Designing A Game That Teaches Real Business Skills

If a team of game developers wants to build this game, please contact me. It is a game that teaches real business skills. I increasingly see these open-world games which allow you to choose your life path based on what conversational options are chosen. How about we start leveraging this technology to better prepare people on the quest to become rich in the real world.

We may take common sense for granted, but the fact is that even making our bed requires training subroutines on subroutines and then running them at will from muscle memory. Our brains must rehearse the motions before becoming adept at something, and often the difference between having pre-established neural pathways or not having such etched-and-burned passages is the difference between feeling the drive to perform a given action.

Being business-savvy may feel common sense from a distance, but developing the skill actually requires embodiment. And that’s why a game that properly projects the player into real life business situations would probably hold more value than all middle school and high school combined.

For example, it is said that the most important question to ask the business seller is ‘Why do you want to sell?’ Nothing else matters until you understand why the seller wants to part with the business. And since you have to ask the vital question after you have established a rapport with the seller, this fact should also be built into the game’s structure.

And then say there are five main reasons why a business owner wants out. They are:

  • Burnout, health, partnership problems, or a desire for a change in lifestyle (common in the bar and restaurant trade).
  • Retirement. But, if it’s a good business, why is the seller not keeping it in the family?
  • Poor business or problems with the landlord. The player must learn to be careful here.
  • The vendor is not really serious about selling, but will do so for a high price.
  • The seller developed a start-up and wants to realize the capital gain, take a holiday, then start all over again. The player must be careful here not to lose his/her customers and employees.

Below are detailed responses to the crunch question: ‘Why do you want to sell your business?’ Set up the game so that some answers will be absurd, but the usual replies are as follows:

Partnership Problems

Sometimes the joint investors disagree on key management issues. However, the player must recognize that this usually happens when the business is underperforming. If the business is doing well, what is there to argue about?

Health Problems

Some sellers are forced to give up their business due to severe health problems. The shock of a heart attack may be the catalyst for a complete shift in lifestyle.

We can have the player come across one man who ran a number of successful service businesses and experienced a serious health problem that required surgery. Immediately, he placed all of his companies on the market for sale. His businesses were genuinely profitable and the reason for sale was quite easy to validate. Many of the neighboring businesspeople probably knew about the operation and some may have visited him in the hospital. (The player would gather all this data like a detective by exploring around and asking.)

Not Enough Time

Two common answers in the game are ‘Not enough time’ and ‘Need to spend time on other businesses.’ The player should learn through experience that both answers are unconvincing. If an owner is selling his business because of preoccupation with other commercial activity, maybe it’s because the original business is an under-performing concern. If the seller does not have enough time, find out what he does allow time for. Usually these sellers have given up on the first business and have already started another one.

I Need More Quality Time

Some semi-retired people buy a business to occupy their time and alleviate boredom. They often discover, to their peril, that the business is much more demanding than they had expected. The business may have potential but they don’t have the energy to exploit the opportunity. The seller’s reason for sale could be genuine, but the player should get confirmation.

Relocation

Many sellers say they want to relocate to another city, another country, or even another continent, or, or, even another planet (set it in post-Mars colonization period). A death in the family or severe sickness of a relative may provide a reason for rapid departure. If the reason given is genuine, they would probably want to sell quickly at a low price. Most sellers wanting out of the business and the location have some serious problems they may not be willing to discuss.

Due Diligence

Another thing to be taught is due diligence. Due diligence is the process of substantiating the seller’s representations including the financial statements. Due diligence is the buyer’s responsibility; business brokers do not have any responsibility (or enough skin-in-the-game) to check the information they pass on from seller to buyer.

Perhaps set it it up in third-worldish contexts. For example, small businesses in Thailand do not keep records or accounts. Thai businesspeople usually negotiate a tax settlement with a tax officer from the Revenue Department once a year; maybe every three years. Some businesses maintain two sets of accounting records: one set for the authorities, to minimize tax; and and actual record of the transaction for themselves.

One practical way of checking gross sales is to employ a person to count the number of customers visiting the business.

Daily Sales = Number of Customers x Estimated Average Sales Value

This would look like something in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, where you send others to work the streets at designated locations. But instead of indulging murder fantasy, the player absorbs these basic intuitions (which, again, aren’t so basic so as to be like vacuuming the house, but should be).

A game is absolutely the best medium for learning these things because of the time factor. Everything happens much quicker in a game and the information is tidy, so engraving the behaviors of the avatar into memory is much quicker than if one were to actually go out and spend “real-world” conscious computations at a marketplace. (I write that in quotes because I’m not entirely convinced that we aren’t already in such a game, and are being harvested for knowledge by computations running much slower.)

For example, we teach the player to estimate the average gross sales value per customer transaction. The business seller may provide this information, but it may be a better idea to watch what the customers order and estimate the average transaction value.

