Re: {Semi-Fluff} Anti-Singularitarianism

From: Simon Gordon (
Date: Sat Dec 18 2004 - 20:10:14 MST

 --- Jeff Medina <> wrote:

> For "Robin exists only in the simulation" to imply
> "Robin is an NPC"
> (hence "Robin is a non-conscious, non-volitional
> 'prop' character
> whose actions are decided by a 'Dungeon Master' - or
> Simulation Master
> in this case, I suppose"), you would need the
> additional premise that
> computation (e.g., a simulation) cannot give rise to
> consciousness.
> One would imagine that to be a rather unconventional
> view among
> SL4ers.
> Simon, do you believe real AI is not possible? Or
> that, even if it
> could appear to be a thinking thing, it would
> somehow not possess
> consciousness? (Or possess a lesser consciousness
> than humans?)

I believe real AI is possible certainly. And yes, i
also believe it is possible to create the exact
appearance of a thinking thing without it actually
thinking (as a proof of concept: consider making a 3D
movie recording of someone performing some action and
then play it back as a hologram to a naive observer,
obviously this relies on technology much more advanced
than we have today, but the point is...illusion can
demonstrate behaviour which is indistinguishable from
real, but appearance is not reality).

> If not, your allusion is misleading. Robin, me, and
> you could all be
> conscious beings who only exist in a computer
> simulation, without
> being "NPCs".

Yep it is, i apologise for the misunderstanding, its a
bit obscure. I was taking it for granted that the most
probable simulated worlds similar to our own are
mostly occupied by zombie NPCs and perhaps a small
number of genuinely conscious beings (the PCs) - a
good reason being that this would minimize the total
amount of suffering endured in a simulation of the
modern world. The PCs of course are in the simulation
to do whatever their purpose is and then return to the
host world. NPCs are just there to make everything
seem more realistic and dont have an afterlife or a
purpose, but if they are not conscious then there are
no ethical issues.

> -----
> Simon: "An individual consciousness that was
> terminated would
> presumably return to the world where it began prior
> to entering the
> simulation."
> This again implies that a consciousness in a
> computer simulation could
> not have originated there. Since this is contrary to
> common
> Singularitarian views, it not surprising struck
> Robin as a bizarre
> assumption. I find it strange as well.

same answer here.

> Simon: "I suppose it boils down to what you would
> expect the ethical
> standards of our hosts to be. Would they really
> allow sentient beings
> to be born and destroyed for self-interest in the
> same way that humans
> treat cattle? Or is it more likely that we are here
> for experience or
> education or some other perhaps more sophisticated
> motive?"
> Here, I agree; the moral status attributed to
> sentient Sims (following
> Weatherson's reply to Bostrom) by the maintainers of
> the simulation
> (if any have stuck around to watch over us) is
> critical to whether
> Sims should fear for their lives. But, seeing as we
> have no direct
> knowledge of our sim-creators, any assumption about
> their ethics is
> dubious at best, so we can and should take seriously
> the possibility
> that our sim-creators do not care about our
> well-being.

Interestingly, how much they care about us seems tied
to how good we are at creating a friendly
posthumanity, since there is a kind of recursiveness
to the whole thing.. our decisions in-sim may be just
as important as if we werent (depending on how
realistic the simulation is).

Simon G.

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