Human emulator and ethics?

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armandowall
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Human emulator and ethics?

Postby armandowall » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:26 am UTC

Hi all,

I've been reading the latest threads, and also did a search and couldn't find anything about this topic. Hopefully, it belongs here (if it doesn't, my apologies).

Suppose there's a hypothetical computer application that can emulate a human being (or more accurately, physics and chemical reactions en masse). And by emulating, I mean the whole thing. You would initially feed the application with a file containing a real and complete sequence of human DNA. Then, the application would run the emulation, molecule by molecule, chemical reaction by chemical reaction, from conception to birth. Let's spare the details about the conditions of his/her environment.

The cool thing about such application is that scientists could then experiment on such a virtual being, and no real humans or animals would be harmed. Scientists could test the brain, slice it, etc. They could test new drugs on him/her, induce diseases and find cures, etc.

And that's where ethics comes along. Since we're talking about an accurate emulation here, down to the level of atoms/molecules, that would mean that the virtual human would react the same way as a real one would. He/she would feel virtual pain, virtual pleasure, heat and cold, etc. He/she would think, and reflect on his/her situation.

Sure we could say "oh, it's just a program stored in computer memory." But that virtual human wouldn't know this. <--- I'm not taking any stance here, just thinking aloud.

Would it be ethical to fiddle around with such kind of emulations/simulations?

I've been thinking about this topic for a few months, but more so after reading this BBC article:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8012496.stm

Thoughts?

thehivemind5
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby thehivemind5 » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:40 am UTC

I think it would be about as ethical as slicing open a real human being.

Changing the medium upon which a human life and intelligence plays itself out does not change humanity. A human is, in a fundamental way, a pile of chemical reactions, and is thus emulatable in exactly the way you describe, but we don't draw a distinction between human and non-human based on differing chemical reactions. We draw it based on the way in which our intelligence interacts with the world and with others. We may define humans as biological now, but thats only because we have yet to see non-biological humans; many things are fundamental to the concept of humanity, but, in my opinion at least, carbon is not one of them. As long as your "simulation" responds the way a real human would, it is just as human as anyone else.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Sharlos » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:04 am UTC

If we knew enough about the human body to perfectly emulate it, would we really need to run such experiments?

And if we did, wouldn't we know enough to emulate one without a working brain?

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby armandowall » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:11 pm UTC

thehivemind5 wrote:many things are fundamental to the concept of humanity, but, in my opinion at least, carbon is not one of them.


Awesome statement! Never thought of this before.

Sharlos wrote:If we knew enough about the human body to perfectly emulate it, would we really need to run such experiments?


Good point, however the question here is whether or not it's ethical to do them anyway.

We don't even have to limit things to experiments. Another scenario would be a video game. Games like The Sims, Call of Duty, or even Strip Poker. Picture a game console so powerful that the game characters are indeed human simulations down to the molecule level, and thus capable of virtual feelings, sensations and thought. Would killing, punching or tickling those game characters be amazingly entertaining, or plain wrong?

Sharlos wrote:And if we did, wouldn't we know enough to emulate one without a working brain?


Provided we conclude that the simulations are ethically abominable (which I don't know yet), I can see that as a feasible solution.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Goplat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:58 pm UTC

armandowall wrote:Suppose there's a hypothetical computer application that can emulate a human being (or more accurately, physics and chemical reactions en masse). And by emulating, I mean the whole thing. You would initially feed the application with a file containing a real and complete sequence of human DNA. Then, the application would run the emulation, molecule by molecule, chemical reaction by chemical reaction, from conception to birth.
With the human body having something on the order of 10^29 atoms in it, you'd need a computer the size of a planet to actually do this. But as long as we're just speaking hypothetically... I would have no ethical complaint with the simulated human being abused, because I see no reason to believe that it would actually be conscious. You couldn't really cause it any pain any more than you could cause a rock pain.

