goat science podcast (the guy seems to idolise joe "the fibbonaci sequence is news to me" rogan as a leading intellectual for some reason) but the people he talks to are legit.
 
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Tesseract

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Tesseract Tesseract wasn't it you who spruked Lex Fridman here? OP, search for his podcast on player.fm or something, pretty sure he has a legit, nobel prize level scientist talk about this stuff for nearly 2 hours. Not the goat science podcast (the guy seems to idolise joe "the fibbonaci sequence is news to me" rogan as a leading intellectual for some reason) but the people he talks to are legit.
yap

plenty of brilliant minds discuss the nature of reality w / lex

sean carroll's episodes are respectable primers


 

deafmedal

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I'm real, man. Stop this.
I'm done with you; you're the one who's not real. I'm freeing my mind and moving on from you; you're just a simulation meant to deceive me.
I have not laughed so hard in weeks, thanks mate!

Currently “working”, may seriously reply later as this is a subject I have been thinking on quite a bit recently.

edit: the based homie Tesseract Tesseract thanks for the linkage, a small break from Dr. Peterson will be nice.
 
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TeezzyD

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There's a subreddit dedicated to solipsism.


I'm don't use the site too often these days, but the conversations are so funny there because it's a bunch of nerds in an online community who each think that they're the only one who actually exists.

Hilarity ensues.
 
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BigBooper

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There was a story about a man that would have dreams that he was transported back in time to Pearl Harbor on the day before it was attacked. He always died in the attack and woke up. He went to a psychologist for help because he was convinced he was really time traveling. The psychologist talked to him and watched him all night as the man fell asleep. The psychologist fell asleep in his chair and when he woke up the man was gone.
 
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Tschumi

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For the record... Any attempts to find something, deeper than apes bouncing off events, in our existence are fundamentally fantastic, willful and wasteful. We should just be amazed at how crazily our self preservation instincts have sent us around the Nürburgring Nordschleife that is our species' existence to date.
 
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RPS37

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There was a story about a man that would have dreams that he was transported back in time to Pearl Harbor on the day before it was attacked. He always died in the attack and woke up. He went to a psychologist for help because he was convinced he was really time traveling. The psychologist talked to him and watched him all night as the man fell asleep. The psychologist fell asleep in his chair and when he woke up the man was gone.
First, wtf? Can’t tell if this is a joke.

Second, I’ve definitely had time travel and alternate universe dreams before. Scary af.
 

Tesseract

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There's a subreddit dedicated to solipsism.


I'm don't use the site too often these days, but the conversations are so funny there because it's a bunch of nerds in an online community who each think that they're the only one who actually exists.

Hilarity ensues.
i'm glad these communities exist, the concept taken alone is quite dangerous

For the record... Any attempts to find something deeper than apes bouncing off events in our existence are fundamentally fantastic, willful and wasteful. We would just be amazed at how crazily our self preservation instincts have sent us around the Nürburgring Nordschleife that is our species' existence to date.
willful yes, wasteful no

we're lucky to have a fairly expressive language befitting all manner of problems such that nature can be simulated with precision and accuracy

i would remind people that the nature of computation is experimental and the results bear relevance to the physical world and the ways we map and mine the universe / time

 
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mango drank

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I'm not hip to the latest simulation lingo, but the strict definition of "reality" would be something along the lines of: the originating universe; the base reality that exists as the bedrock for all others; the reality that isn't simulated; the reality that exists regardless of any sentient observers, or of those observers' conscious minds.

When talking about simulations, the word "reality" becomes a countable noun, and gets tacked onto a bunch of qualifiers: "simulated reality," "false reality," "my reality," "this reality," "that reality over there." But none of those is base reality. Whether you want to consider your own personal simulated reality "good enough" is up to you: is it convincing enough? Consistent enough? Is it buggy? Or will only the real thing do?

If you're a brain in a vat (or a Keanu in a vat), then the universe your physical brain floats in is a higher-level reality than the artificial reality being fed to your senses. But if you're a videogame character on a hard drive, then you're virtual to begin with, and in general it can be said you "exist" only as part of that virtual reality, and have no true analog in the reality one level higher than yours. You're a simulated native of your own virtual reality, and you don't belong in the higher-level reality. If you wanted to "break out" of your simulation and exist as part of that higher-level reality, you'd need to be implanted into a body that can exist in the weird physics of that real-er world, you'd need to be given sensors to take in input, your programming would need to be modified to help you make sense of your new world, etc.
 
