Re: Why just simulation?

From: Nick Bostrom (
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 18:27:25 MST

Mark Walker wrote:

>able to tell today? So long as they confine their activities to a safe
>distance away we wouldn't be able to tell what they were up to. Perhaps the
>posthumans have set aside a thousand galaxies as protected parkland. I know
>I will.

If there are posthumans around with the desire, the legal authority, and
the resources to create such parklands, then there will also be posthumans
creating simulations, and the vast majority of people like us would be
living in simulations.

>"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."
>Yes, I see that now. I guess I just hadn't noticed that human life contains
>misery. Actually, I was just thinking of how the Jews in Auschwitz put God
>on trial--demanding that He appear and account for Himself. I guess we might
>imagine that they were putting the programmer on trial. It's pretty clear
>that if there is a Programmer for our universe, he's a real f---ing bastard.

I'm not so sure. We are seeing things from a very limited perspective.

> If this is a simulation do you think we have grounds to

The ethical problems here are quite closely related to the classical
theological problem of evil and I suppose no easier to resolve.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy
Yale University

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