Why just simulation?

From: Mark Walker (tap@cgocable.net)
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 08:05:24 MST


Is Nick's simulation argument part of a more general argument, namely: that if posthumans create humans then it is almost certainly the case that posthumans have created us.
Clearly, posthumans may have a much easier time creating and sustaining plenty of us than we do of creating and sustaining plenty of ourselves. So, if posthumans decide to create us they could exercise two options. The energy option, to the best of our knowledge, would be best realized by running computer simulations of humans. The matter option might be realized by populating the universe with a number of human colonies. This could be done the old-fashion way: sending out spaceships with robots (nanobots?) to refashion dead planets for life. In this way billions of billions of planets could have 6 billion inhabits just like our own. So even if the posthumans only exercise the matter option our numbers get swamped. Why would the posthumans exercise the matter option? For a start, it is not incompatible with also employing the energy option, i.e., computer simulations, so perhaps they are using the matter option as a control group for the energy option. Obviously, the matter option is less energy efficient but we could imagine that the posthumans are not worried about this, or that they have their reasons for being a bit wasteful. Perhaps, as Nick says, there are ethical imperatives against simulating human lives on computers. One might wonder whether the same reasoning applies to creating matter versions. (After all, one might think that the computer version makes us seem somewhat captive whereas the matter version allows us to be somewhat feral. I don't' know if this is politically correct, this might be a piece of mattercentric thinking). Of course, the other way to look at it is, why not? Why not use a chunk of the universe as a nursery for budding human civilizations? (The answer to the Fermi paradox is that you get removed from the nursery once you reach a certain level of sophistication). Perhaps they do so for merely nostalgic reasons. I think that computer simulations are a much more likely scenario, but I don't think the argument need be wed to this particular version. After all, there are still some who believe that simulation is not possible. Also, it is only partly the idea that we are a simulation that gets under our skin here. It is the idea that we have been created by others, that there might be a hidden hand directly our lives, that is bothersome-that our efforts may be full of sound and fury but signifying nothing. In any event, the argument then would be that at least one of the following three must be true.

 

(1)

(2')

(3') P(CRT) 1

 

 

Rewriting for the fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations or (re) creating matter versions of humans.

 

CRT: Either SIM or REC

SIM: You are living in a simulation

REC: You are living in a material recreation of an ancestral environment.

 

So what follows is that whether we are material or simulated beings or not, it is almost certain that we have been created by posthuman beings, unless posthumans one and all join hands and sing the praises of the categorical imperative not to create humans.

                So unless 2' is true complete evolution is almost certainly false, i.e., the idea that we emerged from the primordial soup to recreate ourselves in a posthuman fashion.



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