Re: Ethics of being a Creator

Henri Kluytmans (
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 21:19:42 +0200

I wrote:
> When the creator has enough power to simulate a universe, he most
> also have enough power to merge the backup copies of earlier states
> with the later backups of the degraded states, and to construct
> from those multiple states a "healthy" state, containing all memories
> of the being. Of course one has to define what a "healthy" state is
> first.

Anders Sandberg wrote:
>Huh? This doesn't follow. I can set up a big game of life simulation
>(or something similar, perhaps Tierra) right now on this computer, but
>even if I discovered intelligent entities inside it after a while I
>wouldn't know what to do with them. Sure, that huge stretch of digital
>code is an intelligent entity, but I have no idea of how it works, how
>to merge its memories (which might be impossible even in principle for
>an Alzheimer-like case, where the memory substrate would be
>non-isomorphic over time) or what it would consider "healthy" ("Poor
>humans, guts riddled with bacteria. I'll resurrect them completely
>without any bacteria, then they will be healthy and happy!").

I think al this can be solved in principle. The question is only
how much time it requires. I think that all intelligent sentient
beings can be detected in principle. Of course I can't prove that.
This would equal creating a formal definition of sentience, which
nobody has been able to do yet.

You could for example record al the intermediate states of the
simulation. (When the simulation is deterministic you wouldn't
even have to do that. You would only have to remember the
beginning state of the simulation and its total duration.)

Then afterwards, the creator could in principle examine the
simulation in detail. Dependable on the complexity of the
sentient beings he wants to detect this examination could
take a time extremely much longer than the duration of the
simulation itself. The question is only, does it take longer
than time the creator will exist.

I expect it will not be that difficult for the creator to
detect sentient lifeforms in simulations. For example it
is also not so difficult for humans to detect selfreplicating
systems and moving systems in the "game of life". Of course
these current universes are much to small to create sentient
or even intelligent beings.

>Even if I happen to be a posthuman jupiter brain, I will still be
>limited in my knowledge about the behavior of complex systems such as
>simulated universes.

But you could learn...

I wrote:
> If sentient beings will develop (that are also able to selfreproduce)
> it is very likely they will transform their environment considerably.
> This process is exponential. (Look at how the human beings have
> already transformed our environment (Earth). And how we could likely
> transform are whole galaxy within a million years.)
> This reasoning presumes that reproducing sentient beings will at one
> time develop a technological civilization. I think however that this
> is quite likely.

Anders Sandberg wrote:
>Only in worlds like ours where there exists objects that can be used
>as tools. I would expect that an intelligent game of life pattern
>might live in a world where this is almost impossible - there is no
>way of moving anything without changing it. And in Tierra, the tools
>might be code integral to the entities or symbiotic creatures instead.

Systems in "game of life" worlds can alter their surroundings.
When they do this in an indirect way, this could be considered
using tools. I don't see why tools can't also exist in "game of life"

> >Third, the afterlife is rather underdetermined: how to
> >keep the entities from pain *there*?
> When the entities are restored in a separate simulation there
> is now no reason anymore not to communicate with them. So the
> creator could ask the sentient beings themselves if they are happy
> or not. Or even give them the capabilities to alter themselves
> in to a state they individually prefer.

>This assumes we can easily communicate with them. But how do we start
>exchanging communication with entities with a fundamentally extremely
>different world

I didn't assume it should be very easy. But it shouldn't be to hard
to communicate with other intelligent sentient beings. We will have
enough in common. It should be just as hard as communicating with
any other intelligent sentient lifeform.

>(like Tierrans, with a world consisting of computing
>nodes and nonlocal memory indexed by templates and energy appearing if
>you do certain things but not other things)?

Interesting, where can I find more about these Tierrans?

>I think it can be done, but it would be extremely hard to do, and
>the process might be rather painful for the entities again (imagine
>being resurrected all alone in a weird caricature of the real world
>where *something* tries to communicate with you - and if you die,
>you are immediately resurrected).

The idea was they would be resurrected together with other
individuals form their world. And why should the resurrection
world be made a weird caricature of their real world. It could
just as well be made as familiar as possible to their real world.

This whole issue reminds me a bit of the Riverworld saga by
Philip Jose Farmer. Here all the people who have once lived
on Earth are resurrected on another planet along the banks
of an extremely long river. The river is spiraling the whole
surface of the planet and the river valleys are separated
by insurmountable mountains. The people are restored with full
health in 25 year old bodies. When killed they will
immediately be resurrected at another location. I enjoyed these
books very much. :->

>Hkl ------> Technology & Future at
Transcedo --> Dutch Transhumanist Society
Because the future is where we will spend the rest of our lives ...
You see things and ask "Why?" ; I dream things and ask "Why not?"