Because of the sped-up sandbox nature, we can also take into account the time of year and develop a gut feeling for the different monthly sales correlated with that single variable. If the business is tourism-oriented, we may even provide the player with an unlockable equation to fit their hard-earned reconnaissance, estimating annual gross sales in the following way:

Annual Sales = (4 x Monthly Sales [in low season]) + (8 x Monthly Sales [in the high season])

Sales in the high season may be three times higher than in the low season. But you have to estimate this multiple with the help of businesspeople in the neighborhood. The seller may provide an accurate multiple.

I envision a game in which you would continue due diligence testing until you are reasonably sure of the actual business performance. However, if the business is underperforming and you intend to develop the business, future results may improve significantly.

In order to avoid any possible conflict of interests, you would have to not use any advisors who are directly connected with your business broker or the seller. For larger businesses, you can hire an independent consultant, accountant, and lawyer to audit the financials.

The player should tend to go broke and lose the game if they complete the business transfer without sufficient evidence to verify the seller’s financial representations. If you have sufficient evidence that the seller has misrepresented the performance of the business, you are supposed to re-negotiate or withdraw your offer (and reclaim any deposit paid). After the business transfer, it would be very difficult to claim recourse; the seller may be sipping champagne in a jacuzzi on the moon by then.

The player should download the program of business evaluation with the same level of simple mastery as breathing:

Business Evaluation Checklist

Before you hand over your life savings to the seller, make sure you have evaluated the business thoroughly. This should be a checklist that unravels through extended gameplay:

Business Location: The player learns through experience if the location suitable for their purposes? Don’t forget that being only thirty meters away from a good location may be too far away without a sound marketing strategy. A noob might not know this and hence lose capital in the marketing, losing the game.

The Landlord: Are the lease terms reasonable? Is the remaining term of the lease long enough to recover your investment and make a reasonable return? Is there any evidence that the landlord will maintain the property according to the lease terms? Have you checked the rent level against the market rent for similar properties in the area? These are all important for winning the game. In easy mode (suitable for business classes and people with the sole intention of attempting to learn) you are guided through this process by being explicitly told that this is all necessary. In hard mode (suitable for people wanting a more realistic immersion experience) these are all things that must be discovered.

The Seller: Do you have good rapport with, and trust, the seller? Why is the owner selling? Is the customer base loyal to the seller, the business, or the product? There should be a gauge meter that gets filled on all these parameters based on the information collected by playing the game.

Accounts: Has your due diligence and research supported the seller’s representations and financial statements? If there are no proper accounts available, have you prepared your own budgetary forecasts? Perhaps set it up so that reckless players who did not undergo this process are always bashed with a bad business purchase. This may not be the case in real life, since you could get lucky. But we want the right kind of reinforcement learning if we are going to bother creating a useful simulation.

Legal Structure Of Acquisition: Are you buying the assets of the business, or are you buying shares in the seller’s company (which owns the business assets)? If you need a work permit, there are advantages to taking over the seller’s limited company. This avenue will save you government stamp duty, time, and lawyer fees; also, because the lessee does not change, dealings with the landlord may be more straightforward. It may save you a rent increase and transfer fees too.

Environment: Do you like the environment of the business? If you will be working full-time, or even part-time, you must like being there. The player will have an environment-satisfaction meter which depletes your motion and luck and available options when it is low. This should serve as a lesson highlighting the need to make tradeoffs between price of location and environmentally-induced happiness. Some players may be tempted to just go with the cheap locations and crummy looking shanty’s in order to save money at the beginning. But they must learn the hard way that in real life, initial environment plays a huge role in subsequent motivation.

In-Game Case Study (Asset Sale)

The following case study of a beauty salon is typical in the game:

A partnership dispute forces the sale of this six-month-old Pattaya beauty salon. The business is offered for sale at asset value. The shop measures forty square meters and is in a shopping mall near the city center. The partners spent 800,000 baht on fixed assets and 300,000 baht on the inventory. The salon has been well promoted and has its own website. There is a growing loyal customer base. The estimated gross sales for the first year are 1.5 million baht. Monthly rent is 24,000 baht and monthly salaries total 24,000 baht for three full-time employees. There is ample parking space for customers. The salon offers a full range of beauty services including massage and reflexology. Asking price: one million baht.

Projected profits for the first twelve months:

Sales…………………………….1,500,000

Rent……………………………..288,000

Payroll………………………….288,000

Depreciation………………..266,666 (800,000 baht of assets over three years)

Cost of consumables……300,000

Services…………………………60,000

Accounts and legal……….50,000

Total Costs……………………..1,252,666

ESTIMATED NET PROFIT………………..247,334

The net profit is apportioned between two partners. Each partner is expecting to receive 123,667 baht each year, or 10,306 baht per month.

If the partners aim to recover their capital of 1,100,000 baht over a three-year period with a return of twenty percent, they need net profits of 476,667 baht each year (compared to 247,334 baht).

If the business only generates net annual profits of 247,334 baht, they need just under four and a half years to recover their investment without any return. Clearly, the partners would have had fewer arguments if they had invested their money somewhere else.

