Re: The Simulation Argument

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Dec 04 2001 - 20:15:28 MST

Dani Eder wrote:
> I would put this discussion in the same category
> as the hypothesis that God created the universe
> 5 minutes ago with all our memories just right
> to make us think we've been in existence longer.

There are no models of the future that lead us to think that we may
someday wish to create a God who would create a universe that had been
created five minutes before this exact moment. The reason for taking the
simulation argument seriously is that it purports to be a possible
consequence of the present-day universe accepted at face value, and since
the consequences are by hypothesis identical to our present observed
experiences, the simulation argument is a possible causal antecedent of
our present-day experiences.

> In either hypothesis, there is no evidence that
> can show the hypothesis true or false, and it
> doesn't make any difference to how we should
> act in the future.
> So I recommend we leave these hypotheses alone
> until there is some evidence for them, and meanwhile
> act as if this is the real universe.

I also agree that we should act as if this is the real universe, since
it's in the event that this is a pre-Singularity civilization that our
actions have an enormous effect on the whole course of future history -
that is, the stakes are vastly higher.

But I don't think we should just blindly assume that our universe is not a
computer simulation. There is such a thing as evidence that could show
the simulation hypothesis to be true (cosmic voices from the sky being the
most obvious example), and there are things we should do differently in
that case, based on the goal of protecting the simulation or breaking free
of it.

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

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