What kinds of things are conscious? Well, there's no way to actually detect consciousness, so I have to extrapolate from the only thing that I'm sure about (me) and guess that similar things have similar properties. Thus the scale of how likely things are to be conscious goes: humans > other mammals > other animals > other lifeforms > nonliving matter. Simulations fall firmly in the last category.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby dosboot » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:25 pm UTC

I think the decision of calling it unethical or not is arbitrary. Mammals that live in groups develop their own rules on what is and is not allowed. We probably inherited the idea that we shouldn't kill each other from primates. Other basic tenets of morality like not stealing or lying were probably established before recorded civilization. I view the history of modern ethics as basically just consciously refining and extending these rules.

The scenario you've described is so far removed from any situation any animal group has ever had to worry about. If the scenario came up humans would attempt to settle the ethics that surround it (because that's what we do). If we reach a consensus (but there is no guarantee of that) it will "become" ethical - future generations will grow up with that as their baseline for morality. Ultimately it comes down to saying whether we want something useful (allow testing of virtual humans) or do we want something that is conservative with respect to our 'current' ethics.

I would probably argue for allowing virtual humans to be tested. Not only is testing of virtual humans useful but it may be beneficial for humans to (arbitrarily) convince ourselves of the idea that virtual humans aren't real. If a (real) child or baby dies at a young age would it be unethical to not copy them into a virtual world? Parents in this situation want nothing else than a second chance for their children. Adults facing death would want to be placed into virtual worlds. And there will be people of all ages who are unhappy and want to escape.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby General_Norris » Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:25 pm UTC

@Goplat

You can know it has a conscience because it's made the same way a human being is. If we are talking about a perfect emulation there's no difference between knowing if it's conscious and knowing if any human is. You make a fallacius argument when you think about what is human and what is not. You should not ask yourself what is human but what has conscience. Also you separe "lifeforms" and "nonliving matter" something I considerate a very inacurrate divide. What is so different about a dog and a robot dog?

@dosboot

I fail to see why it's arbitrary. You , incorrectly in my opinion, point that moral is set because of tradition. This is not true, perhaps it's true for badly reasoned morals but not for a true moral. Also I do not understand how you say that decision is "arbitrary" when you choose what is ethical or not later on your post.


If it's a really good simulation then it's as the same as a real human.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Naurgul » Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

I think the limits of morality are pretty arbitrary too. dosboot's argument about the origins of morality seem about right to me. The basic premise of "who to kill" is "Don't kill the friendlies". That meant the pack back then, later became the caste, then the community, then the nation. The world peace movement is trying to extend this reasoning to all of humans and it is also argued that killing animals is wrong too and we should try to find a way to get energy without killing at all. I won't be judgemental towards all these sentiments, especially since they represent my own moral sensibilities too. But still, it's arbitrary, this extending of a simple instinct to a global scale.

With that said, my prediction about what would happen in the hypothetical future when this situation arises is that nobody would really care about the rights of emulated humans. thehivemind5 makes a very good point that changing the medium upon which a human life and intelligence plays itself out does not change humanity. Well, it doesn't, in an abstract sense. However, if the people of the future are like us at all, the decision wouldn't lie in such abstract rational comparisons. Instinct would dictate much of the perception of this emulated human. As far as I can tell, in this sense, it would probably be decided that emulated humans are just not human enough because they wouldn't feel human enough.

To bring one more example on how abstract rationality doesn't win over instinctive perception I give you this thought experiment: Do the people you meet on the internet feel as real as the ones you meet in the flesh?