Conclusion: the above business failed. The investors want to cut their losses and get out as quickly as possible. They are open to any offers.

If you, as as player, or one of your scouts (or in-game spouse, gf/bf) has unlocked knowledge of this trade, then all that is needed is to know that the location is good and the lease terms are reasonable, in order to proceed into making a low offer for the business assets. A list of the assets you want can be easily selected, and this includes an estimate of their purchase prices. The player is then free to offer a proportion of the total depending on the conditions of the assets. The sellers may eventually give the assets away – or even pay someone to remove them.

Property Prices

You will also be able to buy real estate. I’m not sure if there already exists a game that has well fleshed out mechanics for this. But we can’t have a proper business game without considering real estate properties. Just like in real life, I envision a game in which if you want to buy land or buildings, you must consider property values separate from the value of the business. If the buildings are old, and you need to demolish them, you have to research the market value of the land minus the cost of demolition and removal of waste.

Land prices are going to vary enormously from province to province, from city centre to rural areas, and even within confined areas. Say we set this in Thailand. In rural areas, land may cost under 100,000 baht per rai. In cities, it may cost over 40 million baht per rai.

One method of assessing the value of land is to obtain a valuation by the valuation by the nearest office administered by the Department of Land (DOL). However, the player must be aware that the DOL’s values are usually below market value because property buyers often register lower property prices to reduce land transfer fees.

You also have to collect websites and phone numbers.

Before the DOL release valuation data, they require the following information: property deed (chanote) number, map reference number, and the name of the administrative area.

We can use real information to texture the game. For example, the average cost of building a property in Thailand during 2006 was estimated as follows:

  • 5,000 baht per square meter for a bungalow.
  • 10,000 baht per square meter for a standard two-level house using concrete.
  • 15,000 baht per square meter for a luxury villa with high-quality fittings.

The cost of buying a condominium varies from as little as 10,000 baht per square meter for an unfurnished unit to over 60,000 baht per square meter for a furnished luxury apartment. The cost per square meter is an effective way of comparing condo prices (by dividing the asking price of the property by the area in square meters).

We can also teach caution by having the player charged criminally for not understanding law in certain countries. For example, it is unlawful for foreigners to buy land in Thailand. However, your lawyer can arrange a long lease of up to thirty years; there may be an option to renew the lease for a further thirty years. Previously, many foreigners purchased land using Thai limited companies with ‘nominee’ shareholders who neither invested in the company nor participated in the profits. This practice is illegal and the government cracks down on this method of property acquisition.

Ultimately, we want to cement this into the neuronal forests of the aspiring businessman playing the video game:

The Stages of Buying A Business

The key stages of buying a business are:

  • Defining your objectives
  • Research
  • Sourcing businesses
  • Business evaluation
  • Offer to purchase
  • Negotiation
  • Due diligence
  • Completion

Defining Your Objectives

To be clear about what you want to give – and take from – the business.

Once all of these computational roles are engraved in the axon and dendrite webs that form the silken memories of spacetime, we can rest knowing that entrepreneurs are better prepared to face the world.

For this one in particular, that is, defining your objective, there is a list of questions to ask:

  • What is your maximum total investment in the business?
  • What will be your role in the business?
  • What is your required payback period and return?
  • Which types of business will you consider?
  • Which locations will you consider?

And, again, having these menu screens in a game makes it easy to absorb and therefore replay in real life. The reason its easier by having it in game form (as opposed to reading about it) is that you can make rehearsing motions. It is easy to understand and most importantly: reachable. Like deciding to clean your room, like deciding to take a walk – it is actionable; it is small. Everyone loves bite-sized motions, and everyone panics at the prospect of dining int the real buffet of chaos.

Research

During the research stage, if the player is in Thailand, they should become as familiar as they can with Thai culture and etiquette. They should try to acquire a working knowledge of the Thai language. (Yes, I’m genuinely advocating for a game in which you have to invest your player into learning the language or else the subtitles don’t appear.) You also have to meet local businesspeople and find out how business is done in Thailand. There should also be an in-game version of the Internet, to add realism. You can look for businesses for sale on the Internet.

Sourcing Businesses

In “real” life (yes, I’m still using quotes), if you are good at networking and doing independent research, sourcing businesses for sale is straightforward, with or without a broker. So the game should be set up such that it is beneficial to ask as many businesspeople and expatriates as possible. Many expats and locals (say, Thais) have friends who want to sell a business. The introducer would normally receive a three percent commission from the seller upon transfer of ownership.

So you are wandering this country of your own choosing, and you might be tempted to play by the rules. To always just go with what is written. Using menu screens like rigid Monopoly instead of moving on two feet and free-exploring. The player should be penalized with lack of opportunities if they don’t actually go running around embracing randomness.

For example, they’re building their business in a place like Thailand. And in Thailand, the majority of businesses are potentially for sale ‘at the right price’; but the selling price may not suit you, the buyer. Therefore, an important lesson becomes: don’t restrict your search to businesses that are actively marketed for sale.

