Reality and Simulations

Press a button, boil some water!

Press a button, boil some water!

This is about Reality and Simulations.

This dichotomy (Reality vs. Simulation) is a good tool to understand the world that we live in because the number of Simulations has increased exponentially in the last couple of years, while Reality (Nature) is something significantly less experienced.

Urbanisation (everybody moving into the cities leaving only minorities to live in rural areas) is characteristic of industrialised societies which come very near to losing all contact with Reality (Nature).

More people become isolated in their little apartments (like I am, for example) fitted out to live comfortably in Simulations: Air-conditioned rooms, convenient washing machine, “natural sunlight” lamps…

Things to wear, things to sleep in, things to keep you warm at night, things to cook from and things to eat from.

All of these things are now (or we think that they should be) within everybody’s reach.

This way we can simulate Reality in a lot of places. You can simulate fire by pressing a button on the oven: You’re only pressing a button, you don’t need to do much.

The Simulations are now so deeply embedded in our lives that we don’t notice them; we think that they’re part of Reality.

They’re not. Well, they haven’t been until about 50 years ago.

Let’s set the clock to the time when the TV set begins to appear in living rooms, along with every other electrical appliance: 1950s America / Western Europe.

Electricity allows us to speed things up; steam is a bit slower.

We started to use electricity on a mass scale about 50 years ago, even though it feels very natural to us.

That’s how much we’ve accelerated and electricity feels so basic that we forgot it’s a Simulation of Reality.

A really difficult Simulation to achieve in Reality: We’re imitating a spark, right?

We observed fire in nature and started to use fire to make steam, then perhaps somebody thought “Well, if the lightning (electricity discharge) lit the fire, then maybe electricity can be used [as a source of energy] as well”. Remember lucky Benjamin Franklin and his lightning rod.

We’ve used fire to make steam to get our energy and even now we’re still burning things to get our energy, but we forget what is the original source since it comes to us through a wire:

Everyone is now connected with lines of electricity.

Our place right now (the Reality in which we are right now) is full of helpful Simulations.

A lot of the things that we learn, we learn them from a computer screen.

I think you can even learn a foreign language sitting down in front of the computer screen, whereas 100 years ago you had to go around and try to talk with the people who spoke the language: You had to be physically present in those areas where the language was spoken.

Information access: It’s at our fingertips.

Nonetheless, this knowledge is not available to most users because there are too many Simulations perceived as Reality, because there is:

1. too much to fully grasp &

2. too much to be comfortable with.

Let us consider how Reality and Simulations differ.

  • In the Simulation, everything has been programmed, designed and nicely polished for you personally to move in.
  • In Reality, nothing has been arranged for you specifically and you’re just lucky to be born into this.

No grand designer in nature.

There have been certain laws of nature, which have produced us, and we’ve created some other rules, giving us the feeling that these rules are also part of Reality, but they’re only part of a Simulated Reality.

All the rules and laws are based on knowledge (information) about how one can simulate (and deal with) Reality.

In a Simulation you could be so absorbed that you wouldn’t notice it until Reality kicks back in the form of an accident.

Let’s say that you’re vacuum cleaning your house in a perfect Simulation (i.e., a computer game):

You click on all the places you want cleaned and there’s always a clear set of movements to be followed and everything goes nice and smoothly. Done. Never a glitch.

Now, let’s say that you’re vacuum cleaning your house in Reality; bear in mind that you’re still not fully anchored in Reality because the vacuum cleaner is also based on a Simulation:

You press a button, the electrons arrange themselves and (presto) you have the power to suck with air all the stuff that’s disturbing you in the space that you have, also designed by somebody else.

How can you tell the difference? You can identify Reality when it bursts your Simulation bubble with a plastic bag which clogs your vacuum cleaner and makes you realise:

Oh no, this is Reality, this is not programmed”.

How do you deal with this problem?

Notice that, if it’s a perfect Simulation, the Simulation designers would give you several options:

  1. Give up using the vacuum cleaner and use a broom
  2. Try to fix the vacuum cleaner
  3. etc.
  4. etc.

The crucial element in a perfect Simulation is that, if the designers have bothered to introduce a problem in the Simulation, then it has some significance and there must be a solution:

Just click around some more!

So you do something about it, perhaps clean the filter, try to remove it by yourself, it depends on what options the Simulation offers you.

On the other hand, if this happens in Reality, this is only an accident.

You don’t think it has meaning (i.e., significance): It’s an accident!

You start feeling like “Oh, bummer!” It’s a mistake that you’ve made when you vacuum-cleaned the plastic bag.

Reality appears as a mistake because it breaks your illusion of a Simulation running smoothly. It shatters your feelings of power and control over Reality.

Of course you don’t control this power! You just happen to think that you can control it. Don’t forget to say thank you to Edison and everybody else who made it possible to power that piece of electrical equipment in your house.

This doesn’t mean we have to go back to the Stone Age.

It just means we have to realise that we are running some risks when we live too much with Simulations.

What are the risks? If we insist on controlling Nature and seeing it as an occasional accident spoiling our carefully-laid plans, we are in fact running away from Reality when we don’t face our simulations as Simulations. When we refuse to see what they do in our lives and how they affect our psychology.

How different it is to think

“Oh, God, I have to waste more time fixing this and I don’t know how; who should I call?”

as opposed to

a short moment of insight, an epiphany that you live in a world full of wonder, full of magic, full of things that have been crafted for you by innumerable hands…

So we need to give something back and we need to make sure that in making these things we aren’t destroying something infinitely more important and more valuable.

Is the electricity coming into your house obtained by burning the planet?

If the answer is “yes”

How much can we keep burning?

If the answer is “not a lot”

What are we doing to stop burning?

If we need to switch soon

What technologies do we have at our disposal that don’t burn the planet?

Those are the questions, but the first “technology” is us because we don’t normally know much about energy generating technologies.

How many people know how to operate a power plant that involves burning gas or I don’t know what? So we need to start at home:

Go easy on consumption. Stop treating yourself like a King or a Queen, no matter where you are.

Remember to be grateful for what you have.

Don’t search for perfect stability, perfect safety and perfect security because it doesn’t exist and it shouldn’t exist (in Reality).

If you feel that perfect stability/safety/security exists, that’s just because of your wilful ignorance of others.

This is my message to everybody out there who wants to live comfortably in Simulations:

Come back to Reality! Come back from all that for a moment, for a couple of hours.

You don’t have to leave the Simulations forever, you can soon go back to a comfortable Simulation.

I am also living in comfortable Simulations since I’m probably using too much water every day.

However, I am trying to become aware of the consequences of my actions in Reality.

I’m trying and I hope you’re trying too.

The more people try, the more chances we have to make it better.

Not perfect, remember, just betterkaizen (Change-into-Good 改善).

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