I’m in the desert and I see a shiny patch in the distance.
I can consider the shimmering patch many things:
A. Under-Signifying or impersonal Range of Sense:
1) A perceptually modeled representation of dynamic changing optical conditions based on photon collisions and retinal stimulation.
2) A correlate for neurological functions evolved to link reflection with the presence of life sustaining H2O.
a) this condition is either validated by the presence of water of negated by its absence.
b) the limitations of 2) commonly lead to false positives owing to the similarity of patterns between heat convection and reflection off of the surface of water.
B. Signifying or Personal Range of Sense
1) maybe a mirage (simulation of water)
2) maybe water (which could be just as easily called a simulation of a mirage)
C. Over-signifying or Super-personal Range of Sense
1) hope and salvation
2) punishment from God/trickery from the devil.
3) a dramatic point in the story
Simulation, to me, arises in the personal range of sensemaking. In the lower ranges, simulation is not applicable (saccharine molecules do not simulate sucrose molecules, polymer resin doesn’t simulate the cellulose of a tree, etc) and in the upper ranges, interpretation is already ambiguous and faith based. You can’t have a simulated dark night of the soul, it is an experience that already defines itself as unique and genuine (even if it’s a genuine experience of being tricked).
Simulation then, is about the level of preference and Free Will. If something satisfies our expectation criteria of what it is intended to substitute for, then we say it is a simulation. The mirage is an example of how ephemeral and relative this really is. The mirage only passes for simulating water to us, at a distance. Probably don’t see a lot of insects or plants fooled by convection optics. It’s only a simulation in one sense or set of senses. This is why AI simulation will fail to generate human subjectivity, because it only looks like a human if you program it to play Jeopardy or chess or drive a car, etc.