Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 06:26:59 MST

Forwarded with permission:

>X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Pro Version 4.0
>Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 20:35:04 -0800
>To: Robin Hanson <>
>From: Lee Corbin <>
>Subject: Re: How To Live In A Simulation
>Hi Robin,
>The main purpose of running past simulations will probably be to
>answer intriguing historical questions, e.g., what would have
>happened if the Germans had not won World War II. That is, would
>it be as some claim, that the colonization of the solar system
>would be accelerated by a US/USSR bipolar world instead of the
>3rdReich/US bipolar world? After all, it was only in the 24th
>century that colonies existed on all planets when Germany won,
>and you could find out by running a simulation like ours how
>long it takes if Germany loses.
>Since I am less famous than you, I (or the AI generating the
>input from acquaintance Lee), will contend that it's more likely
>that simulations are wide rather than narrow, i.e., that many
>more people are really emulated rather than merely depicted in
>large crowd scenes. History could be chaotic enough that failure
>to emulate 10^9 people or more results in unrealistic simulations,
>and that to get good answers to questions like, "What would have
>happened if Germany had lost?", then you must run a few thousand
>full simulations with lots of real people.
>The reason that I would predict full simulations emulating lots
>of "nobodies" is because I'm closer to being a nobody, and yet
>must contend that I've been calculated since birth. It seems
>computationally less feasible to perform an act of creation,
>and just mock up a person with jillions of personal memories,
>and then try to control his or her interfaces to others with
>their jillions of memories.
>Therefore, it is less likely to me that the people that I meet
>on the street are simulations than it is to you, especially if
>you are meeting lots of famous people. Therefore, I am more
>morally bound to care about them, because they really exist.
>But I'll agree that the results of your analysis indicate that
>perhaps one should live more for today.
>P.S. I just read Hal Finney's reply to you that you were
>kind enough to forward. (He's got a great memory.) Just last
>year I wrote a good deal more on Cryonet about the difference
>between emulations and simulations of people, but mostly
>because some didn't understand the difference.
>What I wrote back in 1996 is still useful for me personally
>to help figure out my true motivations for some actions.
>Since when I drive I do let random people stuck in parking
>lots out in front of me, where there is no chance that
>they'll ever be able to reciprocate, and that I would never
>do so if I knew that they were only being simulated (not
>emulated), then I know that indeed I'm a nice guy :-)
>At 04:28 PM 3/13/01 -0500, you wrote:
> >
> >>X-Authentication-Warning: majordom set sender to
> >> using -f
> >>X-Sender:
> >>X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Pro Version
> >>Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2001 09:38:32 -0500
> >>To:
> >>From: Robin Hanson <>
> >>Subject: How To Live In A Simulation
> >>Sender:
> >>Reply-To:
> >>
> >>The idea that we might be living in a simulation has
> >>been popular lately in film and fiction (e.g., 13th
> >>Floor, Matrix).
> >>
> >>But I never saw anyone take the idea seriously enough
> >>to ask how you should live your life if you think you
> >>might be living in a simulation. To fill that gap:
> >>
> >>How To Live In A Simulation
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>Robin Hanson
> >>Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
> >>MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
> >>703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323
> >
> >
> >Robin Hanson
> >Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
> >MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
> >703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323
> >

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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