For many decades I’ve heard people argue about the possibility of ems, i.e., brain emulations (also called “uploads”). Many like to talk about whether ems are possible, when they might happen, and if ems would be conscious, or whether they would “be me.” People also love to read fiction set in worlds where there are ems. Almost twenty years ago I wrote a short
There is no point in anyone modifying their behaviour to account for simulation without knowing the purpose of the simulation. There is no way to know the criteria by which your behaviour may be judged. With this in mind, the dangerous and supremely selfish behaviour advocated in the original article might possibly be why no one really wanted to discuss it.
Besides, I find assuming one is the subject of the simulation rather than one of billions+ of simulated beings on possibly billions+ of simulated worlds rather arrogant.
What specific novels are you thinking of?
"The sorts of people who most like these topics are techies, who mostly don’t believe that social and human sciences exist, and thus aren’t interested in hearing about applications of such sciences."
All printed information is sorted into genres for marketing purposes. Each genre emphasizes one principle component from the space of things interesting to humans. Editors and publishers choose things to publish that excel on that one dimension, at the expense of all other dimensions. A science fiction editor will not publish a story about social implications because readers would be interested in it; he must believe readers would be more interested in it than one about tech or popular philosophy.
Many sociological science fiction novels were published in the 1960s. You could write to some editors & ask why that happened.
Please Robin, its the name, em sucks. Its an interesting and important subject and I have read you faithfully and every time I read a blog or article I hate "em" and think why is it called this? Sex it up have a contest whatever you have to do but find a better name. Your 1994 article is good but those of us with small brains need a hook to engage.
I think a version of (1) applies.
Looking at the converse, people who are very interested in social aspects of topics tend overwhelmingly to be politicians in the broad sense: they are involved in decision-making and relationships/coalitions between people. Such people are likely to be more interested in things that can materially affect their interests than more abstract topics.
Similarly, researchers interested in society are (if they're any good) acutely aware of the possibility of researcher bias and projection in their work, and of the difficulty in producing generalisable findings. It's hard enough to produce descriptive work ('how things are') in the social sciences; predictive work ('how things will be') is extremely hard, and has chequered history, to be polite. Even prima facie trivial question of simply counting how many people there are - arguably the most basic quantification of humanity -turns out to be pretty tricky, and contested politically.
This theory has a testable corollary: if ems become obviously much closer to existing, or if results emerge from work on the simulation hypothesis that have a clear, immediate impact, expect a sudden rush of interest from people who are interested in social aspects, and a huge political storm over your results.
Right, some of your global predictions about EM society are like predicting CO2 levels, others are akin to saying people in Denmark should take an umbrella if they go outside on 24 May 2081, because you are trying to predict very specific cultural attitudes that simply cannot be predicted, so I'd say that's a reason for some people to not believe in your detailed predictions. Of course that doesn't tell us why many people don't want to discuss these things at all (like you I find the subject fascinating, so I'm also disappointed few people want to discuss these things), for that your #2 is probably the better explanation.
On the question of how the creation of ems may affect society, you stand in the middle of a continuum. Most people can only imagine a human society much like ours, with ems in a supporting role, as in *Her* (I haven't actually seen that movie).
Most MIRIans, among others, imagine changes so radical that society will be absolutely nothing like today -- to the point that ordinary extrapolation is useless.
When there are so many unknowns and when expected changes are as radical as you and MIRIans imagine, any small uncertainty will radically throw off any predictions.
Your approach does have the virtue of using standard processes of direct extrapolation.
Or almost any Phillip K Dick story in movie form (The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall, etc.)
So, not able to actually substantiate your claim, you resort to name calling and link a blog post about an obscure fringe one-man theory which doesn't even appear to be related to the simulation hypothesis.
I place more weight on (1) than the other explanations. Having been the lone social science guy among techies in conversations about the implications of some future tech I can attest that this attitude often prevents detailed discussion of social outcomes. Sometimes this is as explicit as "I don't think social science can predict much at all" and sometimes more implicit with the conversation turning then too scenarios from science fiction, which at least everyone is familiar with, as a basis for further discussion. Oddly, the same group often will often find my possible explanations of social outcomes of historical (sometimes in far history) events interesting and highly plausible.
I think there are two main reasons for this attitude. (1) These people, being intimate with the set of knowledge behind the future tech somehow, subconsciously, conflate that with ability to predict the social implications of that tech OR realise that they don't have this ability but neither do social scientists. Afterall they don't even understand the tech. (2) They have the newspaper version of social science, especially economics, and see these people arguing over both predictions and past events constantly, not realising that there is a whole body of knowledge and insight that are agreed upon within that social science and that the disagreements are at the margin.
Idiot. Try reading some science.
I suppose you never heard of the Matrix franchise
I hope this is not the same kind of "evidence" the IDists/creationists rant about...
Have you considered the possibility that your idea didn't receive much attention simply because they weren't very good?
It seems like most things most people write don't receive much attention... I wouldn't update very much based on a particular piece of writing not garnering very much interest.
Yes for #2. It's a lack of seriousness on the possibility really coming true. The solution (perhaps unfortunately) is dramatization. If a Spielberg quality movie like AI were done about ems with technical details right, people beyond very limited hard core enthusiasts would start to believe. After all, ET sightings skyrocketed for decades after 3rd encounters. And even this comments section of enthusiasts has plenty of movie references. Visceral emotional belief most naturally comes from dramatization, not intellectual reasoning. Belief is about tribal belonging through joint emotional bonding as much as logic. Obviously an em movie is beyond your control for the success of your ems book. Though I would be happy to see one!