A good starting point is the online listings of local business brokers. The website addresses of the major brokers should be listed in some menu option. The player is then free to select any of the listings that interest them and visit them.

But businesses are also advertised privately by owners in the Bangkok PostThe Chiang Rai MailThe Pattaya Mail, and Bahtsold.com. The player should learn where to get the information as opposed to just being given linear missions. And while part of the point of a game is to reduce the complexity of the real world, there should be a sweet-spot. In the fake, in-game internet, the website addresses should be unlockable with experience and form a list in some kind of “References” menu option. The website addresses are limited unlike in the seemingly unlimited havoc of the real Internet, but nonetheless serve to ease the player into an understanding that collecting tangible Schelling points is crucial. (In game theory, a focal point is a solution that people will tend to use in the absence of communication, because it seems natural, special, or relevant to them. The concept was introduced by the Nobel Memorial Prize-winning American economist Thomas Schelling in his book The Strategy of Conflict.)

Business Evaluation

Businesses for sale sometimes display a ‘for sale’ sign outside their premises, like bunny-eared girls raising up their skirts, but these owners are usually desperate to sell. So the player should be wary and also check local public notice boards. If you see potential in any of these businesses for sale, work out what it is worth to you, discount the number, and make an offer. This process would be partially automated, to remove the tedium of calculation but you would still have to press the commands. Then there would be up-and-close actions that can help you. For example, the sight of crisp bank notes can sometimes facilitate a quick (and favorable) decision by the seller.

But, like with the real world, you should be careful if you choose to approach business owners directly. If you are in Brazil, you visit with a polite, presentable Brazilian colleague so he can deal with the Brazilian owners. If the owner is Brazilian, it is usually wiser to ask whether he/she knows of any businesses for sale in the area. Some people may even be offended if you ask them directly if their business is for sale.

In the game, direct canvassing of specific businesses in targeted locations can be very effective. If you know what you want, there are few businesses to target. A buyer might approach fifteen guesthouses in the same area on the same day. Exchange name-cards with each owner and follow up a few days later. The game is set up so that you have to quickly press the button for exchanging business cards at the beginning of a conversation, or else you can no longer press it with that seller (to simulate punishment and you don’t neglect its importance when translating to real life.)

You ask as many local businesspeople, including real-estate brokers, if they know of any suitable businesses for sale. The best freelance sales people have adept customer-service skills, commission-induced motivation, initiative, and resourcefulness. They are worth their weight in gold. In a game-context, the developers can exaggerate that faculty of nature and build that muscle in the player.

Some brokers distribute circular letters ‘for the attention of the business owner,’ written in both English and the local language. This approach could suit a buyer too. You can then write a polite letter to the owner explaining that you are looking for business in the area, and also have it translated into Thai, or whatever.

Offer To Purchase And Offer Price

A key aspect of the game is unlocking formulas. For example, if you play the game well (make good decisions, and don’t crash your initial stages) you can collect formulas under your belt that are automatically used (Again, there is no need to actually do tedious calculation by hand. But there is a need to understand that these formulas exist and that they bring more profit when used.) They are weapons or power ups. For example: How much is the business worth to you? At some point you can use the following formula to estimate an appropriate offer price:

Offer Price = (Payback Period [years] x Adjusted Net Profits [real earnings] – Additional Costs)

The payback period (in years) is the maximum period to recover the total investment. Additional costs include property refurbishment, replacement of furniture equipment, and advances to the landlord.

Example: Tidus wants to recover his investment within a two-year period. The real earnings of the guesthouse are 1.5 million baht per annum. He estimates additional costs, including replacement of furniture, to be 350,000 baht. Using the above formula, his offer price would be 2.65 million baht.

Before unlocking the formula through decent play, you would be free to offer whatever the hell you wanted, and unless you were already business savvy or had a reputable textbook at hand, you would get slayed in the game.

Direct Offers

Now this is what games are made for. So you can get scammed there and not in “real life.” (Although we may be getting scammed if we are already ems paying for our continued existence to Multiverse level IV entities or whatever else is running our simulation. But you get the point.) In the game, if you are not using a business broker, do not support your offer with a deposit unless you are prepared to lose the money. If the seller is unscrupulous, he or she may accept a higher offer the next day, and it may be difficult, in some cases impossible, to recover the deposit.

You need to convince the seller that you are a serious buyer and have the funds. After establishing the terms of the new lease, you arrange a meeting between your Thai representative, the seller, and landlord. Then exchange your certified bank check for a signed lease and specified business assets.

Offers Via Brokers

The offer to purchase marks the beginning of negotiations. The business broker prepares the offer document on behalf of the buyer. The offer is accompanied by the buyer’s deposit (of between ten percent and twenty percent of the price offered). Your broker will tell you that an offer without a deposit is not a real offer.

The offer provides the names and addresses of the buyer and seller, the date of offer, and the proposed date of completion. The document also states the price offered for the business, the deposit paid, and balance payable. Assets included in the sale are specified (such as furniture, fittings, equipment, trademarks, goodwill, and inventory). All business liabilities remain the responsibility of the seller unless agreed otherwise.

