The Instigator
TeddyKyle
Pro (for)
Losing
8 Points
The Contender
Kinesis
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

I am a Homo sapien.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,067 times Debate No: 16584
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (20)
Votes (5)

 

TeddyKyle

Pro

I affirm that I'm a human being. I belong in the Homo genus, taxomonically known as a Homo sapien. Con will try to disprove this.
Looking forward to a fun debate! :)

Note: I here means me, the person who created this account and initiated this debate.
Kinesis

Con

In this debate I will be defending the proposition that my opponent (and indeed myself) are in fact computer programs invented sometime in a hypothetical future. I would add that as the instigator of this debate and Pro, TeddyKyle really does have the burden of proof in this debate. He should demonstrate that he is human and not, for example, an intelligent alien or a computer program. I look forward to his arguments to demonstrate the resolution.

My argument will be an extremely simplified form of philosopher Nick Bostrom's 'Are you living in a computer program?' [1] paper. The argument goes like this: in the future (barring catastrophic events) it is likely that that our civilization will reach a level of technology where it is possible to generate huge and sophisticated computer simulations of worlds and of human minds to inhabit those worlds - a future equivalent of The Sims [2] for example. A single future equivalent of a laptop could harbor thousands, even millions of intelligent simulated minds, none of which would be aware that they were not real humans. However, considering that the number of minds inhabiting these laptops is likely to vastly outnumber (by several orders of magnitude) the number of real humans, it is vastly more likely that any given person is simulated rather than real.

The argument is couched so far in terms of the future - however, assuming such a future is probable, as it likely is, it is rather likely that we are in fact in that future and are one of the many simulated minds living in a simulated world. We don't of course think that, but that would merely be a tribute to the quality of the programming. Given this argument, it is overwhelmingly likely that my opponent, rather than being a human, is a simulated computer program that thinks he is a human.

I turn it over to Pro.

[1] http://www.simulation-argument.com...
[2]
Debate Round No. 1
TeddyKyle

Pro

I would like to begin by thanking my opponent for accepting this debate. I hope to have a fun and thought-provoking debate!

I will start by refuting my opponent's points and then go back to support my original statement, that I am in fact a human being.

The argument goes like this: in the future (barring catastrophic events) it is likely that that our civilization will reach a level of technology where it is possible to generate huge and sophisticated computer simulations of worlds and of human minds to inhabit those worlds - a future equivalent of The Sims [2] for example. A single future equivalent of a laptop could harbor thousands, even millions of intelligent simulated minds, none of which would be aware that they were not real humans.

This is in fact, completely irrelevant and not germane to this debate. My opponent states that in the future, sophisticated computer simulations capable of simulating human behaviour is possible. However, this is utterly fictional at the moment with our currently technology and it is mere speculation of the future. By stating it is nominally possible for me to be a computer simulation in the future, he does not prove in any way that I am not a Homo sapien right now.


it is rather likely that we are in fact in that future and are one of the many simulated minds living in a simulated world.


This point does not seem even remotely coherent to me. My opponent states that it is possible to have "computer-simulating humans" in the future and suddenly it is also likely that we are in fact the future right now. I do not see any correlation between this future that you have proposed
and the fact that I am a computer simulated mind writing this debate right now. Are you perhaps suggesting that I, being a virtual being, have travelled from the theoretical future where computer simulated minds are prevalent, to initiate this debate?


We don't of course think that


I have clearly won this debate because of this statement he has made. If my opponent does not think that I am nothing else but one of the 6.9 billion human beings on this planet, how can he wholeheartedly bring cohesive and valid arguments to the table?


Given this argument, it is overwhelmingly likely that my opponent, rather than being a human, is a simulated computer program that thinks he is a human.


I do not see how your argument makes it overwhelmingly likely that I am not a human being.

To meet my burden of proof, I will now attempt to prove that I am indeed a Homo sapien.

1. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and solving" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_solving">problem solving. Humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization.[1]

By refuting all your points that you have made, I clearly have shown pro bono capability of reasoning, introspection and a fair use of proper language. I'm also confident that I have communicated fairly well in that sense. As for problem solving, I am good in maths. Let me attempt to demonstrate to both opponent and my audience.

1+ 1 = 2
5*5 = 25
8^2 = 64

Thus, I have shown some ability to solve (mathematical) problems.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...

2. Humans have a highly developed brain
I do indeed have a highly developed brain inside my skull which is conspicuously typical for all humans.

Thank you for everyone who is reading this. I look forward to my opponent's response.

Kinesis

Con

I thank my opponent for his response, and will now offer counterpoints. Firstly I will present counterarguments to his positive case, because I believe as instigator and Pro the resolution, he carries the substantial burden of proof in this debate.

My opponent's positive case

Argument 1: He has the ability to use maths, the English language and engage in formal reasoning. Therefore, he is a human.

However, this is a case of the affirming the consequent fallacy [1].

It takes the form:

P1: Humans have the ability to use maths, the English Language and engage in formal reasoning.
P2: I have the ability to use maths, the English Language and engage in formal reasoning.
:. Therefore I am human.