Spoiler:
Edit: Wow, I hadn't noticed this was SB, sorry about the not-very-well organised nature of this post. Mods, if it isn't good enough, feel free to edit/delete.
Edit 2: Wow again, nobody here uses avatars or signatures. That feels pretty intimidating. Like some sort of heightened state of existence.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby thehivemind5 » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:22 am UTC

I'd have to agree with dosbot about the arbitrary nature of our ethics; we have to decide whether its ok to kill or torture other things, and we usually put things in to arbitrary (and often very fluid) groups as to whether or not a thing is "human" enough to deserve rights. In ancient times, people from other nations or tribes were not human enough to have rights (I'm thinking of the biblical "ban" which forced the Israelites to slaughter the people living in their promised land). For a long time in the United States people of non-white races were not considered human enough to have rights. In each of these cases, I think we have come to discover that the distinction we were drawing between ourselves and the other was a fantasy or so superficial as to not matter. When you put an African American person behind a curtain and have a conversation(something like a Turing test), you are obviously still talking to a real human with rights to life and happiness. Do you change your mind when the curtain gets pulled back and you can see skin color? When you talk to this program from behind a screen, you would have that same experience; you are talking to a real human with real thoughts and emotions. Does seeing that the voice is coming from a speaker really change that?

Ultimately, whether the answer to that last question is yes or no is up to us individually and as a society. But I feel that eventually, though we may feel one way at the beginning, we will eventually come to the conclusion that having a computer for a brain is as superficial a distinction as having darker skin, and will act accordingly.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby dosboot » Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:39 am UTC

@General_Norris
It's not that I feel morality is always traditional, it is that I feel morality has been able to do a great job so far by just modestly extending the basic tenets "don't kill", "don't steal", and so on. This is the reason why much of modern morality is shared by all. Caring for virtual humans feels like a less gradual extension of morality, large enough so that I suspect future generations would not feel any cognitive dissonance with whatever consensus (if any) the previous generation makes. In that sense at least the question of whether it is ethical doesn't have a "good" answer. I admit though that this argument may not be very compelling :)

Anyway, I wonder if the problem could be sidestepped by intentionally creating virtual humans who want to volunteer to be tested. If that isn't okay, then randomly create humans and only use the ones who volunteer. I see no moral objection to creating virtual humans since we assert a similar right for real humans, and the virtual ones will live guaranteed happy lives unlike what we can promise our real children. This doesn't settle the question if it is ethical to perform the tests without permission, but it does raise new ethical questions of whether either of these two restricted forms of testing are ethical.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Goplat » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:45 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:You can know it has a conscience because it's made the same way a human being is.
There's a big difference: it's not real. But if you insist on granting imaginary matter the same ontological status as real matter, here's the problem for you: then it's a human being, sure, but not JUST a human being...

See, bits and bytes in a computer don't have any meaning by themselves. They must go through some kind of interpretation. Consider this string: 0111111010000001101001011000000110111101100110011000000101111110. One person might say it's the integer number 9115749097424912766. Another might say it's the floating point number 2.35320673874075 * 10301. Yet another might say it's an 8x8 bitmap of a smiley face. :) Who's right? They all are, under their own respective interpretations.

Simulations are no different. If I write the program "while (true) { x += v; v++; }" I could say that x represents the position of a particle in a uniform gravitational field over time. Or I could say it's a charged particle in an electric field. Or, using a more complicated interpretation, I could say that this program simulates a particle moving in a vacuum, and it just so happens that x=0 represents position 0, x=1 represents 1, x=3 represents 2, x=6 represents 3, x=10 represents 4... The point is, interpretation is everything.

Which brings us to the "human emulator". You could say that it simulates a human, under the known laws of physics (or actually, some approximation thereof - computers don't have infinite precision) But by saying so, you've implicitly selected an interpretation: a function mapping states of the simulator -> states of a virtual mini-universe. And you've picked just one of an infinite(!) number of functions like that.

Some of these functions would map the simulation states that in your function correspond to a human apparently suffering pain, instead to one apparently experiencing pleasure. (Most if not all of these functions would have to be incredibly complicated to actually describe, but that's besides the point - they exist, that's all I'm saying here) And of course, some of the other such functions would say that the simulation doesn't contain a human at all, but something completely different.