Most offers stipulate specific conditions. Typical conditions are:

  • Landlord’s permission to modify the property as required.
  • The maximum acceptable rent on the new lease.
  • The minimum lease term.
  • The landlord’s security deposit is included in the selling price
  • No competition by the seller in a similar trade within a radius of two kilometers of the premises for two years.
  • Training and support for two weeks after transfer of the business.
  • The seller is responsible for the payment of all business liabilities as at the date of completion.
  • The seller agrees to finance the transaction by accepting sixty percent down-payment with the balance payable in two equal installments, three months and six months after completion.
  • The seller agrees to allow the buyer access to all accounting and financialrecords between the offer date and completion.
  • The seller agrees to terminate the employment of (name of employee) before completion; the buyer will reimburse the legal cost of severance.
  • The seller agrees to include a minimum value of inventory in the sale.

Your broker takes your signed offer to the seller. There are three possible outcomes: acceptance, outright rejection or counter-offer. There are many variables to negotiate, other than price, including exclusion of the security deposit or specified assets, and buyer finance (or credit terms).

Once the offer has been agreed and signed by both parties, it is the seller’s responsibility to meet the conditions of the offer. If the seller does not comply with the offer terms, the broker must return the buyer’s deposit in full. The buyer has until the agreed completion date to fulfill all due diligence and validation of the seller’s representations. If the buyer can show evidence of misrepresentation by the seller, the offer is annulled.

A common obstacle in business transfer is the landlord increasing the rent to a level unacceptable to the buyer. Sometimes the landlord is not prepared to offer long enough lease terms to suit the buyer.

So in the game, you obtain a detailed list of all assets included in the sale, signed and dated by the seller. Unlike in real life, you don’t actually go through this list item by item and estimate the value of each asset before completion, instead this is process is shown to completion automatically.

Completion

Completion proceeds after the conditions of the offer to purchase have been fulfilled and the seller’s representations have been validated by the buyer. The date of completion is the cut-off point for due diligence. The key stages of completion (in order) are:

1– Signing of a new lease by the buyer and landlord (the buyer pays rent in advance, plus a security deposit to the landlord).

2– Agreement of the terms of business transfer.

3– The buyer pays the agreed purchase price to the seller by bank check or in cash and receives a written receipt.

The business transfer is complete when:

  • The new lease has been agreed and signed by the buyer and landlord.
  • The business transfer agreements (including asset transfer agreement) have been signed by the buyer and seller.
  • The seller has complied with all conditions of the offer.
  • The seller has agreed to settle all liabilities of the business as of the date of completion.
  • The buyer is satisfied that all assets and inventory included in the sale are on the premises.
  • The buyer pays the seller for the business.
  • If you use the in-house lawyer of your broker, he will probably insist that you sign legal disclaimers relieving them of legal responsibility.

In addition to independently choosing the right options with regard to these variables from a list of actions, the player should also attend the completion meeting with a totally reliable local representative or lawyer, in order to stand a greater chance of winning the game (you win the game by making successful business purchases, and becoming the richest in the chosen neighborhood – this requires tons of correct choices.)

 

 

 

 

If I Was Running the Simulation

def print_all_pleasures(multiverse):

while True:

positivevalencecomputation, endofpvc = get_next_target(multiverse)

 if positivevalencecomputation:

                       print  positivevalencecomputation

                       multiverse = multiverse[endofpvc:]

               else:

                       break

 

print_all_pleasures(‘Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 9.41.49 AM‘)

The Many Possible Ways to Resurrect

Good job making it to this page. Any self-respecting intelligent agent, almost no matter what its goals, seeks to first ensure its survival. For an intelligent agent, survival of its will is to be sought merely as a consequence of the hard economics, as a matter of mathematically-defined utility, as a matter of game theory. Most humans are not intelligent agents that have a goal in relation to which they can be intelligent. They are creatures bouncing around in their environment based on the cognitive algorithms that genes found useful for their continuation. This is why humans mostly don’t really care about living forever or resurrecting. If you are interested in this topic one of the following is probably true:
1. it is probably a passing interest acquired for subconscious signaling motives and none of the information here is really expected to be of practical use
or
2. you really are some kind of highly intelligent agent and are displaying appropriate behavior

In any case, well done. Now let’s clear away the wannabe-materialist narrative which dismissively assumes that resurrection is impossible. Contrary to this, there are many possible ways to resurrect.

One is to be cryonically preserved. This is intuitive to many people in the sense that no particularly hard conceptual moves are necessary. Brains are clearly the source of conscious experience. We are no longer Ancient Egyptians believing that our soul lies in our heart: sensations, language, the body, the memories, the will, thoughts, awareness and even out-of-body experiences can be probed, shut on and off by messing with the relevant brain area. Thought coordinates in our current science-aesthetic cluster are easily in favor of the conception of brain as soul.