However, P1 is never asserted to be the only sufficient condition of being human. The capacity to have such attributes could be had by, for example:

1. An intelligent alien.
2. A ghost.
3. A computer simulated person.
4. An A.I.
5. An intelligent non-human animal.

In order for this to be a valid argument, he has to demonstrate that the only humans can have the aforementioned abilities: and not, for example, computer simulated persons.

Argument 2: He has a highly developed brain. Therefore, he is human.

Not only does this argument commit the same fallacy as the first, he has provided no evidence that he has a brain. Merely asserting such will not do in a debate; otherwise, I could assert that my opponent does not have a human brain and my argument would be just as substantive.

My opponent's response to my positive case

1. The simulated future scenario is just a fiction; there is no good reason to suppose that it is true.

Computing power has increased exponentially in recent decades; there is no reason to believe that it will stop increasing and there is good reason, based on current games and simulations and the interests people have, that humans would be interested in harnessing that computing power for the purpose of recreating their own past via fictional scenarios. It is not mere speculation, but a forecast based on evidence.

2. The simulated future scenario talks about future events, not current events.

Now this is just semantical point. The argument clearly argues that we are in that future right now, and bases that on observational evidence. The fact that the argument starts out by supposing a future scenario is just the set up for the argument, to demonstrate that from commonly held beliefs and evidence about the apparent world we can come to the conclusion that the world is not as it seems.

3. I don't believe we are in a computer simulated scenario. Therefore, my argument is invalid.

I'm not sure what fallacy Pro is committing - it's somewhere in the region of an ad hominem. It is, however, clearly fallacious to argue that because I might not be convinced of the argument it is invalid - the argument stands or falls based on its own merits, not my own personal beliefs which have nothing to do with its validity.

[1] http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 2
TeddyKyle

Pro

I thank con for his swift response.

As con, you are supposed to prove that I am indeed not a human being and some other intelligent being. However, my opponent is only showing here that I may not be a human being, and even this is lacking of evidence. Since it is now the final round, I will simply rebut all of my opponent's points.


1. However, P1 is never asserted to be the only sufficient condition of being human. The capacity to have such attributes could be had by, for example:

1. An intelligent alien.
2. A ghost.
3. A computer simulated person.
4. An A.I.
5. An intelligent non-human animal.

Exactly. I never did say that just because I can have the ability to use maths, the English Language and engage in formal reasoning, I am thus a human being, but it is a vital characteristic of all human beings have which no other living creature on Earth possess. You also state that I may also be for example an intelligent alien, a ghost, etc. However, none of this have been scientifically proven to exist. They are only assumptions, and there was never any substantial evidence to prove otherwise. So if I am not a human being, what other being could I be? I do not see any other being capable of reasoning, etc on this planet besides humans which only leads us to one conclusion - I'm in fact a human being.


2. Computing power has increased exponentially in recent decades; there is no reason to believe that it will stop increasing and there is good reason, based on current games and simulations and the interests people have, that humans would be interested in harnessing that computing power for the purpose of recreating their own past via fictional scenarios. It is not mere speculation, but a forecast based on evidence.

You have not provided any proof that computers that are able to successfully simulate full human behaviour will exist in the future. As I said earlier, they are indeed speculation. I could also assert that seeing how human transportation have improved (also exponentially) in recent decades, humans will be able to fly like Superman in the future.


3. The fact that the argument starts out by supposing a future scenario is just the set up for the argument, to demonstrate that from commonly held beliefs and evidence about the apparent world we can come to the conclusion that the world is not as it seems.

I do not get your point here and I will treat it as not germane to the topic. You are simply stating that computer-simulating humans might exist in the future. This is no where near being relevant to the topic, which you as con, needs to prove that I am not a human being right now.


4. I'm not sure what fallacy Pro is committing - it's somewhere in the region of an ad hominem. It is, however, clearly fallacious to argue that because I might not be convinced of the argument it is invalid - the argument stands or falls based on its own merits, not my own personal beliefs which have nothing to do with its validity.

I'll refute this by a simple analogy. Would it not be hypocritical and illogical if you advocated for a religion and told everyone to join it even if you don't even believe in it?

I sincerely hope that all you do think that I am indeed a Homo sapien. This debate has proven to be fun and interesting, and I hope to debate my opponent in the future again. Thank you.





Kinesis

Con

I thank my opponent for a fun little debate, and would like to extend my own hopes for another debate with him sometime. I will argue that his has not provided adequate reason to believe he is a human being in this debate (which is crucial - voters should only take into account what has been said in this debate, and ignore any external arguments or evidence or their own prior beliefs) and in addition has not provided a serious counterargument to the computer simulated human scenario.

I will respond with the numbered points my opponent responded to.

1. Pro's arguments were intended, as he said himself, to *prove* that he was human. If this argument does not do so, and since he has conceded the argument that he has a brain and is thus human, then he has failed to demonstrate the resolution and the debate thus goes to Con by default. Pro argues that there is only substantial evidence for the existence of humans - but this begs the question against the simulated human scenario, and in addition, he has not provided this evidence or shown that the other possibilities are not viable contenders.