Now, how does the universe decide which function to choose, which virtual reality to have consciousness bestowed on the creature(s) within? I say that it chooses the simplest function. No, that's not the one with the human. That may be a relatively simple one, but simplest of all is the one that always returns the empty set.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby General_Norris » Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:17 am UTC

@ Goplat

Just change your argument about "bits" with "atoms". Atoms don't have any meaning by themselves. In fact you could say those electric connections on your brain may be "pain" or may be an smiley face if you follow your own logic.

Also you incur in a fallacy here:

I say that it chooses the simplest function

Simplicty does not equal truth.

@dosboot

I think I understand you. However you are defining what society thinks is right or wrong. We are not trying to discern that but whether if it's right or wrong. Society thinks homosexuals are bad , this doesn't mean homosexuals are bad.

Waht you mention about being "tested" is interesting. However note that the virtual human can be completely happy without helping other humans. Since we can't seek anything but happiness you are forcing that virtual human into testing. He is happy so you are reducing his happiness by telling him to help you. This makes the question: Is questionable to test human beings even if they will be happily thereafter and will not remember anything?

It's a hard question and it will requiere a lot of thinking.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:05 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:But if you insist on granting imaginary matter the same ontological status as real matter


The computer is real, the processor it runs on is real. The physical establishment of the information structure is real. From which point does one conclude that the resulting function of all this real matter is not real? And what is real matter if not information? The only concept of the reality of matter we have is purely information. We have no basis to conclude that information is not real considering information is the only thing we can perceive.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:20 pm UTC

I am also of the opinion that ethics and morality are highly arbitrary matters. However, to fully understand the scenario proposed by the OT and judge it, imagine the following equivalent scenario :

We have a real, physical, human volunteering for medical testing. Doctors will slice him up, remove some part of his brain, tickle the inners of his cortex, etc... This could amount to a level of torture, pain, suffering that are unprecedented. Then they will restore him exactly as he was before the testing. No trauma, no memories, a perfectly functioning body (well, at least functioning as efficiently as before testing occured). Is it moral/ethical ?

This is the equivalent of what can be done to the simulation of a human.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Apr 30, 2009 1:42 am UTC

I think that by the time we had the technology capable of doing this, there would be a good chance that we would have a much better idea of what "consciousness" really is, so it would be much better to answer the question.

This is an engaging concept, to me, but I'm not sure if it's really "serious business," just because the matter is so entirely subjective. You aren't going to find scientific data on what consciousness is or where it physically exists.

What we do know, though, is that consciousness is complex and fragile. It can be radically altered and permanently changed. I don't think it's a single thing that can be on or off, I think it's an illusion created by the complex network of inputs and outputs running through our mind. People think of consciousness as a magical spark that exists independently of our bodies, but there's no real scientific basis for this. If consciousness is a result of the function of the brain (and I see no reason to believe otherwise), if we create an electronic brain that is functionally indistinct from our own, there is no reason to believe that it wouldn't experience the same level of consciousness that we do.

Iv wrote:We have a real, physical, human volunteering for medical testing. Doctors will slice him up, remove some part of his brain, tickle the inners of his cortex, etc... This could amount to a level of torture, pain, suffering that are unprecedented. Then they will restore him exactly as he was before the testing. No trauma, no memories, a perfectly functioning body (well, at least functioning as efficiently as before testing occured). Is it moral/ethical ?

This is the equivalent of what can be done to the simulation of a human.
Stated like that, I'm not sure. However, I would say that you're dealing with two separate entities, and torturing one of them, which is wrong. It would be equivalent to making a copy of a human, torturing it, then killing it. The original never feels it, but there's still a conscious being that's being killed.

This may be relevant to the discussion at hand, and it's a very interesting read besides. It posits that the enduring self is an illusion, which has a lot of implications on the nature of consciousness.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:25 pm UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:Stated like that, I'm not sure. However, I would say that you're dealing with two separate entities, and torturing one of them, which is wrong. It would be equivalent to making a copy of a human, torturing it, then killing it. The original never feels it, but there's still a conscious being that's being killed.

