RE: The "morals" of torturing simulated creatures.

From: Rafal Smigrodzki (
Date: Tue Apr 29 2003 - 18:27:14 MDT

Perry Metzger wrote:

> I'll leave the argument about whether anyone has the desire to stop
> people from performing certain computations that simulate the
> torturing of sentients to others, and stick to the question of the
> ability to stop them.
> It is likely (given the way the world is structured) going to be
> rather difficult for anyone to stop such things, whether they have the
> desire or not. It is trivial to determine that your neighbor has not
> killed his children (observe the children playing in the yard, say),
> but it is rather difficult to prove he hasn't performed a particular
> computation. As I recall, Rice's Theorem would rather get in the way
> even if you could produce some sort of reasonable rigorous definition
> of the computations that we are said to dislike here. As a practical
> matter, even doing a very bad job might require devoting a
> considerable fraction of the mass of the universe to watching what the
> rest of the mass was being used for at all times. Not a particularly
> likely scenario, IMHO.

### Since the suffering of simulations would in most cases happen only if
caused by actions of sentients willing to cause it (=malicious), or
unwilling to take simple precautions (=neglectful), supervision of the
volitional aspects of sentient computations should be sufficient to prevent
most of it. All you need is to look into the equivalent of the
fronto-orbital cortex of the sentient, check if this part of the system
contains the requisite rules (e.g. Rawlsian reciprocity), is stably in
control of the whole personality, and voila, all the computational substrate
under the personality's control is safe for simulated sentients, even if
there is space for multitudes of Lee Corbins in simulated dungeons.


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