If we are living in a simulation (and I believe the matrix hypothesis is a
real possibility) and if we are all just software constructs then the
architect has some options available to it. If it is benevolent, then it
could copy (and save) the state of the simulation at various times.  It
could then hunt through the saved states to find the nearest copy to the
state of death of a "person" (ist person experiencer?) in the simulation and
paste it into a new environment (resurrect it!).  Maybe it might like to
"grow" individuals that learn to be better this way.  This is my wishful
thinking of how the simulation might work and how its creator might
"interfere" with it to get what it wants.  All the usual arguments from
theology about the purpose/reason of evil and suffering etc. can be brought
into the debate wholesale from here on.  However because the architect may
not be benevolent towards us it may not choose to resurrect us.  If it is
intelligent enough to make such a simulation then maybe it is moral too but
some have speculated against this (Dainton for example see: Innocence Lost
Simulation Scenarios: Prospects and Consequences
Barry Dainton (2002, October), The University of Liverpool). I can send you
a pdf if you want but give me an e-mail to send to.

When I look at nature it does seem "bloodied tooth and claw".  Is this what
a "good" simulator would have done? Then again in simulations things don't
always work out the way the maker's figured.  I dunno - I've never managed
to go beyond this because there is no data to support anything other than to
say the simulation argument is compelling.

Nick Prince 

     

-----Original Message-----
From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
[mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of David Nyman
Sent: 08 August 2006 00:10
To: Everything List
Subject: Re: The moral dimension of simulation


Nick Prince wrote:

> Who says morality to all other species is useful anyway (for survival) and
> even a defining feature of intelligent species?  In war people kill people
> just like themselves, as long as they wear a different uniform! We drop
atom
> bombs and say it was to save life!!(Hiroshima).  This may be true.  Truth
> and morality can get in conflict.  Morality can therefore easily get lost
in
> the fog.  How expensive it may be to run simulations that generate so many
> forms too.  Perhaps some form of superintelligence decides who will live
or
> die in the simulation.  If you've ever been on a hospital waiting list for
a
> really life threatening illness it is clear how priorities can change the
> moral landscape.  If I made a simulation I would want it to be moral but I
> don't don't know what dilemmas the pandora's box generated by the
simulation
> and the financial or unknown constraints far above my knowing would turn
up.
> That's the interesting thing about simulations - they are run to "see what
> might be when we can't guess the answers". Yet, I hope your right and I'm
> wrong.

Nick

I certainly don't know that I'm right and you're wrong.  I didn't post
my original thoughts because I believe that I have knock down arguments
either that we do or should live in a world with specific moral
imperatives, whether or not it is a 'simulation'.  Rather, I hadn't
seen the sorts of value-based issues you mention given an airing in the
somewhat bloodless 'technical' discussions I've previously read on this
possibility.  So my 'questions' aren't at all intended to be merely
rhetorical, but to elicit intelligent responses such as your own.

However,since I do believe that we're lost if we feel we can't take the
issues in our lives seriously, my motive in posting was in a sense to
test whether others felt in any way influenced in their moral or
practical thinking or behaviour by the possibility (some would say
probability) that our lives are simulations being run for somebody
else's benefit. Some parallels with certain sorts of religious outlook
strike me, in that I've often felt that these do indeed encourage just
such an attitude - that our lives should be ultimately dedicated to
some deity's purposes, not to exploring our own.

One thing you don't say in your interesting response is whether such
considerations influence you personally in any way, or whether they're
just a diverting thought experiment. Your comments would be
interesting.

David

> Dear David
>
> Why is it so difficult to conceive that the simulators should be
> unwittingly? Or in some way non ethical and thoughtless of the pain,
fears,
> loves etc of an interesting by product (or even possibly irritating by
> product) of their simulation.  Do you eat meat?  Trap mice? kill flies?
Wash
> bacteria from your hands?  How much  time and concern do you (we) give to
> these  life forms?  For all we know the cockroach may be the purposeful
> study of the simulation we are in - or even whichever species is "the
> surviving species" of interest at t=time to stop.  I know it feels like we
> should be important but, in the scale of things - it's probably just
> wishfull thinking. A hugely more intelligent species may not even be
moral.
>
> Who says morality to all other species is useful anyway (for survival) and
> even a defining feature of intelligent species?  In war people kill people
> just like themselves, as long as they wear a different uniform! We drop
atom
> bombs and say it was to save life!!(Hiroshima).  This may be true.  Truth
> and morality can get in conflict.  Morality can therefore easily get lost
in
> the fog.  How expensive it may be to run simulations that generate so many
> forms too.  Perhaps some form of superintelligence decides who will live
or
> die in the simulation.  If you've ever been on a hospital waiting list for
a
> really life threatening illness it is clear how priorities can change the
> moral landscape.  If I made a simulation I would want it to be moral but I
> don't don't know what dilemmas the pandora's box generated by the
simulation
> and the financial or unknown constraints far above my knowing would turn
up.
> That's the interesting thing about simulations - they are run to "see what
> might be when we can't guess the answers". Yet, I hope your right and I'm
> wrong.
>
> Nick Prince
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: everything-list@googlegroups.com
> [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of David Nyman
> Sent: 07 August 2006 00:16
> To: Everything List
> Subject: Re: The moral dimension of simulation
>
>
> But your observation goes to the heart of my question.  If we were
> indeed 'merely incidental' (from whose perspective?) then what would
> this say about the ethical position of the simulaters?  Further, if we
> are merely playing the role of 'simple automata' then what is the
> purpose (from the simulaters' viewpoint) of our *conscious* fears,
> pains, loves, life struggle, and so forth?  Are these just an
> unavoidable and unimportant (except to us) 'epiphenomenon' of the
> simulation method?  Or are they what you mean by an 'interesting
> pattern'?  Are we to take our creators' position as being 'superior' to
> ours and if so what does this imply for our own (periodic) moral
> delicacy about the rights and feelings of others - should we perhaps
> view this as mere naivety or lack of intelligence in the light of our
> masters' indifference to ours?
>
> These are the issues I'm attempting to raise in the context of the
> 'simulation hypothesis'.  Of course, there's an aspect of this that
> recapitulates the struggle throughout history to establish humane moral
> criteria in the face of various arbitrary and omnipotent god-figures,
> or for that matter 'blind necessity'.  Even in the teeth of your
> creator, you are not forced to accept the justice of his position, even
> as you bow to his overwhelming force, as Job shows us.
>
> David
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
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