a simulated utilitarian

From: Wei Dai (weidai@weidai.com)
Date: Tue Aug 05 2003 - 02:36:02 MDT

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    How should a utilitarian live, given Nick Bostrom's Simulation
    Argument? Nick has a paper [1] on how a utilitarian should live. But in
    it, he for some reason completely ignores the simulation argument that
    he himself developed, and implicitly assumes that we are not living in
    a simulation. His main conclusion is: "the lesson for utilitarians is
    [that we should maximize] the probability that colonization will
    eventually occur."

    On the other hand, we have Robin Hanson's paper [2], titled "How To
    Live In A Simulation". His conclusions are:

    If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should
    care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more
    likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal
    events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous
    people around you happier and more interested in you.

    So we have one prominent extropian telling us to live for today, and
    another one telling us to live for the far future. Who is right? It
    occurs to me that we should take a probability-weighted average of the
    two positions. If the simulation argument is correct, there is a tiny
    probability that we live in root reality and what we do today affects
    an astronomical number of potential future individuals (including all
    future simulated individuals), and a near 1 probability that we live in
    a simulation and our actions affect relatively few people. We need to
    take both possibilities into account when making decisions. When we do,
    I think the two positions cancel out somewhat and we can live a more
    "normal" life.

    [1] http://www.nickbostrom.com/astronomical/waste.html
    [2] http://www.transhumanist.com/volume7/simulation.html

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