Many-worlds Immortality and the Simulation Argument

An alternative to the simulation argument:

Nick Bostrom’s Simulation Argument argues that at least one of the following must be true:

  • the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage
  • any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history
  • or we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation

However, I see other possibilities. Assumptions:

  • The strong many-worlds theory is correct (i.e. all consistent mathematical systems exist as universes, a.k.a “everything exists”)
  • The many-worlds immortality theory is correct (i.e. for every conscious state there is at least one smooth continuation of that state in the many-worlds)

Given these assumptions, it doesn’t matter if we are in a simulation because our conscious state exists in many simulations and many non-simulated worlds that look identical to us (but are different in imperceptible ways). Even if all the simulations stopped, there would still be a continuation of our conscious state in a non-simulated world consistent with our observations to date.

Further, it seems that there are more non-simulated worlds than simulated worlds. This is because there are many ways a mathematical model can exist so that it cannot be formulated in a finite way, and therefore not simulatable by an intelligent entity. It might even be that simulatable world are of measure zero in the many-worlds.

Further out ideas:

A fascinating related idea is the Egan Jump as described in the book Permutation City. The idea is to jump to another world in the many-worlds by simulating the genesis of a new universe. In this universe you code yourself into the initial conditions, and design the rules so that you end up as an upload in the substrate of the new universe. Because that universe will continue as it’s own mathematical model, your conscious state will continue in that universe, branching off your original self.

Yet another, more distantly related idea is that the peculiarities of our universe (quantum physics, large amounts of empty space) are in a sense an error correcting mechanism. Because any perturbation of a world is also a world, the result is quite chaotic and inhospitable to meaningful life. The structure we see around us with large aggregates “average out” the chaos. This leads to a stable environment as required for conscious observers to arise.

4 Responses to Many-worlds Immortality and the Simulation Argument

  1. Mike Treder says:

    Nice connection between Many-worlds & Simulation — I hadn’t thought of it that way before!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with the connection. I’m bouncing around the idea of simulation independence – let me know what you think:

  3. John Laurie says:

    I think you have to look at it from a first person perspective.

    Many Worlds seems to guarantee first person immortality. But a big objection raised to this is why I/we finf myself/ourselves of normal age as due to random sampling we should be of ridiculously advanced age.

    We appear to live in an age where rapid developments in technology may be leading to a ‘technological singularity’ in the near future. This may involve full immersion virtual reality and mind uploading.

    Many Worlds and QM makes this almost inevitable as this method of survival is far more probable than surviving a large meteor strike, a global nuclear war, or a plague. These things are eliminated from our likely first person experience stack, so to speak.

    So, fast foreward into the future (near or distant) and we are technologically advanced…..but BORED! We hanker for the good old days when we were young again. So we simply plug into a simulation called the late 20th/early 21st century’.

    I supect there are two versions of such a programme. One where we realise we are in a simulation, and one where we don’t. When we complete this one (where we don’t know) we may then choose to re-enter bits of it with the knowledge that its just a simulation and play around in it. Maybe relive old experiences and do things differently.

    And when we get bored with that….go back into a full scale virtual life with no prerequisite knowledge again. Just pick it off the shelf at a future Tesco, take it home, plug in and play for 70 years or whatever.

    That, with a great probability, is where we are now.

    • Jason says:

      John, these are my thoughts exactly. I wonder if you could link me to somewhere I can read more of, or discuss, these thoughts and ideas?

      It does seem highly unlikely, assuming MWI and quantum immortality to be correct, that we are experiencing the ‘first instance’ of progression into a posthuman paradigm. Re-living a simulated version of it seems almost infinitely more probable.

      I wonder how different to the ‘first instance’ this reality actually is?

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