Re: New website: The Simulation Argument

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 17:17:12 MST

Bryan Moss wrote:
> Nick Bostrom wrote:
> There's
> even a hint of an argument against simulations here: if your
> physics allows you to state the exact configuration of some
> part of the universe at a particular time, then there's the
> chance that you're living in a simulation, therefore you can't
> know that your physics is correct -- PARADOX!

No, not paradox. It simply means that you go on simulating the ancestors
without being certain that your simulation uses the real laws of physics.
Or if you can't get back the exact world-state, then you run a series of
successive approximations. Or for that matter the bizarre purpose behind
the simulation could simply require some generic ancestorlike situations,
not the reduplication of specific past history.

When dealing with painful possibilities, such as that our whole world is a
computer simulation and we are permanently screwed by the uncaring intent
of the simulators, it's important not to misinterpret a very small amount
of negative evidence as a decisive argument. I think that we tend to
exaggerate the force of arguments ending in the conclusion "And therefore,
we are not living in a computer simulation."

Of course, I think this happens because of the generally bad architecture
of the human reinforcement system plus some specific evolved
vulnerabilities to rationalization, rather than the effect being due to
specific tampering by our simulators. If it were tampering, the very
obviousness of it would be an anomaly, so it's not tampering. And
therefore, we are not living in a computer simulation.

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

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