Ancestor Simulations and the Dangers of Simulation Probes

Erkenntnis:1-11 (forthcoming)
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Preston Greene (2020) argues that we should not conduct simulation investigations because of the risk that we might be terminated if our world is a simulation designed to research various counterfactuals about the world of the simulators. In response, we propose a sequence of arguments, most of which have the form of an "even if” response to anyone unmoved by our previous arguments. It runs thus: (i) if simulation is possible, then simulators are as likely to care about simulating simulations as they are likely to care about simulating basement (i.e. non-simulated) worlds. But (ii) even if simulations are interested only in simulating basement worlds the discovery that we are in a simulation will have little or no impact on the evolution of ordinary events. But (iii) even if discovering that we are in a simulation impacts the evolution of ordinary events, the effects of seeming to do so could also happen in a basement world, and might be the subject of interesting counterfactuals in the basement world Finally, (iv) there is little reason to think that there is a catastrophic effect from successful simulation probes, and no argument from the precautionary principle can be used to leverage the negligible credence one ought have in this. Thus, if we do develop a simulation probe, then let’s do it.

Author Profiles

David Braddon-Mitchell
University of Sydney
Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University


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