Are you willing to become part of a simulation?

Jeff Bone jbone at
Mon Apr 28 18:55:18 PDT 2003

Sure thing.  Let's go.

On Monday, Apr 28, 2003, at 17:07 US/Central, Russell Turpin wrote:

> Really?


> This is going to be a purely paper simulation. You
> and your entire world will exist as a printed trace
> in volumes and shelves and libraries, showing its
> state evolution from one instant to the next.

Fine, but how do I *feel* about it?

Do I know?

Do I care?

In any simulation worth it's salt, the answers are (a) fine, (b) 
probably not, but maybe, and (c) not really.

> Still happy?

Why not.

> And if not, why not?

No idea.

> Before you enter a simulated world, what qualities
> would you want it to have?

I'd want it to have whatever qualities would allow me to remain 
blissfully ignorant of the fact that I was operating in simulo, if that 
was desirable.  (I'd rather know, but I'd like to know that I didn't 
have to know.  You know? :-)

> [See "Conversation with Einstein's Brain."]

Cf. Bostrom:

...but perhaps even better, Greg Egan's _Permutation City_.  Like most 
Egan works, it gets kind of out of hand.  But it (and other of his 
works) explores the idea of the difference (or lack thereof) of 
different simulation media.

Let's take your argument one step further.  Let's assume that you are 
in fact living in a paper simulation as suggested above.

Do the pages have to be bound together, in order?

Do they even have to be created in any particular order?

Do they have to be observed (read) to reify or realize the simulated 

Is a "disconnected" series of otherwise-independent events, hanging 
together only through the incremental and miniscule changes in their 
otherwise identical internal states, i.e. different congruent moments 
in some arbitrary phase space, equivalent to "experience" the way we 
think about it?

I say the "difference" is not only imperceptible, but that thinking 
there is such a difference is entirely nonsensical unless you have 
access to some preferred, "external" reference frame.  For all intents 
and purposes, any adequately detailed simulation is internally exactly 
equivalent to any other equally detailed simulation, or the postulated 
"real" environment / situation being simulated.  The Chinese Room 
really does think, the Ship of Theseus is still the Ship of Theseus, 
and you've been trillions of different human beings since you were born.

Simulation substrate doesn't matter.  "Book me up, Rusty." ;-)


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