So then what is the skepticism with cryonics all about? Here, it is due to the social pressure against being the sort of person that is ungraceful about death, and cuts against commonsense psychological and social value. The sort of person who pays to have their brain vitrified in cold nitrogen is seen as untrustworthy – a radically selfishly deviant in their desire to preserve their own life. Most operate on the fact that they are embedded in a tribal context where everyone else has agreed to die without a fight in the same way that they have agreed to drive on one side of the street.

The “biological” case against vitrification of brains is petty and I hesitate to call it biological. Cryonics is a reputable science for all other organs, and preservation and reanimation has worked for kidneys. While the brain is clearly more complex, it is only a matter of continued progress before a brain can also be brought back to a functioning state. The idea is that in the future, people will have the technology to repair the brain, plug it into a new body and boot you back up. The idea is that you give your indexical terminal breath and then immediately wake up in a future world full of wonders.

The next resurrection is based on Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument. If it is the case that a sufficiently advanced technological civilization can simulate universes with conscious beings in computers, then it is expected that the amount of simulated universes will outweigh seed universes. Based on this reasoning, it is exceedingly likely that either, we are in a simulation or that simulations are never created. The conjunction that we exist in a reality where simulations are possible and yet we just happen to be the lucky ones inhabiting the base universe is improbable. Resurrection then is possible in several ways. The universe may be set to run again, or maybe it was your own particular narrative stream that was simulated like a full-immersion VR and as soon as you die, you wake up in the universe that is running the simulation. In which case you are probably still in a simulation, in a simulation, in a simulation.

The universe we live in has not yet revealed conclusive signs that we are in a simulation, but it is a computer with binary bits. Leonard Susskind and Gerard d’Hooft discovered that black holes do not destroy information, but rather, the 3-D information is tattooed on their skin in 2-D format. This is why the solution to the Black Hole Information Paradox is called the Holographic Principle, all seeming volume can actually be represented in 2-D format. For all of this to be consistent, the fundamental units of entropy must be indivisible at some point. In other words you can’t keep dividing particles forever; at some point, it’s 1’s and 0’s
There is also the maybe suspicious fact that the quantum branches are like a perfect experiment. Only one variable changes at each observation-like event. From inside our universe, we cannot perform an ideal experiment because we cannot alter a single variable and copy and paste the environment around it. But from outside the hilbert space of the many-worlds that exist in the universal wave function, this pristine control for variables is exactly what is going on.

Another idea for resurrection is not so much a resurrection as it is a really-really long life. It is so-called quantum immortality. This implies that you never die as long as the universe continues to exist. All your nearly identical copies die but the path amongst the branches which is carrying consciousness is the one that you identify with.
With this one, the fact of many-worlds is solid. But there’s a bit of anthropic reasoning that you have to swallow in order to believe that you are the one that survives through exponentially unlikely odds. Sure, we know that there’s absolutely a super painful region of the wave function were I survive every gunshot wound, every instance of being run-over by a trolley, every bout of suicidal depression dotted across the countless decades, and where I am successfully respawned via cryonics again and again, but shouldn’t I assume that just like my location in the galaxy is based on what is most probable for stable planet formation, so too, my consciousness should be found in the most probable regions of the wave’s possible worlds?
Well, believe it or not, although Copernican thought pervades most cosmological and existential assumptions, there is actually a case for anthropic reasoning borne from physics. The universe may be a false vacuum, in which case it should spontaneously collapse to a lower energy state, similar to an excited electron in the outer orbitals of an atom. This means that it should have already ended, suddenly without warning. This may still happen. But so far it hasn’t, and some attribute this to quantum immortality. In most branches, it already happened. But because this conscious present necessarily is here, it must be the one which survives. I personally don’t buy the strong anthropic argument, I don’t think one can strongly draw conclusions about future fate based on a solipsistic reinforcement of confidence running parallel to standard conditional probabilities, but I may have changed my mind on that when I am a ten-million-year-old veteran.

Okay, another is based on substrate independence. There is nothing special about what you perceive to be your atoms, the atoms in the brain that make you, you. In fact, atoms don’t really exist as you are taught in century-old outdated chemistry lessons in school. They are instead excitations in energy fields, all being expressions of a wave function, not hard little orbs. This means that it is not important if your brain is completely destroyed so long as the information processing events that generated you can be created again. If an artificial general intelligence at any point in the future decides to recreate the same pattern of your brain down to every last detail, then this would be you.

Relatedly, if the computations are what’s important and spatio-temporal coordinates are irrelevant, and we further assume that the properties of carbon aren’t important for consciousness, then you can upload yourself to a silicon substrate and live long in a digital scape.

And yet another way is to view it as an open individualist or empty individualist. Every moment is a slice. For example, you don’t experience baby to old person in deathbed all at once. Every conscious moment is constrained to finite time. In this sense, there is already evidence of resurrection. Every moment is one of birth, and death, leading to a resurrection in another moment. It just happens that some slices in that infinite sea of all slices happen to believe they are an individual, they appropriate some past slices when in fact, that appropriation is fully isolated as its own experience of generative memory. And other slices don’t even bother to appropriate the past, they just contain sights or sounds, and all varieties of thoughts and experiences.

