RE: New website: The Simulation Argument

From: Nick Bostrom (
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 17:17:11 MST

Damien wrote:

Nick assumes univocity all the way down and sideways, whereas a Tiplerian version argues
for redemptive or meliorative alternative instantiations of all possible
worlds, while a pure `experimentalist' perspective might expect every
possible world, including unmitigated suffering to the highest degree
inflicted as widely as feasible. The former would make the likelihood of
this universe being exactly simmed very low indeed

If that is so, then most of the credence you assign to the Simulation-hypothesis should be passed on to the more specific hypothesis that we are living in a simulation and that posthumans mostly run ancestor-simulations of a kind similar to the world that we are experiencing.

(Note, BTW, that the likelihood of finding ourselves in situation x is diminished by the postulation that most observers find themselves in situation y only if the latter observers are in the same reference class as we are. I can't go into it here, but this stuff (and much more!) is described by my theory of observation selection effects, which I present in a forthcoming book <plug> Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy (Routledge, New York, April 2002). Five sample chapters are available at Or see how philosophy is relevant to traffic analysis, :-) <\plug>)

it is an intriguing
exercise to consider the P values if the later is the case (are we most
probably in one of the `most mediocre possible worlds'? not too hot, not
too cold, just pretty damned ordinary).

That depends on the frequency of different kinds of simulated worlds, which in turn depends on the simulators' interests and inclinations, which are hard to predict.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520 | Phone: (203) 432-1663 | Fax: (203) 432-7950

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