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The Stationary State

September 27, 2009

This post is a response to this post on Overcoming Bias

Surely a human being (i.e. a creature with roughly the same genetic make-up as your or I) has a maximum utility threshold (Umax), even in virtual reality. So if a human today is experience life at some percentage of Umax (Upresent), the value to them of being the God of Caplan’s machine, is the discounted present value of the difference of Umax – Upresent. If that amount is 10140 times greater than subsistence then Caplan takes it.

But we have the following questions:

  • Can a computer possibly be more powerful than a human brain?
  • How much material would such a computer require?
  • How many atoms do we use now?
  • How much beer do we have to solve this problem?
    • A note to my readers: I just tested to see if I was the God of Caplan’s machine. I was not able to summon a stripper factory and beer volcano. Therefore I am neither God nor the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  • Are we assuming each atom can only be used by one person (i.e. only one person is ever allowed to view the Mona Lisa and only one person is allowed to use the sidewalk outside my apartment)?
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