Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Mar 18 2001 - 01:15:16 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> > The result of this chain of reasoning is that the distinction between
> > "levels of reality" is not correct. "Simulated" people are just as real
> > as physical ones.
> I would agree they are real in the sense that their thoughts do occur and
> something has to happen in the "real" (basement) world for that to happen.
> I would also assert that they are of less *value* in a simulated world
> than in the "real" world because they are inherently less efficient.

Is "efficiency" a valid model of the *value* of an intelligent
self-aware being? I find that a bit difficult to concede.

> Ok, but they are not "real" in the sense that their existence is purposeless.
> Our universe, if it is the "real" universe, does not exist for any reason.
> It simply "is" (as far as I can tell). Sim-ed universes exist for some
> reason be it scientific exploration, a need for entertainment, or a desire
> for company, etc. If the creator of those universes exhausts their usefullness,
> I believe they have every right to fold them up and reallocate the resources
> to something else.

Once you have turned the corner and created self-aware intelligent
beings I don't think you can morally any longer claim they exist only
for your own purposes.

> We have "moral" examples of these tradeoffs in human culture. A mother with
> two infants who does not have sufficient food resources to feed both is
> justified in sacrficing one to minimize the suffering it would experience
> in starving and to promote the survival of the other infant. A physician
> in a war situation faced with patients who will and will not make it is
> justified in dedicating his efforts to those who will.

A justification from scarce resources is only valid in a truly scarce
resource situation that there is no other way to deal with. I get the
impression from your general tone above does not speak of the simulated
real beings as, as it were, beloved children you would be loathe to
sacrifice if you had to but rather as if they are simply your property
and entertainment to do with as you will. I think there is quite a

> All of us, each and every day make conscious decisions to allocate our resources
> for the benefit of ourselves and the benefit of those close to us. Yet we
> *know* that there are real, living, breathing, conscious people whose
> realities could be greatly assisted, perhaps even preventing their deaths,
> by our reallocating those resources for their use. But we choose not to do that.
> So either we are all immoral or eliminating conscious beings by commission or
> omission is justifiable.

Elimiating them because you think them your property or such is
something else entirely. Merely electing to take care of yourself and
your direct dependents and friends and so on rather than others you know
less well is not a large moral problem in a world where there is
sufficient scarcity that one has no choice. But that is not quite the
same thing it seems to me as described above.

- samantha

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