[Link] How the Simulation Argument Dampens Future Fanaticism

post by David Althaus (wallowinmaya) · 2016-09-09T13:17:53.233Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 13 comments

Very comprehensive analysis by Brian Tomasik on whether (and to what extent) the simulation argument should change our altruistic priorities. He concludes that the possibility of ancestor simulations somewhat increases the comparative importance of short-term helping relative to focusing on shaping the "far future".

Another important takeaway: 

[...] rather than answering the question “Do I live in a simulation or not?,” a perhaps better way to think about it (in line with Stuart Armstrong's anthropic decision theory) is “Given that I’m deciding for all subjectively indistinguishable copies of myself, what fraction of my copies lives in a simulation and how many total copies are there?"

 

13 comments

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comment by streondj · 2016-09-10T03:25:50.560Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

perfect copies are impossible ala conservation of quantum information http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0306044v1.pdf

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2016-09-11T18:41:02.926Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That only applies if the simulation is implemented using actual quantum mechanics to give the appearance of quantum mechanics, AND our brains are implemented using this actual quantum mechanics.

Even in that case, if the simulation can be suspended and the brains measured with a noise floor well below thermal noise, then the copies can be good enough that no experiment from inside the simulation could ever detect the copy event occurring, and arbitrarily many copies can be made without further degradation.

comment by Val · 2016-09-09T21:23:13.237Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't the "Do I live in a simulation?" question practically indistinguishable from the question "does God exist?", for a sufficiently flexible definition for "God"?

For the latter, there are plenty of ethical frameworks, as well as incentives for altruism, developed during the history of mankind.

comment by Houshalter · 2016-09-09T22:54:22.938Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No not really. There is plausible reasoning to believe simulations will someday exist in our future (or if we are in the simulation, our past). I don't think there is much reason to believe in a creator otherwise, and certainly not the very specific ones that major religions believe.

comment by Gram_Stone · 2016-09-09T22:56:12.140Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't the "Do I live in a simulation?" question practically indistinguishable from the question "does God exist?", for a sufficiently flexible definition for "God"?

Can you expand? This confused me.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-10T02:58:29.350Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Those who have created and are running a simulation are, for all purposes, Gods to those inside the simulation.

comment by streondj · 2016-09-10T03:20:14.561Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless of course We created the simulation. And you (among others) have voluntarily forgotten the fact, in order to better appreciate the full immersion experience.

As the case may be, taking into consideration that it would be consistent with in-between-life hypnoregression. http://newtoninstitute.org/

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-10T16:33:29.523Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless of course We created the simulation.

No, not unless. Someone is running the simulation, someone has control. These someones are Gods regardless of their origin.

You don't mean that a civilization put a dream-maker on full autopilot and then jumped in, do you?

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2016-09-11T18:33:44.117Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nothing said or began to imply that every member of the outside society entered the simulation.

If you enter a simulation, it is reasonable to suspect that you had some degree of say over what kind of simulation it is. Far from certain, of course.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-11T22:29:30.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

you had some degree of say

(emphasis mine). Notice the tense.

Things change.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2016-09-13T16:15:13.819Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't quite follow what the objection is. Suppose Alice and Bob design a simulation. They design it so that once started it will run with no interference from either of them or anyone else until it is done. Then Alice enters, while Bob does not; it then begins.

To the extent that this sim has gods, Alice is one. But there is no one outside with control. Also, the civilization did not all hop into the sim.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-09-13T17:11:36.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

They design it so that once started it will run with no interference from either of them or anyone else until it is done.

This is the case of the "dream-maker on full autopilot", right?

But I'm curious about Bob. Can Bob meddle with the simulation if he decides he wants to? Can he hit the off switch? Cut the wires? Smash the computing substrate into tiny little pieces?

To the extent that this sim has gods, Alice is one.

Why so? Alice is not a god. She has no special ("supernatural") powers. Since we are talking about our empirical reality maybe/possibly being a simulation, Alice even does not remember being outside of the simulation. She is just another unique snowflake in the Matrix. Now, Bob, he's in a very different position.

comment by Riothamus · 2016-09-12T18:25:27.184Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the grounds that those ethical frameworks rested on highly in-flexible definitions for God, I am skeptical of their applicability. Moreover, why would we look at a different question where we redefine it to be the first question all over again?