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Tschumi

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willful yes, wasteful no

...

I'm not sure you quite got what i meant.. i appreciate your post. I'll just go ahead and clarify what i meant:

I think it's wasteful to insist that something like a computer program is the truth to our existence. It's almost religious, in as far as religion was an early science which lacked a real understanding of proof; this is just us applying the technology of today to a timeless question, with no testable proof. We might as well be saying that the universe is a kitchen sponge, or my left nut.

Go back 150 years and they'll perhaps be speculating that the universe is a 3D, volcanic steam engine. Go back 80 or so years to when they first conceived of the atom as a central ball with small balls orbiting it and everyone will think it means the solar system is an atom in a giant's pinky finger. In the meantime Einstein will be doing the grown-ups' science.

My post speaks specifically to the relevance of doing exactly what Galileo is talking about in the quote: dumb emergence, things that aren't open to interpretation. Those are fascinating and invigorating enough without applying human technology to them in an attempt to make easier sense of them.

What makes me cringe is when people anthropomorphize everything under the sun.. this could only be a computer program run by some pseudo human superhack4r, this could only be god's work, this could only be an existence permitted to us by begrudging intergalactic fascists.. it's all just projection, when the truth is obvious as the nose on our faces and twice as amazing.

I'm with Galileo. The universe, the truths open to us, are dumb and incredible. Mesmerising simplicity which underpins all complexity. So we waste our time with these short sighted, superficially best-fit theories. That's what my post was about. The universe is belittled when an armchair theorist or a dude with a YouTube channel thinks they've pinned it down.
 
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Stiflers Mom

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Smoke some DMT.
What you call 'reality' is just an extremly thin atmospheric filter layer that protects you against what the world really looks like.

It's disturbing. Almost unbearable.
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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It's an easy question to answer: your brain only perceives a snapshot of reality, filtered through a dozen layers of consciousness. Therefore, what you perceive has no bearing on reality per se, it only has a bearing on your perception of reality.

If I stick electrodes on my chest and belly and shock my muscles until they convulse, is this "exercise"? I'm stimulating my muscles, but no one would say that a shock and a bench-press are the same thing. in the same way, stimulating my brain meat directly and stimulating my brain meat through the real interaction with external objects is not the same thing even if I perceive it to be.
 

mango drank

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OP, this you?



Thinking about your question more, it's a mix of semantics and philosophy. It's a question of whether you want to redefine the word "reality" to mean "my subjective conscious experience, plus the overlap with others' subjective conscious experiences" (aka the shared, agreed-upon overlaps in your experiences). But if you're in a simulation, then by definition there's at least one more reality outside of yours, a "real-er" one, which is what's running your simulation in the first place. So your custom definition of the word "reality" has to be made up of at least two different meanings, at a minimum: 1. "my subjective conscious experience," and also 2. "the universe outside of my simulated universe."
 
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INCUBASE

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Smoke some DMT.
What you call 'reality' is just an extremly thin atmospheric filter layer that protects you against what the world really looks like.

It's disturbing. Almost unbearable.

You get to see the geometric fractal wizards
 

Stiflers Mom

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You get to see the geometric fractal wizards
Naah, I am talking about those few seconds after exhaling that feel like that thin layer of reality is being towed away from you. I have never experienced something similar with other hallucinogenic drugs.

It's so scary. You almost cannot bear to see how reality looks like without those filters your mind puts over it.
Very lovecraftian experience.

That's why people close their eyes and travel to that crystalline realm of multidimensional fractal space, communicating with the entities there.
 

INCUBASE

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Naah, I am talking about those few seconds after exhaling that feel like that thin layer of reality is being towed away from you. I have never experienced something similar with other hallucinogenic drugs.

It's so scary. You almost cannot bear to see how reality looks like without those filters your mind puts over it.
Very lovecraftian experience.

That's why people close their eyes and travel to that crystalline realm of multidimensional fractal space, communicating with the entities there.


