Re: How To Live In A Simulation

From: James Higgins (
Date: Tue Mar 20 2001 - 10:08:33 MST

At 05:02 AM 3/20/2001 -0500, Eliezer S. Yudkowski wrote:
>Depending on how you frame your assumptions, you get different answers at
>this point. Assuming that individual volition holds, it's hard to imagine
>all of humanity being moved into VR... not without them being asked
>first. And it isn't necessarily true that even the transhumanists would
>walk into Diaspora within the first few seconds - there are friends and
>relatives who may get left behind, and once you're a transhuman, you may
>not be allowed to stick around on persuading people - or rather, the
>people on Earth may not want to talk to you.

My idea was designed to give everyone on the order of 20 years to think
about, discuss, and persuade. Plus, it may be difficult to do this on a
"real-time" scale, since 20 real years would equate to an unimaginably long
time for any SI to run a program.

>I'm not sure how this works out. I used to think it would just be a mass
>upload followed by a mass upgrade, but that was on the objective morality
>paradigm. In the Sysop Scenario, the dominant force in the universe is
>volition, and that creates the possibility of commonsense solutions,
>compromises, not the extreme cases that I instinctively feel are more
>realistic. In an extreme case, there's some kind of rush and no
>milliseconds to waste; all the transhumans vanish instantly and all the
>Pedestrians and Undecided stay behind, untouched, possibly even a bit
>confused (though hopefully it should be obvious enough what happened). In
>a highly extreme case, everyone, including the Pedestrians, vanishes into
>the Transcend whether they like it or not. In a compromise solution...
>what happens next will be whatever least violates Earth's massed
>volitions, including our volitions about how conflicting volitions should
>be dealt with, and what is or isn't fair methods of persuasion during the
>Transition period.
>The following scenario is a bit Lothlorien, so I distrust it... but to
>continue working out the consequences: The transhumanists don't instantly
>become superintelligences - most of them don't, anyway - but they do stop
>losing neurons due to aging. Cognitive enhancement proceeds at a very
>slow pace, the natural or irreduceable level of improvement that comes
>from aging without dying. If a transhumanist wanted to stick around on
>Old Earth for a millennium it might get dicey, but the Transition
>presumably ends, and Old Earth is handed off exclusively to the
>Pedestrians, in five or twenty years rather than a thousand. Meanwhile,
>the gently transhuman transhumanists are slowly creeping up the gaussian
>curve, but are not yet directly outside it; so by commonsense, slacky
>application of the second-order rules, gently transhuman transhumanists
>don't pose a contamination threat to the Earth culture the Pedestrians
>will inherit. Similarly, the gentle transhumans can't instantly turn into
>physical supermen or start casting magical spells; that's probably outside
>the range of what the remaining Pedestrians will want to remember in their
>Sticking around on Old Earth to persuade your friends doesn't mean
>volunteering to die, or even to get hurt, so some degree of physical
>invulnerability would appear to be necessary - but then, there's more than
>one way to play that. If the remaining Pedestrians are willing to
>tolerate legends of invulnerability, then OK, guns don't fire or
>whatever. An alternative would be that your body suffers the expected
>physical damage but you just rematerialize a few milliseconds later
>(presumably out of the line of fire). Obviously, this kind of freedom
>implies that a gentle transhuman is also willing to accept that the Sysop
>won't let him or her get into fights with the Pedestrians (it's a bit
>unfair if they can die permanently and you can't). Eating? Going to the
>bathroom? And what happens to the economy when a third of the population
>no longer needs a job? The Sysop can stabilize it easily enough, but only
>if the Pedestrian volition is to temporarily accept that kind of

The world economy will collapse at this point. But, you also need to take
into account several other factors. We pretty much assume nanotech to be
available. The invention of nanotech alone has the potential to cause
incredible problems. First, the economy crashes because A) anyone can
clone anything so all manufacturing companies go out of business and B)
individual people get massive destructive power. Everyone would become
unemployed within weeks, most likely, after widespread availability of the
technology. Preventing wide availability puts near absolute power into a
few hands and thus breeds near absolute corruption. Let's not even talk
about potential accidents. I spent much time thinking about this before I
became aware of the Singularity. Many people in the know plan to get
off-world ASAP at this point due to the danger.

Now add in bio tech with the ability to alter human genes and fuse in
technology. At this point "humans" start to go in different directions,
possibly to great extremes. Possibly causing serious unforeseen complications.

Lastly, add in the expected population growth which, I believe, I read
about on your pages. "Supposedly" the world population is supposed to go
infinite in 2027 or something. Obviously impossible, but it will continue
to grow. Of course, transcendence would actually help here. But if you
also believe in all the environmental stuff such as global warming we have
problems here too.

So, I don't think it will be possible to maintain an "Old Earth" at
all. The environment we live in now will most likely cease to exist
sometime between 2010 and 2030. This is partially why I suggested
uploading everyone into a VR. The VR could be kept viable during all of
this. Grey goo along with any potentially destructive discoveries,
incidents or accidents simply don't happen. The scientists may scratch
their head and ask why, but at least they are still around to do so. I
truly believe this is the only viable long-term (more than a year or two at
most) way to things intact. Well, unless the Sysop decides to "take over"
the real world, in which case why not just do it in a totally immersive VR
where you can't tell the difference anyway.

>To some extent, this is a scenario that I worked out for possible use in
>science fiction... it feels too normal and sane to be real, somehow; too
>much like self-indulgent fantasy. But perhaps that very self-indulgence
>means that the scenario is more likely to happen. It's not SL4... but
>maybe Old Earth doesn't want SL4. Maybe Earth wants a commonsense,
>flexible, non-strict set of solutions to all the various dilemnas that pop
>up during the Transition period. That's the only fundamental reason that
>would allow something so Lothlorien, with so much story potential, to

SL4 may be more shocking, but SL3 technologies are far more destructive and
dangerous. They don't have a mind and they are not "friendly" by nature.

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