Re: Time and Minds

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sat Sep 22 2001 - 14:35:44 MDT

Xavier Lumine wrote:
> I don't really see why a Greater-than-Human Artificial Intelligence running
> a simulation would ever deem necessary to insert an event such as the World
> Trade Center. Frankly, exterminating members of a simulation does not fit
> into the goal-system of a simulation-controlling GIAI.

Not Friendly minds, at any rate, or any minds with the least concern for
human feelings. It is possible to construct plausible scenarios in which
the world is a simulation of noninterventionist and utterly uncaring
superintelligences. Trying to construct a scenario in which there is any
degree of interaction between us and the superintelligence runs into the
basic fact that this world does not look like there are any
superintelligences active in it. If interacting with a hostile
superintelligence, I expect the world to look a lot worse; if interacting
with a benevolent superintelligence, I expect the world to look MUCH
better. The fact that our world looks like it is being run strictly by
the laws of physics almost completely disconfirms the hypothesis that it
is being run by a benevolent interventionist superintelligence - the
Bayesian probability goes to almost zero.

Rationalized religious theories often need to invent exotic scenarios in
which it's okay to split the Red Sea a few thousand years ago, but not to
save a cancer victim in the present day. In other words, rationalized
religious theories naturally give rise to highly inconsistent and
inexplicable theories of when a superintelligence will intervene and why;
pain and death are "natural tests" in one instance, and horrors in
another; a miracle is an unacceptable giveaway of intervention today, but
was a great proof to the glory of God a few centuries ago. Now
superintelligences may of course be inexplicable, but the problem is that
these inconsistencies are *not* inexplicable. They have a very clear and
obvious pattern. They are the result of trying to rationalize a religion
whose testified miracles are all memetically generated false stories about
past events. In an Internet-connected world it's much harder to generate
false stories about current events, so the religion's account of the
present and the past will be inconsistent. Similarly, if you have a world
entirely governed by the laws of physics, intelligent entities that evolve
will be stuck in a world that is painful and inconvenient until they fix
it, and until they fix it, their fuzzier thinkers will try to rationalize
it - given a certain cognitive architecture, anyway.

Everything I see is consistent with a strictly-physics world full of
unnecessary pain - including the people trying to explain why it isn't
really unnecessary.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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