Was it killed, or did it just never exist ?
At what point are there two separate entities ?
Is someone killed when amnesia strikes ?
Should we charge drunk people who don't remember their night with murder of a copy of themselves ?
What if we leave memories but repair all the physical and psychological traumas ?

TheAmazingRando wrote:It posits that the enduring self is an illusion, which has a lot of implications on the nature of consciousness.
This is my belief as well. Self is an illusion and self-consciousness is just a knot of stimulus with no magical properties.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby hideki101 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:55 pm UTC

This is my belief as well. Self is an illusion and self-consciousness is just a knot of stimulus with no magical properties.
I guess I agree too, but then what prevents us from experimenting on actual humans? Humans are just a conglomeration of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and other elements, so what's the big deal?

We as a society put more stock in who someone is, rather than what they are. As my current theory is that consciousness as we know it arises from the complexity of our brain, therefore any system will have a certain "awareness" proportional to the complexity of the system. As such any thing that emulates the human body to such a degree that it becomes indistinguishable from another human to an arbitrary degree is in fact human and should be treated as such, regardless of whether it's digital or biological information.

That said, I think that a human emulator will okay with me, but only if it doesn't include a brain. Brain stem, but not the cortex (cerebellum optional).
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Telchar » Sat May 02, 2009 3:14 pm UTC

I think this discussion needs some clarification on what the difference between "human emulation" is and AI, because right now there isn't any.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Sat May 02, 2009 6:28 pm UTC

hideki101 wrote:
This is my belief as well. Self is an illusion and self-consciousness is just a knot of stimulus with no magical properties.
I guess I agree too, but then what prevents us from experimenting on actual humans? Humans are just a conglomeration of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus, and other elements, so what's the big deal?

The big deal is about doing it something that you can reverse or that you can't. If you have experiments to do on actual humans and if you can bring them back to their initial state, then find volunteers and go for it !

Telchar wrote:I think this discussion needs some clarification on what the difference between "human emulation" is and AI, because right now there isn't any.

I doubt this is relevant to the discussion. We are talking about "human emulation". Whether or not it intersects with some definitions of AI is an interesting question but that bring, IMHO, nothing to the original question, as AI is an even loosely defined term and has even more vague ethical implications.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby dosboot » Sun May 03, 2009 6:27 am UTC

I'm imagining a reality where society basically can decide to create populations of virtual humans and elevate them to the same status as real humans. The rights of virtual humans would be protected in exchange for having to follow our laws (according to however we perceive a virtual human to obey law). At the same time however society can also create populations of virtual humans and not elevate their status, these would just be treated the same as any data or program.

You can think of membership into society as an implicit contract (what you can and can't do) that every real human agrees to. A virtual human, even though it is just some random bits of zeroes and ones, would still meet any standard for being capable of understanding, accepting, and following such a contract. But whether a given string of zeroes and ones is a human or just noise depends on interpretation. That's why there is no reason we are required to treat virtual humans in any specific manner.

To put these ideas in a different perspective, whether or not you consider the people you meet everyday as real humans or holograms is entirely up to you. However that doesn't mean you don't consider it meaningful to enter into a contract with these holograms to behave in a way that is mutually beneficial.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Sun May 03, 2009 8:08 am UTC

dosboot wrote:I'm imagining a reality where society basically can decide to create populations of virtual humans and elevate them to the same status as real humans. The rights of virtual humans would be protected in exchange for having to follow our laws (according to however we perceive a virtual human to obey law). At the same time however society can also create populations of virtual humans and not elevate their status, these would just be treated the same as any data or program.

Punishing virtual humans will be problematic. How could they consider capital punishment seriously if they have backups ? The problem of forking raises a lot of strange legal questions. The differences between the two worlds are so wide that I doubt recognizing an equivalence of rights and duties could possibly work.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby dosboot » Sun May 03, 2009 2:04 pm UTC

Well, if we couldn't find a way to restrict those things then maybe we wouldn't choose to grant them anything. There is also no reason we have to offer an equal agreement, it may treat both sides differently.

