Re: Ethics of being a Creator

Anders Sandberg (
24 Apr 1998 13:14:00 +0200

Henri Kluytmans <> writes:

> OK, but the least thing a creator could do is to check if
> sentient entities occur in his simulation (e.g. universe).
> If so, he (/she/it) could make backup copies of their states
> just prior to their destruction. The saved backup copies could
> then be restored in a separate simulation (heaven/hell?).

That sounds nice, but it might not be easy to do. First, some of the
entities might suffer a gradual decline (like humans with Alzheimer's
disease), would it be nice to save backup copies of their final,
degraded state or should one save copies from an earlier state? If so,
why just one, why not several? Second, it might not even be clear to
the creator which entities are sentinent and which are not (there
might be a lot of intelligence hidden in the apparent chaos of type
III CAs, invisible until you look at the principal fourier
components). Third, the afterlife is rather underdetermined: how to
keep the entities from pain *there*?

> So, IMO a creator *can be held responsible* for the individual
> events in their creations.
> (Isn't this the same issue as a creator being responsible
> for any artificial sentient being(s) he has created.)

Even when the creator has no idea about what sentinent beings will
emerge? If you create a world top-down, in the genesis fashion ("Let
there be animals, to the following specifications... Let there be
chemistry to implement the animals, to the following
specifications...) it is fairly easy to say you are responsible for
the entities you create (but note that they might have free will,
which might give them some responsibility themselves). But if you
create a bottom-up universe (like in game of life: "Let there be an
initial state and the following rules...") you will not know what will
emerge (unless it is a very uninteresting rule set) and you cannot
predict the eventual outcome.

The unpredictability of Turing machines and complex systems is IMHO
the basis for our free will, and puts a limit on the amount of
responsibility we can place on any creator.

> By the way, at Transvision98 we will show a television documentary
> which will illustrate exactly this issue: "A creator of a simulation
> containing sentient beings is being held responsible" :->

I look forward to it!

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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