Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 10:45:38 MST

I said...

> > There is a critical distinction between a basement level "real"
> > self-conscious entity and one that is running on a simulation of
> > some sort.

Hal responded:
> Let me briefly give an explicit argument for why simulated beings deserve
> the same consideration as real ones. Basically I will claim that there
> is no fundamental difference between a simulated and a real being.
> I know this is a radical claim but see if the chain of reasoning below
> is convincing.

[snip: nice description of what I would describe as Morovecian "uploading" ]

> The result of this chain of reasoning is that the distinction between
> "levels of reality" is not correct. "Simulated" people are just as real
> as physical ones.

I would agree they are real in the sense that their thoughts do occur and
something has to happen in the "real" (basement) world for that to happen.

I would also assert that they are of less *value* in a simulated world
than in the "real" world because they are inherently less efficient.
>From a resource allocation standpoint its highly inefficient to be
dedicating matter and energy to the simulation unless you are going
to get something out of it that justifies that expense.

> The thoughts are real, regardless of the context in which they appear.

Ok, but they are not "real" in the sense that their existence is purposeless.
Our universe, if it is the "real" universe, does not exist for any reason.
It simply "is" (as far as I can tell). Sim-ed universes exist for some
reason be it scientific exploration, a need for entertainment, or a desire
for company, etc. If the creator of those universes exhausts their usefullness,
I believe they have every right to fold them up and reallocate the resources
to something else.

We have "moral" examples of these tradeoffs in human culture. A mother with
two infants who does not have sufficient food resources to feed both is
justified in sacrficing one to minimize the suffering it would experience
in starving and to promote the survival of the other infant. A physician
in a war situation faced with patients who will and will not make it is
justified in dedicating his efforts to those who will.

All of us, each and every day make conscious decisions to allocate our resources
for the benefit of ourselves and the benefit of those close to us. Yet we
*know* that there are real, living, breathing, conscious people whose
realities could be greatly assisted, perhaps even preventing their deaths,
by our reallocating those resources for their use. But we choose not to do that.
So either we are all immoral or eliminating conscious beings by commission or
omission is justifiable.


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