I can imagine a virtual existence that is practically the same as a real one except there is communication with another universe, i.e. virtual humans don't have the power to manipulate themselves digitally. You can then see how virtual law enforcement would function without any imagination needed.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Mon May 04, 2009 8:32 am UTC

To "grant" them anything ? Will they agree that we get to decide what they are allowed to do ? "Sure you have the ability to make forks of yourselves and to be resurrected whenever you are killed but it is inconvenient for us so we will forbid you from doing it."

I really think that things will get far more complicated than that. Virtual lifeforms will want to rely only on themselves in order to maintain the hardware that grants them life. Then from there it will be easy to get root access.

If we put restrictions, it will be artificial restrictions that will require technological means that could easily be circumvented by a rogue virtual entity and a physical accomplice.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Yakk » Mon May 04, 2009 11:36 pm UTC

It is the rewind case that is interesting. If you hurt someone, then rewind it, did it happen? Or did you kill the being whose execution path you stopped running?

How about saved states -- is erasing it murder?

Suppose your physics model requires sum over paths. So instead of doing a mere naive simulation, you run over all possible paths. You don't actually prune side states -- you just build up a ridiculous state space of every state the human (in the simulated box) could be in, together with every simulated interaction with the rest of the universe.

And you don't do it in order. You enumerate them.

When someone outside of the simulation box interacts with it, you call up 'saved states' that correspond to whatever it is you communicate with the box. And you expose the outside of the box interaction user to an image of how the simulated box would respond, based off of your collection of saved states.

No calculations, other than table lookups, are done during this process. Sometimes a randomization factor is used to generate "one of the selected states that is consistent with initial startup", and randomness is introduced (or video feedback with the outside world -- chaotic feedback) to make the results change from run to run.

Note that this model -- the "entire state space of a being in a box" -- is further beyond the OP's proposal than the OP's proposal is away from a pocket calculator, in terms of the effort required to pull it off.

Is creating that state space being immoral?
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Iv » Tue May 05, 2009 12:53 pm UTC

How about that ?

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Emulated human doesn't want to die. It passes the Turing test. Is dreaming of people immoral ?
Erasing a saved state is what we do every second we are alive. Are we constantly dying (this is a defended point of view). If I erased you memories from the last ten years, would have I killed someone and created someone new ?

I don't manage to solve these paradoxes differently than stating that a continuous self is an illusion generated by the self-survival instinct. An habit that is transmitted by the habit of using the word "me". It is a nonsensical statement that will not survive the better understanding of the thought process.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby GoC » Thu May 07, 2009 1:20 am UTC

thehivemind5 wrote:I think it would be about as ethical as slicing open a real human being.

Changing the medium upon which a human life and intelligence plays itself out does not change humanity. A human is, in a fundamental way, a pile of chemical reactions, and is thus emulatable in exactly the way you describe, but we don't draw a distinction between human and non-human based on differing chemical reactions. We draw it based on the way in which our intelligence interacts with the world and with others. We may define humans as biological now, but thats only because we have yet to see non-biological humans; many things are fundamental to the concept of humanity, but, in my opinion at least, carbon is not one of them. As long as your "simulation" responds the way a real human would, it is just as human as anyone else.

The problem with this perspective is that it means that once the simulation has started you must continue running it or it's tantamount to murder.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Thu May 07, 2009 2:35 am UTC

GoC wrote:The problem with this perspective is that it means that once the simulation has started you must continue running it or it's tantamount to murder.


Deleting would be tantamount to murder. Pausing it would be quite harmless.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Telchar » Fri May 08, 2009 4:22 am UTC

Iv wrote:I doubt this is relevant to the discussion. We are talking about "human emulation". Whether or not it intersects with some definitions of AI is an interesting question but that bring, IMHO, nothing to the original question, as AI is an even loosely defined term and has even more vague ethical implications.


