Re: Simulation Argument and ETs

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun May 21 2006 - 21:25:04 MDT

At 04:13 PM 5/21/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>I am pleasantly surprised at how many replies this recieved.
>I have not read any convincing refutations, but there was some interesting
>things to think about.

Nick restated what I said to Hans back in 1986, but it is still the same

The Simulation Argument is a rather intriguing argument made by Nick
Bostrom. It states that:
"At least one of the following propositions is true:
(1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a
posthuman stage;

[Nick is equating "enough computational resources to run a
evolutionary/historical simulation" with "posthuman." I am not sure
"posthuman" was a word I used in those days, but given 20 years I think it
is a fair restatement.]

(2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant
number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
(3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

[I stated it to Hans that future humans with a vast computations resources
*would* simulate the present world and therefore we had had this
conversation many times before (unlikely this was the first). The way Nick
puts it is, in my opinion, equivalent.]

It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will
one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we
are currently living in a simulation."
This follows logically. If they run vast numbers of simulations, the
chances of this being the first time is close to zero, but never exactly zero.

Is this a simulation or not? Who knows? Does it make any
difference? Nope. If it concerns you, spread the meme, "Thou shall not
simulate the past!"

>"x unless y" does mean that x is mutually exclusive with y. Thus, his
>conclusion is false.
>Some of you thought Bostrom did take into consideration that some
>post-singularity ET would create simulations, and that others would
>not. My point in writing that was that the statement was worded poorly,
>and possibly exposing a Modernist perspective that progress is one
>path. What happens to the argument if exactly 50 percent of
>post-singularity ET create simulations?

Somehow I missed what ETs have to do with it. This was about post*humans*
unless you are making the case that we are in a simulation run by
ETs. (Actually that *would* explain a lot.)

The real question is why I was hit out of the blue with this strange idea
while talking to Hans 20 years ago?

The only interesting possibility is that some posthuman jokester interfered
with the simulation and planted it in my mind. (Evil chuckles in the

If you know anything about my history, especially the last ten years, you
would understand my half joking comments about being a character in a
collaboration by Gore Vidal and John Grisham with overtones of Steven King.

Or perhaps it is just karma payback to have a UFO cult trying to kill me
because of the UFO hoaxes I pulled 40 plus years ago.

Keith Henson

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