Re: Simulation Argument

From: Charles D Hixson (
Date: Sun May 21 2006 - 16:19:12 MDT

Keith Henson wrote:
> At 02:09 PM 5/21/2006 -0500, Damien wrote:
>> At 10:58 AM 5/21/2006 -0400, Keith Henson wrote:
>> ...
> Will try to get and read them.
> It kind of got away from me in that chapter I posted. I was trying to
> refute the idea expressed in various transhuman forums that people
> would never upload. Of course they would if you made it attractive,
> reversible and sold it to them "on the gradient." The problem is if
> you make something attractive enough to suck in 90% of the population,
> a minor miscalculation and the whole population is gone.
> Keith
>> Damien Broderick
If you make it attractive enough to such in 90% of the people, the
remaining 10% will be either incapable of or not interested in
maintaining a technological civilization. I think we could lose 40% at
random without excessive problem, but those who volunteer for such a
system would not be "at random". This has been touched on by several SF
authors in various contexts, and with various degrees of care, in works
from "The Care and Breeding of Pigs" (forget the author, depopulation by
disease) to Vinge's "The Peace War" (or, as I remember it, "The Bobble
War"). I suppose that "When Worlds Collide/After Worlds Collide", by
Balmer, would also count though that's almost colonization rather than
depopulation. Also consider "Earth Abides" by somebody Stewart, and
"City" by Clifford Simak. Lots of various outcomes, depending on the
message they were trying to send as much as on the logical nature of the
situation. But unanimous in that severe depopulation is extremely
stressful to a social system, and technical systems that aren't
self-maintaining are likely to disintegrate.

Another extreme example is "The Eden Cycle" by R. Gallun. Actually,
that's the one that closest to the scenario that you are describing.
And his answer was that after a certain crucial percentage of the
population moved into virtual reality, the degradation of the social
environment would cause most of the rest to migrate also. Particularly
since it would be there as a constant temptation for future generations,
so whenever things got tough, they was a way to escape them. There are
a lot of good reasons that that book is worth reading and
contemplating. Very few have put as much though into what virtual
reality would MEAN as he did...mean socially, not technically.
Actually, I believe that the book predates almost all of the theoretical
work on virtual reality, and it still covers living there in more depth
that almost anyone else. It is true, however, that he keeps having his
viewpoint characters revert to "unenhanced". OTOH, he makes it clear
that they are a small minority (i.e., two), so there's no implication
that everyone so reverted. It's not high literary style, but it's
excellent futurism, even now it's high futurism, and it's decades old.

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