Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 07:25:41 MST

Lee Corbin wrote:
>I have recommended for many years the "Many Worlds Normalization
>Principle", which says that there are almost no moral or
>psychological consequences that follow from one's realization that
>one's self is really multiple copies living in multiple worlds.
>Robin Hanson pointed out to me in 1989 the first of just a few
>exceptions to the Many Worlds Normalization Principle that I know
>of. His exception we call "you can't beat the odds", which
>refers, for example, to the following scenario: if the a priori
>odds of something bad happening to you are .9, then even after
>you've experienced the .1 escape, you must still admit that in
>most worlds, the bad thing happened to you anyway.
>Regarding the simulation that we are living in: if it is a
>simulation, then it is identical to an actual sheaf of worlds in
>which the situation arose by the usual laws of physics unmediated
>by any simulator. Since these are identical from your
>perspective, you might as well regard yourself living in a real

The page that started this thread,,
was written as a response to the widespread claim that it doesn't
matter if we live in a simulation. If it is a complete simulation,
they it doesn't matter as much, but it can matter a lot more if it
is a partial simulation.

Curt Adams has given a spirited defense of the notion that a partial
simulation is impossible - claiming we would discover its partiality
via deviations from what a full simulation would compute. And I do
agree that as we learn more about our world and monitor it in more
detail, it becomes more and more expensive to avoid detectable deviations.
But partial simulations, much cheaper than full, still seem possible
to me.

If it were substantially more expensive to fool astronomers, the God
running a simulation might be tempted to mess more with astronomer minds,
perhaps even using actors who play them, etc. Maybe this is why
astronomers tend to be oddball types :-).

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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