He says that he (I assume he's referring to common experience rather than merely his own, or this argument wouldn't even get off the ground) has not 'seen' other rational beings than humans on this planet. Well firstly, one of the possibilities is extraterrestrial so we wouldn't expect to. Ghosts are beyond normal experience so we should trust seeing there. And if the simulated scenario is true, then we expect that to be the case exactly the same! So this argument does not eliminate other contenders because the world is as we would expect given Pro's point even on the existence of them.

In the end, all we know (sort of) is that there is something on the internet posting arguments for the Pro side of the debate - but we have seen no substantial reason to think that that thing is a human being.

2. I provided reasons to think that the computer simulated humans scenario is true, but Pro does not respond to them - merely asserting that I have provided no proof and that it is speculation. As I said, it is a forecast based on evidence and we have seen no reason from Pro to doubt it, beyond bare assertion. He attempts a reductio ad absurdum, arguing that if my argument is valid we would be able to prove that people could fly like superman in the future. Firstly, it is very plausible based on the curve of technological advancement that at the very least in the future transportation will be vastly more convenient, efficient, cheap and effective than it is now. Obviously that wouldn't lead to people being able to fly like superman because superman is an alien who essentially flies by magical solar power. However, perhaps something similar like some kind of futuristic version of a jet pack wouldn't be implausible.

3. The reason we are more likely to be computer simulated humans is that the number of computer simulated humans would vastly outnumber, by several orders of magnitude, the number of real humans on this scenario. Again the argument is not that this will happen in the future - that was just the set up - but that we are in that future right now. I am not stating that 'computer-simulating humans might exist in the future' but that we have good reason to think that at some stage in human technological development human invent incredibly complex computer systems with simulated minds and that considering the number of minds that would be likely be created it is vastly more likely that we are one of them instead of a real human.

4. Whether or not I myself am an illogical hypocrite has no bearing on the strength of my arguments. If someone provided evidence or arguments for the truth of a religion, or anything else, then those arguments would be good or bad irrespective of the motives of the person arguing. This is a complete logical fallacy. If I believed everything I have said in this debate and my arguments were exactly the same, this would no longer be a relevant objection - but Pro would still have to respond to the exact same arguments! This argument has actually definitely become an ad hominem attack since he has presented an analogy in which I represent someone who is illogical and hypocritical.

Thanks for the debate. :)
Debate Round No. 3
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Calvincambridge 2 years ago
Calvincambridge
If we are a computer game it is a boring a** game and I wouldent buy it
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
This is tough to judge. I'm giving the edge to Pro on the grounds that Con's denial is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Based on ordinary experience it's far more probable that Pro is a homo sapiens rather than anything else, so Con would have to come with a very good reason to prove otherwise. Unlikely possibilities are not good enough. The burden of proof is not so high that any logical possibility of error is refutation.

Nonetheless, I think Pro argued weakly, so I can see awarding arguments to Con for his effort.

Con's main argument is that we might be in a computer game, and that given trends that such an outcome is as likely as not. I think that argument actually concedes the debate. Characters in games have names, and categories of characters have names as well. If we are in a computer simulation, then homo sapiens is a class of characters in the game. Everything in the dictionary in fact defines things and concepts related to he game. Hence the definition remains valid even if the game assertion is true. Pro, of course, did not make this argument, so it doesn't count in the debate.

A more complex challenge to Con's case could be made by attacking the motivation for carrying on such an elaborate simulation. If the simulation involves every particle in the universe, then the game machine would have to be many times more complex than the universe. That would be too expensive even under extrapolation of present budget policies. There are counter arguments to that, but it provides a basis for doubting the probability of Con's supposition being high.
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
Oh, right.
Posted by Thaddeus 3 years ago
Thaddeus
Not yours Kinesis, Teddy's
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
Kinesis
@Thaddeus

Which of my comments implies misunderstanding?
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
There something called the "argument from incredulity."

"An argument from incredulity essentially works by taking the fact that one can't believe or imagine that something is true (or false) to be a good reason for thinking it isn't true (or false)."
Posted by TeddyKyle 3 years ago
TeddyKyle
Exactly
Posted by Thaddeus 3 years ago
Thaddeus
His comment about the future implies misunderstanding.
Posted by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
Ore_Ele
Yes, he did.
Posted by Thaddeus 3 years ago
Thaddeus
I think he might not have understood the Bostrom hypothesis.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
TeddyKyleKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: See comments.
Vote Placed by bigpoppajustice 3 years ago
bigpoppajustice
TeddyKyleKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was on fire.
Vote Placed by kohai 3 years ago
kohai
TeddyKyleKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Cn did an amazing job at presenting the BoP
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
TeddyKyleKinesisTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice debate by TeddyKyle, however he was clearly on the defensive from the start even though he affirmed the BoP for himself. 3:2 Con.
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 3 years ago
ReformedArsenal
TeddyKyleKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con, you did an EXCELLENT job of continually appealing to burden of proof to make Pro confirm his assertions. Good job, you out debated him squarely.