Re: Why just simulation?

From: Nick Bostrom (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 22:06:41 MST

Mark Walker wrote:

>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.

Yes, supposing they create humans in large enough numbers and that the
humans they create have experiences that are indistinguishable from ours.

>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.

Yes, but there are very strong reasons for thinking that the vast majority
would be created the "energy option". It's trillions of trillions of times
cheaper. (And as Robin points out, it doesn't require building a large
screen around our solar system.) I should say something about this in the
next version though.

When I said there might be ethical prohibitions to running simulations of
human lives, what I had in mind was the fact that human life contains so
much misery. I don't think there is anything immoral about creating
simulations per se.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy
Yale University

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