Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> They're not just simulating us, are they? They might have just slapped
> together a virtual universe in an idle moment to see how it turns out. Maybe
> they're more interested in star formation, or bacteria or something. Is an E. 
> coli
> in your gut justified in thinking God made the universe, including human guts,
> just for its benefit?

Stathis

I see what you mean, of course. However, it's not really what I was
trying to elicit by my original post. If I were to try to justify my
actions to you in the sort of way you describe above, I don't think
you'd be very accepting of this, nor would much of the rest of society.
I don't mean to say that there isn't a great deal of hypocrisy and
deviation from ethical conduct in the real world, but unless one is
prepared to discard the project of working together to make things
better rather than worse, I believe that we should take ethical
dialogue seriously. My sense is that much more advanced civilisations
would have developed in this area too, not just technologically - for
one thing, they have presumably found ways to live in harmony and not
self-destruct.  So at the least these issues would have meaning for
them.

That's why I feel that your dismissal of the issues isn't very
illuminating. BTW, I don't intend this as a complaint, I'm just
clarifying what I had in mind in my original questions - that it would
be interesting to explore the ethical dimensions of possible simulaters
and their simulations. I think you're saying that we can't know and
shouldn't care, which I don't find very interesting.

As a challenge to your view, might I suggest that in your example re
the E. coli - if we knew that the E. coli was conscious and had
feelings, we might be more concerned about it. Do you think it's a
reasonable assumption that technologists capable enough to include us
in their simulation, regardless of their 'ultimate purpose', would a)
not know we had consciousness and feelings, or b) not care, and if so,
on what justification? Or is this simply unfathomable? I'm not asking
rhetorically, I'm really interested.

David

> Brent Meeker writes:
>
> > David Nyman wrote:
> > > Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >>Perhaps it says something about the nature of the simulation's creators,
> > >>but I don't see that it says anything about the probability that we are
> > >>living in one.
> > >
> > >
> > > Do you mean that if we are living in one, then the moral standards of
> > > its creators are reprehensible (to our way of thinking) or at least
> > > opaque?
> >
> > But the hypothesis that the creators are like us is part of the
> > justification for supposing they would run simulations of intelligent
> > beings.  If you then argue that their motivations and ethics might be alien
> > to us, you've discarded any reason for supposing they would simulate us.
>
> They're not just simulating us, are they? They might have just slapped
> together a virtual universe in an idle moment to see how it turns out. Maybe
> they're more interested in star formation, or bacteria or something. Is an E. 
> coli
> in your gut justified in thinking God made the universe, including human guts,
> just for its benefit?
>
> Stathis Papaioannou
> _________________________________________________________________
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