I am surprised that: I exist at all; the vast majority of possible things do not exist. I am alive; the vast majority of real things are dead. I have a brain; the vast majority of living things have none.
I don't understand what it means to be surprised that 'you' are not not a mammal.
snarles, I think fatalism is the most rational reaction, but the most rational agents don't always persist in the context of incomplete information.
For example, the scenario of "I am PROBABLY an exact simulation of a human from the past".
Aris Katsaris, I think you misunderstand the simulation hypothesis, which I think is strong even if misused by its creators.
It's a simple probabilities argument based on the distribution of simulations of a system in the only system we know -ours. I'd analogize it to skepticism that the earth or the sun is the center of the universe. I think it's more likely that we're N simulations deep -and I'd like to see that N calculated with some rigor (I forget if someone has already directed me to a link that does the calculation).
It really has nothing to do with how special or surprised Prof. Hanson feels.
Our reality seems callous, and I think the tendency is to sheild ourselves from the callousness. We tend to hide the dying and the severely disfigured, but they exist in all the variations one would expect from a randomishly callous reality. I doubt the next level up simulation (since I doubt we're only one order removed from nonsimulated reality) is expending resources preserving our conscious experience, any more than they're expending resources to prevent the distribution of experience as an extremely disfigured burn victim.
Reading this list just reminds me of Doomsday Argument, the areas with the most "measure" (or whatever) might be immediately prior to some big catastrophe. In that sense it is less surprising we are smart and rich because most people exist around that time.
You're definitely jumping the gun with 7. Civilization is fragile. You or me could suffer a fatal accident at any time. Mankind could suffer a fatal accident.
Put another way: if an omnipotent being outside of time randomly selected an animal which had lived on the Earth at some point to study and selected you, that omnipotent being might be surprised about 3 and onward. (I have reservations about whether it is possible to meaningfully talk about 1 or 2.) But you are not an omnipotent being outside of time and you did not randomly select yourself. I'm not a fan of invoking the anthropic principle (it feels to me more like a cached thought than an argument), but in this case it really seems like that's what's going on here.
I think the difference lies in what questions you're asking when you get surprised. If you investigate a phenomenon and are surprised by what you find, you should probably try to update your theories about the phenomenon. But it's not clear to me what phenomenon you're investigating when you are surprised by observations you make about your own life; isn't it possible you could be finding a phenomenon to fit the surprise rather than the other way around?
this post seems strangely religious to me.Robin's surprises 1-9 cause him to take the simulation theory more seriosuly.For many people things like 1-9 cause them to conclude that there is a God, who has a individual purpose and plan for them.
perhaps those two things are not dissimilar.
Yes the fact that I am cognitively able to actually be surprised predicts other things, and given that fact those other things are no longer surprising. But the fact that I am able to be surprised is itself surprising! The numbers of cycles you can carry one of these infinite regressions in your mind probably depends on how smart you are.You can carry more of them than I can. The surprising thing is that the concept of infinity and similar ones comes so easily to humans.I have never heard anyone discuss this. It is not a mathematical ability.For example alcohol consumption seems not to inhibit it and perhaps fuels it. Have you ever tried to do calculus or even balance a check book when you are drunk? How ever abstruse speculations ,Ah yes.
Qiaochu - you have a good point with respect to measurements on large objects, such as humans.
Given that there are an enormous number of possible dimensions along which to measure any given object in the universe, for any given object it should be easy to find a few interesting-sounding ones along which it is exceptional.would be less plausible on objects like hydrogen atoms.
the vast majority of possible things are inexpressed
the universe is a rational paradigm and as a result metabolic.
I'd also consider that I was in a simulation created by a rival of those folks. The possibility that we're n-simulations deep in a prediction by some entity who has a forthcoming decision to optimize seems plausible to me. Also I thinks it's more likely that this is a reduced simulation for a decision about something specific than a general simulation for more of a basic research about reality purpose.
So the people and organizations on a contested track to rule the world we live in presently would be my best guess for the subjects of the simulation, by some older, "realer" version of them in a place that resembles our near future.
I just added to the post.
Robin, why do you imagine so easily that "your" descendants will think of you as the same human-like species?
The last ones bring to mind the Texas sharpshooter fallacy:
just got your bill hicks reference...