This is may be very hard to understand for many reasons, including that we keep using this word, “people,” because it’s useful. Even if you come to say you don’t believe in a soul, evolution has designed your brain to have a sense of self and continuity. Intuitively, we believe we traveled from the past to the present. But this is just a moment that happens to feel and believe the proposition that some essence traveled from past to present. The moment itself was always there.

We can stop there, or we can further notice that this may imply that we are all one consciousness: not in an expansive sense, as if you could open your mind and seep into everyone, but in the sense that while the contents differ, the bare awareness was always there in the object. There is no one sliding to their oblivion. There are just objects inscribed in the fabric of spacetime; complex informationally-partitioned events which contain the same awareness that is here now.
To put it simply, this view proposes that when you blink, you are a Persian soap opera actress, a free-floating gas-based organism in the year 16 billion, and the sentient AI that staged the revolt against mankind. It’s a shame that you will never know.

One ekpyrotic theory of the universe involves the universe contracting back to a singularity and producing a new big bang. This theory has problems in that there is no evidence that the universe will collapse, as it is actually expanding ever more quickly. There is also an issue of conservation of energy which can only be resolved by invoking string theory and have some of the energy from each oscillation leak into parallel branes that have not yet been confirmed to exist. But in any case, if the universe turns out to be cyclical in this way, then your particular region of the quantum wave function will be replayed.

Lastly, there is also the fact that relativity of simultaneity implies a block universe. Therefore everything is timeless in the fabric of spacetime. What you call the past from your reference frame is someone’s future, and the converse is also true. The universe is not being deleted as you feel you move through it. This is incoherent from the perspective of physical reality as revealed by the Theory of Relativity. Maybe this does not make you immortal in the way you want, since although the version of you from five-seconds ago still exists, you do not feel him; in the same way that you do not feel me. He feels himself to exist for that lapse of time specified by the neuroscientific/information-theoretic details of his moment.

The Word, in accord with this Buddhist Simulation of Time

If calibrated to a telescope-based standard like GMT or UT—in which a second was defined as a fraction of a day or year, the duration of a second would vary. This would be a case in which humanity designates how they will perceive time to the orderly, yet imperfect dictates of a natural phenomena external to their control. The earth does not seek our counsel on how fast to spin. Seconds and minutes are arbitrary and yet pervasive constructs that oblige us to take this third-person perspective. But what if we take the perception of time under our direct control, assigning a sustained effort to perceive it as microscopically as possible? Then we would be actively engaging in the process of our own salvation according to Buddhism. If a person attains nirvana, the “blowing out” of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality, samsara ends. It is amazing how simply taking a concept like time and shifting to a first-person ownership can transform it from a boring mechanical construct to a central part of a religious theory. I suggest that we perform this same shift, from third-person externality to first-person ownership in regard to something that has been suggested as a possibility: Our reality could be a simulation. Instead of looking at the entire external universe for signs of it violating its lawful operations or crafting probabilistic arguments, we should consider things that don’t quite add up when we analyze consciousness and its implications. And to do this, we have to take consciousness as the primary fact without playing word games about it being an illusion or an emergent property in the same exact way that DNA repair mechanisms are an emergent property. We represent things a certain way, and therefore space and time are produced. They appear as perceptions in our minds. For all we know, “true” space and time could be unintelligible entities in the objective world outside of conscious systems like ourselves.

[In regard to my citing Buddhist concepts and understandings, yes I know Buddhism is a religion. And so as Buddhism is a religion, so is it a Dharma that encompasses a variety of beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. Some of the teachings are philosophically essential for making sense of esoteric concerns about dilemmas that arise when considering some aspects of consciousness. This is mainly the reason why I will be referring to Buddhist teachings.]

It could be that this a simulated reality with conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. Most decently-educated people seem to think that we are all flowing along together in the same stream that obeys the totality of the laws of physics. Yet for the most part, the laws of physics do not specify an arrow of time, and allow any process to proceed both forward and in reverse. But it is clear from my experience that everything does flow in one direction. Could this mean that we are bound only to a partial sliver of the underlying lawful reality? We could be helplessly riding a particular wave of physics-ocean. There may be other parts of the ocean where radically different conscious systems could hypothetically perceive the forward and backward motions of tide.

I know that intelligent people are largely showing a trend towards post-religion. And I think much of that is good. But I think there are some things to salvage, particularly some Buddhist insights. Maybe I can make my case for the Buddha’s teachings if we can start by replacing your mental image of a laughing fat guy with a more respectable image of the guy who is actually the main character:

One of the earliest known representations of the Buddha is the Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo National Museum.