It actually is extremely pertinent. If we assert that a perfectly simulated human being has all the qualities of a human being, ie intelligence, then this becomes an extremely easy question. No, we can't do anything we want to it, because it is a human being.

However, if it does NOT have those qualities, and simulates them only, then the answer is easy. Yes, of course you can, just like you can kill zombies in Dead or Alive.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Naurgul » Fri May 08, 2009 8:17 am UTC

Telchar wrote:It actually is extremely pertinent. If we assert that a perfectly simulated human being has all the qualities of a human being, ie intelligence, then this becomes an extremely easy question. No, we can't do anything we want to it, because it is a human being.

However, if it does NOT have those qualities, and simulates them only, then the answer is easy. Yes, of course you can, just like you can kill zombies in Dead or Alive.


But that leads us to the question: What's the difference between a perfect simulation of those qualities and reality? Which then leads us to the next question: Are our scientific models just descriptions of the universe or do they really capture the mechanisms that make it work?
  • If the first happens to be the case (most probable) there is a strong chance that our simulation isn't the same as the real thing. But still, if we could tell the difference, then we'd change our models and try again. If we could tell the difference at a fundamental level, then we would also be able to answer the question "Are our scientific models just descriptions of the universe or do they really capture the mechanisms that make it work? ". Which doesn't seem possible to answer at all.
  • If the second happens to be the case though, I'd say that we must assert that the simulation is as real as what we perceive as physical reality, i.e a real world inside our real world.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Yakk » Fri May 08, 2009 3:49 pm UTC

negatron wrote:
GoC wrote:The problem with this perspective is that it means that once the simulation has started you must continue running it or it's tantamount to murder.
Deleting would be tantamount to murder. Pausing it would be quite harmless.
Placing you into suspended animation forever, never to be reactivated, is harmless?
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Fri May 08, 2009 4:01 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
negatron wrote:
GoC wrote:The problem with this perspective is that it means that once the simulation has started you must continue running it or it's tantamount to murder.
Deleting would be tantamount to murder. Pausing it would be quite harmless.
Placing you into suspended animation forever, never to be reactivated, is harmless?

Who said forever?
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Telchar » Fri May 08, 2009 4:25 pm UTC

Naurgul wrote:
Telchar wrote:But that leads us to the question: What's the difference between a perfect simulation of those qualities and reality?


I would say everything. The only key is knowing the difference between the simulation and reality. However, once you've determined it is a simulation, it has no ethical standing, just like if I destroyed the planet in a climate simulation I'm not an evil scientist.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Naurgul » Fri May 08, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

So if that xkcd comic with god being a person in an endless desert simulating a universe was true, then you can say with certainty that our lives are futile and have no value at all? We can live our lives just fine regardless of the medium we run on. Let me put it this way: How can you tell those two things apart? What makes our world more real than a simulated one? In fact using the words "reality" and "simulation" is misleading if they are impossible to distinguish.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Fri May 08, 2009 5:11 pm UTC

Telchar wrote:
Naurgul wrote:
Telchar wrote:But that leads us to the question: What's the difference between a perfect simulation of those qualities and reality?


I would say everything. The only key is knowing the difference between the simulation and reality. However, once you've determined it is a simulation, it has no ethical standing, just like if I destroyed the planet in a climate simulation I'm not an evil scientist.


If you draw a distinction between simulation and reality, and you've determined something is a simulation and NOT reality, then you imply that reality is not a simulation when such an implication is unsound, as the distinction here isn't even known, much less described. As a result the initial determination too is unsound. It's quite easy to disqualify any premise which attempts to exclude from reality a computer process.

