IEET > Vision > Virtuality > Directors > Giulio Prisco > Philosophy > Futurism > Technoprogressivism
No Mans Sky: A Deist Simulated Universe
Giulio Prisco   Aug 24, 2016   Turing Church  

I don’t play No Man’s Sky (yet?), the pictures here were taken by my friend Extropia DaSilva who is busy exploring the simulated universe. Perhaps I will follow, but perhaps not: I am sure I would love No Man’s Sky and find it addictive, but I prefer to develop visions of hope for everyone to visit, one day, the big No Man’s Sky out there. However, No Man’s Sky is the richest simulation that we have developed so far, and an impressive technological feat.

No Man’s Sky is a simulated universe with more than 18 quintillion planets – players can explore 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 different planets, with unique geography, features, and strange life forms (see one in the picture below). Now, how could the game developers code that much detail? They didn’t: the simulated universe is procedurally generated, with the generation driven by overall design specifications and mathematical templates.

So No Man’s Sky is an example of a Deist universe: the creators set overall laws and parameters the would generate an interesting universe, and let the creation unfold.

God did something like that, too:

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures… Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” – Genesis

These passages in the Genesis can be interpreted as saying that God didn’t create life (the sea and land animals) “manually,” but rather created the universe (the waters and the earth) in such a way that it would bring forth life.

Of course No Man’s Sky is only a first attempt at simulating a universe: the game has only crude macroscopic physics, no chemistry and biology, and no evolution. The life forms that can be found on No Man’s Sky planets haven’t evolved, but have been placed there as finished products.

But a long road starts with a short step, and it’s interesting to speculate about future simulations. For example, imagine a future No Man’s Sky -like universe on steroids at the end of the century. It seems plausible that the simulation – let’s call it NMS 2100 – could include evolutionary algorithms to generate life forms from basic simulated biochemistry. Also, some life forms could be – but that remains a big IF until a viable theory of consciousness is developed – sentient beings, perhaps not smart like people but smart like pets. If so, wouldn’t you want to take care of Pokemon-like critters on a lonely planet lost in the immensity of NMS 2100, and perhaps copy them to a better place?

Is our reality a super NMS-like simulation computed in a higher level of reality? Some imaginative scientists and thinkers are persuaded that it could be, and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors (and soon Mars colonization) fame has recently said that he considers the simulation hypothesis as very probably correct.

I think reality can be thought of as a hugely complex computation (“sim”) running in an even more complex computing system (let’s call it “Mind”) beyond our understanding, and consciousness could be able to somehow interact with the underlying digital reality – for example, your favorite pet could poke you and send you a distress signal in case of need. The reality-sim could be a Deist job like NMS, generated procedurally by physical laws and initial conditions (actually, that sounds trivially true) and unfolding more or less automatically. But perhaps there are hooks in the physical laws of our sim that “players” like Extie can use to intervene a bit in the sim, now and then. For example, the reality-sim could have its quantum physics driven by processes that seem random to us, but can be tweaked by the players.

So we can recover Theism – the idea of a personal, caring and loving God – at the level of the players, if not at the level of the overall system design. A more complex being can “descend to the level” of a less complex being (for example, I am perfectly able to communicate with my doggy in ways she can understand). In particular, the players – Gods – could answer our prayers and grant resurrection in a better sim.

Giulio Prisco is a writer, technology expert, futurist and transhumanist. A former manager in European science and technology centers, he writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, including science, information technology, emerging technologies, virtual worlds, space exploration and future studies. He serves as President of the Italian Transhumanist Association.


‘God’ in a childish fit bordering on the pathologically murderous doomed all life to extinction for humans [a woman at that] to eat of the tree of life and gain knowledge without which we would still be in caves. So this ‘God’ doomed us humans to death of which this soul vampire feeds. Time to cut off the link through enlightened thoughts and actions. Time to allow this monster to atrophy before ‘it’ unleashes the Apocalypse.

My opinion on the Apocalypse is that who are we to know if it’s happened or not, or if it will happen?  I mean we can’t feasibly deduce that the “Sun will rise tomorrow.” (Inductive Reasoning….unless that’s been solved).  And to base it off of historical “Trends” seem just as iffy.  (add in notions of mind control/thought implantation of memories….which we seem to be heading towards).  Thus we get to a point where one can’t really feasibly rely upon their past, or future…only their present moment.  And that falls apart because of “illusions”.  Does one have a real time feed of reality?  No, because according to science there is a time delay between response/signal.

