Hal wrote:

> > >I wonder if you consider the possibility that there is no matter of fact
> > >as to whether we are living in a simulation?  Suppose that we live in real
> > >life, and also get simulated one or more times, then our consciousness
> > >cannot be localized to any specific instantiation.
> >
> > A brain (or a particular simulation of a brain) can refer indexically to
> > itself. Suppose you have two brains, A and B, in exactly the same internal
> > states, both of whom think of themselves that they are in a red box.
> > Suppose A is in a red box and B is in a blue box. Then A has a true belief
> > and B has a false belief, and there seems to be an objective fact of the
> > matter that this is so.
>I don't think it is right to say that a brain has beliefs.  It seems to me
>that beliefs are a property of a mind.  Saying that a brain has beliefs
>is a shorthand for saying that the brain instantiates a conscious program,
>and that the consciousness has beliefs.

Suppose we accept this view. The phrasing of the simulation-argument would 
then change to one where the simulation-hypothesis states that the vast 
majority of machines running your mind are virtual machines. I would then 
argue that our preferences are such that if we think that most of our 
implementations are virtual machines then we should care most about the 
consequences of our actions for this majority of implementations (just as 
in MWI we'd want things to go well for us on branches that get higher 
measure). Then I think the practical implications of the argument would 
remain the same.

>In this case then we would say that the consciousness believes that it
>is in a red box.  More precisely, it would believe that the brain which
>instantiates it is in a red box.  But "the brain which instantiates it"
>is not well defined, since two brains instantiate it.

Hmm. Would you say the analogous thing about temporally distinct but 
qualitatively identical observations of the same person? Say, you wake up 
first at 7 am for one minute and again at 8 am for another minute. Suppose 
you know all along that you will awake on these two occasions and that both 
times you will be in the same conscious state of thinking "It is 7 am now." 
It would seem natural to say that the first time you awoke, you were right 
and the second time you were wrong. Suppose a little later you look at the 
clock and it says "8:01". Mightn't you then say to yourself "Gee! When just 
a second ago I just thought it was 7 I was badly mistaken!"

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520 | Phone: (203) 432-1663 | Fax: (203) 432-7950
Homepage: http://www.nickbostrom.com

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