RE: New website: The Simulation Argument

From: Nick Bostrom (
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 18:46:28 MST

Emlyn wrote:

>I don't quite understand Nick's disproof of this transhumanist idea. I
>thought that I understood the paper, but I don't understand Nick's
>conclusion as stated in the paper and below.
>Could someone please explain it, preferably in monosylables? And type slow.

Ok, I'll try to explain the conclusion (but not the argument):

Do you think you are currently living in a computer simulation (like the
Matrix)? No? Thought so. But then, because of the argument that this paper
presents, you must believe that EITHER our species is overwhelmingly likely
never ever to reach the posthuman level (really bad -ugh!), OR it is
extremely unlikely for any posthuman civilization that it should contain
individuals that run ancestor-simulations (not so bad - there are many
versions of this possibility that would be very good). (Or both the
preceding are true.)

So what we should hope for is that we are either in a simulation, or else
that a strong convergence thesis is true, such that any posthuman
civilization will almost certainly develop in a direction that precludes it
from running ancestor-simulations.

I guess this result rules out many of the wild type of scenarios that
Anders is exploring in his role playing games, and many scenarios presented
in science fiction. It does NOT rule out the singularity hypothesis or
Eliezer's hope that we'll develop a friendly AI Sysop.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520 | Phone: (203) 432-1663 | Fax: (203) 432-7950

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