So what is “certain”...kind of Descartes “I think therefore I am”, but that is inherited information.  Although so is, “I AM WHO I AM”, Exodus 3:14 (that came before Descartes).  Thus what can one rely upon?  I’d say themselves, but they also must realize that they can condemn themselves.  Internalized guilt/shame vs. externalized guilt/shame.  I don’t know if this is true, but supposedly Eastern cultures internalize said guilt/shame more readily than Western cultures.

But what is the purpose to guilt/shame?  Does it serve a function?  Can one learn from those moments?  Yes, and in fact that is the function that it seems to serve.  To socialize a person.  Although there are those that don’t feel shame/guilt (psychopaths by definition, apparently).  To an extent that one is condemned by the Other (essentially God is the pinnacle Other).  One is in the Other’s power.  Although the Other is another psychological function, like the Shadow.  It goes by many names, but it is the part that we can’t accept about ourselves (or what we aspire to).  The question that can remain is the internalization/externalization of Guilt/Shame via the Other.  Does one embrace the psychological pain that come with such condemnations?  To dig into that well of misery?  To subsume the identity to the waters of emotionalism, and drown in the instability?  Counter to “Rational” culture?

I think I did, I don’t feel guilty, or have the need to condemn Others for my failings (projection of the psyche).  God is just a symbol to me, and I feel like I can interpret/create it however I wish.  As with everything.  I almost feel like a child at Eternal play right now.  Some things are “dangerous/harmful”, but how is that realized?  By playing with it.

Thanks, Instamatic.  I aim to please (either myself, or the Other…, but mostly myself at the moment).  I think the notion of a screenplay would be fun.  I’m partial to the notion of an Ironic Tragedy…in the “Life” vein.  The spooky part is thinking that one is actually creating a world(view) when working on such projects.  Ex; my game design/novel.  I tend to incorporate my thoughts into them, and how I see the world.  Thus they are essentially my worldview/legacy, but they get really “meta” (aka Mind screw/fu*k).  Mainly because the theme is tied to “Transcendence” (Ubermensch; The Chosen…et al).  And coupled with the notion that it’s sort of a satire…it’s a Game, but has “Serious Messages”...  It’s beautiful…. at least in my head.

Overall though, I think I have a good impression of what you mean.

I’m recalled of one the Professors I met in college now.  He’s retried now, but his main message that he was trying to drive home in the one course (it was a volunteer/request course) I took with him was that “Life’s a Game”.  He had a project where the students (me and others) had to discuss what we learned in “Fractional Calculus” (a variant of calculus he says was concocted by a pair of Russians, and a bottle of vodka while Americans were killing themselves by the score (US Civil War)).

Essentially, he wanted “mind-screws” to get people to question, and cope with The Ambiguity of Life.  Being that I had started my game years ago, and had mentioned it to him in passing.  He let me present upon what I was working on.  I’ll admit that I winged the presentation, and that it was slightly garbled on my end.  And yet the idea(s) still got across.  How does one deal with a “losing game” that they “can’t quit” (Suicide Y/N?)  A game that the rules may change from version to version, and interpretation to interpretation.

The presentation was scheduled to last for ~15 minutes, but the debate started by my questions/ideas lasted the whole hour.  It devolved into heated debate about said notions (the Prof mouthed a quiet, “Thank you”, to me during the argument).  How does one “deal with the System” (The MAN….etc)?  Is it possible to do what Kirk did (Star Trek)?  Pull a Kobyashi Maru?  Break the rules to win a no-win situation?  Now, I’d say Yes….it’s perfectly allowable.

There are generally no limitations except self-imposed limitations, so in regards to the life without computers.  It’s possible, but I don’t think it’d be “awful”.  I’m barely on my computer anymore.  I only use it to really read this site on occasion, emails, Facebook (keep in touch with college friends), music, and work on my projects.  All of which I could feasibly do by hand/writing/alternatively, and may be more “nostalgic” if I were to do so.

