Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom has suggested that we might be living in a computer simulation essentially because a future civilization with access to massive computational resources could trivially simulate the history of mankind, and if at least a few historians created ancestor simulations then most “people” who have had your experiences would be simulations.  Economist Robin Hanson pointed out that future historians might not simulate everyone who’s ever existed but rather some will only simulate interesting people.  An obvious implication of this is that Barack Obama should have a much higher estimate of being in a simulation than ordinary people do.  When I was a teenager (long before Bostrom published his simulation article) and dreamed of being president I actually worried that if I did someday perceive that I was president it would mean I was probably insane because most people who are under the impression that they are the President of the United States are indeed insane.

Does the simulation argument, I wonder, imply that your life is more likely to become interesting?  In the extreme case if you currently live a boring life, knew you were in a computer simulation, and believed that only people with interesting lives get simulated then you would think that your life would someday become interesting.  Imagine that next year there is some one in a million event which if it occurs will make my life extraordinarily interesting and worth simulating, otherwise the totality of my life will be boring.  Let’s also assert that the universe is really, really large and throughout it exactly 1,000,000 of (non-simulated) me will be born somewhere in spacetime.  Let’s further postulate that the one me who ends up living an interesting life (because only this version of me experiences that one in 1 million event) get simulated billions of times.  This means that the vast majority of people that have my current experiences are simulations that will go on to experience this one in 1 million event.  All of us, for analogous reasons, should raise our estimates of our life becoming interesting.

The most likely avenue by which my life will turn out to become interesting would be through the singularity movement.  Although I will almost certainly never play a huge part of it if, as Vernor Vinge writes, the singularity will be comparable in importance to “the rise of human life on earth” then playing even a teeny part in the singularity community might be enough to get vast numbers of simulations of you made.  So perhaps, dear reader, an insightful comment you will someday write on this blog is the very reason that you exist.

 

 

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