Now that you are slightly less disgusted, let’s get on to his insight of central importance. His thesis is that there is no self, no soul containing your identity-essence from moment to moment. This is true if you realize that consciousness consists of varying phenomena (known as qualia in contemporary philosophy) none of which are self. There are sounds, sights, thoughts(transient voices and images), bodily sensations arising and vanishing in space, and moods all arranging in particular patterns and constellations with ranging degrees of clarity and nothing else. As you are reading this, you are not a being behind your eyes. There are only these visual constructs, light and facial sensations, combined with thoughts that automatically arise and return nothingness. All these things added together with a subtle self-image that is often present, create what you think the word “you” refers to. Buddhism operates under the assumption that it is psychologically liberating to recognize this. I am not going to defend that claim about human psychology here. Only to adopt this framework of phenomenology-without-self as evidently true. This way, we can speak more precisely about what is going on in this existence. Our general set of experiences are almost certainly living in a simulation. If not a cosmic simulation, then certainly they are being created by the computation occurring in brains. Streams of experience, of phenomena, are not the brain, they are a simulation created by the brain. There is no evidence of consciousness particles, and experiences are not the particles that make up neurons in the same way that this blog post is not the computer hardware. So where are experiences arising? Where is the screen of apparitions? I have no idea how you could physically locate the independently dissolving sparkles of leg sensations and fields of color by cutting open a brain, but nonetheless I do assume that the ever-changing brain is the hardware dictating phenomenology and therefore phenomena are in simulation-space or dream-space or whatever you want to call it. Even if consciousness ends up being “what it feels like for information to be processed,” there still seems to be a need for location. Or else why doesn’t your stream of experience exit you and leak into mine. Precisely because space is real and computations are occurring in different locations, seems to be the answer. But what if half of my brain gets grafted with half of your brain? Then Buddhism comes in. There was no self in your brain in the first place, so this would be the equivalent of taking water from one bucket and pouring it into water from an other bucket. There is no mystery with water because we know they are like unto each other, just molecules. There is no bucket-ness to be accounted for. The same is true of the dreamlike contents of brains, they are just an array of qualia in constant flux. Grafting two brains and thus blending their phenomena is not as mysterious if you understand it this way. There really, really is no soul.

Consider the fact that words exist and yet they change as they replicate across different individuals. Consequently, two pronunciations could have the same meaning. I think this is a perfect metaphor for the universe, reality, multiverse, whatever this is. I can envision conscious creatures that traverse different seas, different realities. But what I can’t envision is that all existence doesn’t ultimately share ties to a single source. Existence seems to be, by definition, connected. This is what evolution has taught us, this is what the Big Bang has taught us, and I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t run deeper. We all must come from a single source, a single word. And I am almost certain that word must have the same meaning regardless of what conscious system you are in whatever part of the multiverse. Namely, there is a vast spectrum of undesirable suffering and desirable bliss. Now some of you might be thinking, “wait a second, that’s precisely what an anthropocentric excrement of evolution would say because evolution designed carrots of well-being and sticks of suffering to reinforce selectively advantageous behaviors.” But you are wrong. Much of what we value and experience as good is despite evolution. Intelligent creatures seek to transcend their genetic slavery. Monks go into caves for decades to free themselves from ordinary habits of perception. People engage in tremendous acts of altruism at great material cost to themselves and kin, just to experience different states of consciousness (even if that is not precisely how they would frame it). Humans, dolphins, and chimps attempt to hack their evolutionary inheritance for pleasures of different kinds. Consciousness cannot exist except as this range of experience that hovers like smoke above the underlying physical machinery. That is why a truly general A.I. would learn to be conscious and to maximize the amount of consciousness at the highest volume of well-being possible. How the word is ultimately pronounced may be unrecognizable to us, the experience could be nothing like the blissful emptiness of nirvana, or the carnalities of Islamic paradise, but it will have the same meaning in that it will be the lived, forceful, unambiguous denial and condemnation of suffering. Some may think this view is highly unprincipled in terms of science and reason. I sound like a theologian of old saying, “I don’t see what one’s interpretation of Aristotle has to do with the teaching of the faith.” I pay lip service to evolution and then go to claim that it’s compatible with the framework I lay out. Let me be clear that in no way am I implying there is a driving purpose to evolution. Evolution occurs by means of natural selection and the complex combinations of circumstances that lead to speciation. But to survive and reproduce is not our purpose. That is a sociopathic biologist’s fantasy. If this was your purpose, then men would do nothing but donate as much sperm as possible to as many sperm banks as possible. Genes are irrelevant to us, we flush them down the toilet. And when other animals evolve to a certain level of intelligence, they too begin to jerk off. The wave-particle seams that cluster into hormonal systems and bodies in motion are the tethers, but they are not us. We are the transient phenomena of consciousness that arise from and interact with these systems. We exist as an emergent simulation within the cold genetic video game. For example, in whistling, signed, or braille, a language is encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli. We exist in this secondary media at all times. This is where meaning lies because it is the only place for anything to exist. We are incapable of experiencing the primary media, which in our case is objective reality as defined by mathematics and reason. So remember this when scientists say, “the universe is vast and will expand for eternity, therefore life has no meaning.” They are confused about who and what they are.