Looking at what we can see of our universe, there don't seem to be many folks like us around.
There don't seem to be many folks around at all.
Aware beings seem to arise only rarely, from what we can tell. That's Fact #1. Fact #2 is that we are, nonetheless, aware beings. (Hi!)
Should we assume things are as they seem - that our experiencing selves arose through rare natural processes? That we are among the few beings who will ever wake up and experience the universe?
Or should we wonder at the coincidence of our existence and our a priori unlikeliness? Should we suspect, perhaps, that we are not the special unicorns of the galaxy that we appear to be, but rather are ordinary in a way that is hidden to us? Because which is more likely: that we are among the 200 billion aware beings who will ever live in our universe, or that we are as grains of sand among the ten-to-the-fuckload beings who might exist in the simulations of some simulation-capable entity?
So you're in a simulation. What can you do if you don't want to play anymore?
From the existence of miserable folks since Jeremiah,* we have some evidence as to our simulator overlords' value system: they don't give a fuck if we don't want to be here. Actively trying to get out of the simulation and hitting the "off" button over and over again does not seem to exempt us from participation. They do not seem to restrict themselves to creating only creatures that are glad to be alive. We know this about them; what else do we know? What could their purposes be for having us here, and what, if anything, would motivate them to let us stop existing?
Some folks seem to leave for good and we don't interact with them again - death seems final, in our universe. But what if that's not how it works in the big simulation? Given the information we have about our simulation and our overlords, is there any strategy to speak of for (a) getting out of the current simulation and (b) preventing oneself from being recreated in other simulations?
I imagine longevity enthusiasts would be interested in the flip side: is there anything they can do to ensure they get copied and re-used as widely as possible in everybody and their mother's simulation?
And if our universe is as it seems but simulation capabilities are in our own society's future, is my boyfriend correct in suggesting that I'm putting myself at risk of future involuntary simulation by being friends with quirky AI geeks?
* 20:14-18 "Cursed be the day on which I was born; let not the day on which my mother bore me be blessed. Cursed be the man. . . because he slew me not from the womb; so that my mother might have been my grave and her womb always great. Why did I come out of the womb to see labour and sorrow?" Quoted in Benatar, "Abortion: The 'Pro-Death' View," Chapter 5 of Better Never to have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.