DMT is on my bucket list, I dont know anyone trust worthy enough to get it off

It fascinates me, done most there hallucinating drugs, there's ok, but nothing amazing, most is just colour shifts and wavey lines
 

TeezzyD

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Living alone, and working from home, during quarantine has borked my world view hard. I dont socialize much these days. My mom passing didnt help either. It all feels like a fever dream and I often look forward to going to the grocery store for sanity. I'm an introvert who somehow thrives in social settings, and without that, I just sorta collapse into the void
 

Stiflers Mom

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DMT is on my bucket list, I dont know anyone trust worthy enough to get it off

It fascinates me, done most there hallucinating drugs, there's ok, but nothing amazing, most is just colour shifts and wavey lines

Yep, take care with it and prepare well.
Lie down somewhere where nothing can happen to you, and put a blanket over your body. You will feel a bit cold afterwards.
Also read into the best technical way how to evaporate that stuff properly or you will get a much lesser experience that is just a fancier but very short LSD kick.
 

INCUBASE

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Living alone, and working from home, during quarantine has borked my world view hard. I dont socialize much these days. My mom passing didnt help either. It all feels like a fever dream and I often look forward to going to the grocery store for sanity. I'm an introvert who somehow thrives in social settings, and without that, I just sorta collapse into the void

Get VR, in the right conditions is very social, and hilarious
 
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BluRayHiDef

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OP, this you?



Thinking about your question more, it's a mix of semantics and philosophy. It's a question of whether you want to redefine the word "reality" to mean "my subjective conscious experience, plus the overlap with others' subjective conscious experiences" (aka the shared, agreed-upon overlaps in your experiences). But if you're in a simulation, then by definition there's at least one more reality outside of yours, a "real-er" one, which is what's running your simulation in the first place. So your custom definition of the word "reality" has to be made up of at least two different meanings, at a minimum: 1. "my subjective conscious experience," and also 2. "the universe outside of my simulated universe."

No, that's not me. Anyhow, your explanation has raised another question: Does life as experienced in a simulation constitute a meaningful, respectful existence if the simulation is as perceptionally realistic as reality and if a community of humans experience life within it?
 

mango drank

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No, that's not me. Anyhow, your explanation has raised another question: Does life as experienced in a simulation constitute a meaningful, respectful existence if the simulation is as perceptionally realistic as reality and if a community of humans experience life within it?
Meaning is even more philosophical and subjective, and it's up to each individual observer. Personally, I'd say being able to make decisions about meaning hinges on whether simulated lifeforms are conscious or not, instead of just being machines with no inner world or subjective experience. But since consciousness itself is still a mystery to us here in the real world (assuming we're not in a simulation), combining it with another box of mysteries (simulation) just raises more questions for me:
  • What is consciousness / subjective experience in the first place? What physical laws are responsible for it? What are the mechanics of it? Why aren't we all just philosophical zombies, automatons with no inner world? Why do we have unique, individual points of view at all?
  • Can consciousness emerge in artificial lifeforms? We know organic lifeforms are conscious, but can inorganic matter give rise to consciousness too, as in e.g. an advanced AI inside a humanoid robot?
  • Is artificial consciousness different from organic consciousness somehow? Better or worse?
  • Is artificial consciousness just as valid as organic consciousness? Should it be able to decide what's meaningful? Why or why not?
  • If artificial consciousness can arise out of inorganic matter, can it also arise from virtual lifeforms inside a simulation? What about in lifeforms inside a simulation inside a simulation inside a simulation?
  • If consciousness can arise from virtual lifeforms inside a simulation, does the existence of that consciousness depend only on the virtual laws within the simulation, meaning the virtual consciousness is self-contained? Or does consciousness of any kind depend on the physical laws of the base bedrock universe? Meaning, the virtual consciousness is really just a tendril splintering off from the larger cosmic force that is bedrock consciousness?
EDIT: the above assumes "virtual lifeform" simulation. If we're talking about "brain in a vat" simulation, then ... again, meaning is subjective. The brain is already conscious in base reality, so it passes that test for me. Does the brain know it's in a simulated world, or is it unaware? I'd feel kinda bad for it if it didn't know the truth lol. But as far as meaning goes, I'd personally say its experience is meaningful either way.
 
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