If I needed to, I know I could drop the “Net”/Computers.  Much like I did with TV, haven’t really watched it in a decade (don’t follow any shows, and I don’t even know what’s on….and I’m not on Netflix either).  I live under a “rock”, but it’s my rock…(cognitive bubble, so tie in your thoughts about Orthodox if you wish).

Interesting, and to play Devil’s advocate.  Why does the biosphere need to be saved?  Is it for the glory of “Life”, or to maintain a set “status quo”?  I mean early Earth supposedly had a CO2 atmosphere, and it wasn’t until early life evolved/transitioned to producing a gas that killed most of themselves off called O2.  That allowed us to come about.  The atmosphere we have may be an aberration in that schema.

As a result of some of these thoughts, I don’t think that there is much “change” in the universe (change being a constant, or the notion of the Block Universe in physics).  At least when compiled with conservation of Mass & Energy (neither can be truly created, nor destroyed…they may “change forms”, but they’ll always exist).  Thus “living in Harmony” seems a little absurd to me.  The essence of what we are combined with how little we actually know about anything.  Makes me extremely leery of “prophetic inclinations” (this future is/may happen,...sure if you believe in it, and make it come about, or don’t do anything to change it), or statements about what reality actually is.

I mean wouldn’t it be conceivable for the “Elect” you refer to, to be nothing more than the “friends/chosen/few” that are in the “know”.  I’m not quite certain if my wording is getting the thought across, but an example may work better.  Consider your friend group, and now consider my friend group (I do have one).  There is no “knowledge/awareness” of whom constitutes as what to the opposite party.  You don’t really know my friends, and I don’t really know yours (as far as I know).  And yet, who’d be more likely for us/one to save?  Someone that we know, like a friend, or a complete stranger (an ethical question of killing 1000 (arbitrary #) of strangers, for the life of a true friend)?  The thought is, who would you save, and how would this apply to a God?  Say that his/her Elect are just those that know them, and are accepted into their “circle”.  Also tie in the notion/idea of “7 degrees of separation”.

It doesn’t preclude, or invalidate the notion that there is more than one avenue of “salvation”.  Save yourself, and maybe you can save others?  That there is no “zero-sum game” to being saved?  Meaning that my seat of “salvation” isn’t dependent upon your seat of “salvation”.  There is not one chair that we are fighting over.  This I think eludes a lot of people.  Mainly because our domains of “operation” are so small compared to the larger scheme.  As a collective sure, humanity has an impact, but when does humanity mobilize on a mass scale?  We’re starting to a little, with saving the biosphere, but still.

It’s kinda like a notion of your enemy may be my friend, but does that make me an enemy to you?  And are you my enemy because my friend doesn’t like you?  How fine of a scale does relations come into play with a God?  Isn’t it supposed to be a “personal relationship”?

Ha, fair enough.  I came to IEET for what I thought was Ethics/Science (forward thinkers), but have mostly stuck around for the debates/conversations in the comments….  I will say that I sort of needed this place a few couple of years ago (mainly to hash out thoughts).  To talk with people outside my main “life cluster”.

I almost forgot about the article, but it didn’t quite seem that novel from my perspective (sorry Giulio).  I mean in a sense we’ve already have 7+ billion stories/narratives being told daily on one planet.  We may feature as side-actors in another’s narrative, but we can only be the star in our own.  I thought such notions were sort of “common sense”.  Although I tend to make overly broad generalizations sometimes, but it seems like a lot of these later articles seem to “blur” together (like Rick Searle’s article on “Our Emerging Culture of Shame” & this one…at least in the comments….although that may be me again).

And yet, this makes perfect sense.  We’re all talking/examining/wondering about the same system (Reality through different facets/lenses), but what?  We’re trying to convince ourselves & others of the merits of our thoughts?  To do what exactly?  Reaffirm, or create our own little worldviews?  To share in the revelry of Life (at least for me)?  I mean seriously, it essentially boils down to what one believes, or want’s to believe (self-fulfilling prophecy).  Along with what one has been conditioned to believe.  All to at least avoid the burnout/crash of the “After-Life Party”  ;D.

Wow many interesting comments! (most off-topic, but anyway…)

@instamatic re “Overall, what I learned most from IEET is that S is blurring the distinction between S and F.”

S and F have never been truly apart. Science fiction is part of science, because it’s what motivates science. Life imitates Art.

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