Robin Hanson has, of course, written about how the simulation hypothesis should affect our behavior.

Implications of living within a Simulation

by Tater 1 min read18th Mar 20197 comments

1


Disclaimer:

It is important to already understand the simulation argument given by Nick Bostrom. This post assumes that we are in an ancestor simulation, so if you do not know what that is, definitely read this first.

Reader discretion advised, as this rabbit hole is pretty deep...

Implications of living within a simulation

If we assume that we are in an ancestor simulation, then it might be worth while to consider what we know about our sim. There are a few things that we can immediately agree on, such as the physical rules of our universe that are not naturally breakable like the speed of light. Also we can agree that this simulation is vast if what we call "the universe" is our simulation.

Despite us knowing these thing, there is far more that we do not know such as the nature of the beings who created the sim. Is is us, or a different life form? For what purpose are we being simulated?

The question of the simulations purpose intrigues me the most. More specifically, what is our role in the simulation's purpose.

Surely it must have a purpose. Perhaps they are trying to discover things about the base universe that are only reasonably possible through simulation. If it is us, then they might be observing humans directly, and looking for answers they have lost to time. Point being, I could speculate all day on the purpose and achieve nothing concrete.

Okay so we don't know the purpose, but something disturbing occurred to me after this question consumed me for months. Any possible reason for the simulation has one of two facts attached to it. Either the simulation is one specifically of humans, or it has nothing to do with us whatsoever. In other words, we are either the subjects of it, or an anomaly in a simulation of infinite possibility created for an unknown purpose.

So if we are not the subject, then do we even want the simulators to know that we exist?

It is troubling not knowing the purpose because we could be interfering with it. For instance, if they want to observe large scale universal events (planets colliding, supernovas, etc.), then life has the potential to directly interfere with that goal. They could send an asteroid at us if they felt we interfered with their goals. Perhaps we stress the simulation by smashing particles together and creating extremely small black holes for a few nano-seconds. Frankly we could just be increasing the energy level required by the sim to simulate us, and that could draw unwanted attention. In fact this could explain the Fermi Paradox. Any life that develops technology strong enough to influence, interfere with, or otherwise stress the simulation could be removed from it by the simulators.

Honestly this is just one of many ways that the simulation hypothesis could explain the Fermi Paradox, however that isn't the point of this post.

Conclusion:

If you assume that we are living within a simulation, then it is very possible that observing us is not the purpose of it. That assumption leads to the worrying question of whether or not we should draw attention to ourselves. Although we do not know the sim's purpose, we might not need to in order to know that we might want to remain anonymous within it.

1