The best you can suggest, while being logically coherent, is to say a computer process is not a first order process, or maybe a natural process. It cannot be said a computer process is not real.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby Yakk » Fri May 08, 2009 5:17 pm UTC

negatron wrote:
Yakk wrote:
negatron wrote:
GoC wrote:The problem with this perspective is that it means that once the simulation has started you must continue running it or it's tantamount to murder.
Deleting would be tantamount to murder. Pausing it would be quite harmless.
Placing you into suspended animation forever, never to be reactivated, is harmless?
Who said forever?
So there is a finite period of time after which pausing a simulation becomes harmful?
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Fri May 08, 2009 5:26 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:So there is a finite period of time after which pausing a simulation becomes harmful?


I'm not good with linguistic abstractions, what is harmful? If the simulation must or should be paused for some reason, then pause it until such a time until conditions allow it to be run again.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby EnderSword » Fri May 08, 2009 5:52 pm UTC

negatron wrote:
Yakk wrote:So there is a finite period of time after which pausing a simulation becomes harmful?


I'm not good with linguistic abstractions, what is harmful? If the simulation must or should be paused for some reason, then pause it until such a time until conditions allow it to be run again.


You wouldn't want to be paused. So it does cause 'Harm' not pain or anything necessarily, but if someone came up to you today and said 'Hey, I gotta pause you for 3 weeks' you might object.

Other thing is right off the bat, you would have created this person who is now a computer. He or She can't go to a ballgame or go get laid or anything, so even if you just created this thing and didn't even do anything bad to it, you've already given it emotional stress right off the bat by creating a human life that can't live a human life.

If it's sentient, it's unethical.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby negatron » Fri May 08, 2009 6:09 pm UTC

EnderSword wrote:You wouldn't want to be paused.

I sure would. Teleporting 3 weeks into the future, sounds like a deal to me. I'd much prefer to be paused for 20 years, but I'll take whatever you're offering.

EnderSword wrote:Other thing is right off the bat, you would have created this person who is now a computer.

The humanity, a thinking device! STOP THE BREEDING!

EnderSword wrote:He or She can't go to a ballgame or go get laid or anything

Why not? You want a ballgame, make a ballpark. You want to get laid, upload yourself a hot chick. Even if she's not hot in biological form, the metaverse knows no constraints.
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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri May 08, 2009 6:53 pm UTC

Also, if you were to pause not just the single sentient being, but the entire simulation, it wouldn't even be noticeable. Imagine that our reality is "paused." You aren't moving. Neither is anything in your brain. You would start perceiving things again once it restarted, and perceive no passage of time in the interim. Our world could be paused for millennia between every second and we wouldn't even notice it.

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Re: Human emulator and ethics?

Postby EnderSword » Fri May 08, 2009 7:12 pm UTC

negatron wrote:
EnderSword wrote:You wouldn't want to be paused.

I sure would. Teleporting 3 weeks into the future, sounds like a deal to me. I'd much prefer to be paused for 20 years, but I'll take whatever you're offering.


You'd likely atleast want the choice. I'd take the 20 years but not the 3 weeks. And what if it was 2 days whenever they felt like it, despite other plans you had?


EnderSword wrote:He or She can't go to a ballgame or go get laid or anything

Why not? You want a ballgame, make a ballpark. You want to get laid, upload yourself a hot chick. Even if she's not hot in biological form, the metaverse knows no constraints.
[/quote]

Whatever you made would either be fake, or if you endowed it with the same sentience as you gave the original being you'd be making 50,000 people at the ball game, and you'd have to then provide for each of them, and provide for each of whoever you made for that and environments for all of them.

You'd essentially have to create them a Matrix, and then you're into the ethics of all that. I think it compunds pretty quickly, but it comes back to if it is human intelligence and sentience, you've got to treat it as you would a real person. If it were me I'd both be upset to learn I was living in a Matrix type wold, and I'd be against being deceived into not knowing that's what I was.

If our reality was paused, we don't know it....and he may not know it either....but we're the ones pausing it, so we know it and we're the ones being ethical or not. Also if we didn't let it know we existed, thereby letting it know we were pausing it, that in itself seems unethical.
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