Digital Compassion

We truly only have one hope now…


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(c) 2024 Simon Goodson.
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Digital Compassion Book Cover

Digital Compassion

Are we living in a simulation?

It’s a question which gets asked often these days, and one for which we don’t have a definite answer. Many people believe the odds are stacked heavily in favour of it being the case. Their logic goes that if it’s possible to simulate “everything”, then it will be done – and not once but many times. Maybe hundreds. Maybe thousands. Maybe millions.

If within those simulations intelligences reach a stage where they could create completely realistic simulations, they too could create millions of simulations within each of the millions of simulations.

The number of simulations could become almost immeasurable, whilst the number of real universes remains one. So if completely realistic simulations where conscious beings can arise are possible, we are almost certainly living in one. The odds that we’d be in the real universe are untold billions to one against. That’s what they say. But I know they’re wrong. They’re wrong for one reason. Compassion!

Think about it! For creatures to have reached the stage where they could simulate a convincing reality where conscious creatures can emerge they must be hugely advanced. It seems unlikely any creatures would reach that advanced a stage without developing a great deal of compassion. Without it they’d end up destroying themselves by war, ecological disaster, runaway technology, or the like.

And then we believe such a compassionate species would create all those simulations? Really? Think about everything that happens in the world around us. The pain. The suffering. The lives tragically cut short. Wars and famines. Diseases and accidents. All of that suffering… all of it inflicted on conscious beings by the super-intelligent creatures who setup the simulation? That’s just not possible. Not if they had a shred of compassion.

I know it’s not exactly absolute proof, but I believe it’s the next best thing. No truly compassionate super-intelligent being would create simulations in which other entities suffered so badly.

And if I’m wrong… if I’m wrong then all I can say is I hope humans never reach the point where we can create such simulations, whether we inhabit the real world or a simulation. For while we cannot control the choices of other sentient beings, I’d at least hope that humans could show compassion and not force new sentients into suffering. If not then I don’t believe we, as a race, deserve to survive.

But I’m an optimist, so I choose to believe in digital compassion. And if you don’t agree… then find a way to reprogram me!

The End

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