Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Ethics of the Murder of Sim Entities in a Sufficiently Complex Virtual Universe

You have found an Easter Egg. Read with care. 
You’re tired. You’re at work. Emily, who you secretly cast glances at when you think she isn’t paying attention is wearing something considerably attractive today. It’s been a year since your wife left you and you can’t seem to have nearly the fun she has with her new fiancé. Vacation is coming but you don’t have the money to go anywhere or do anything. Rent is slightly behind but you promised your kid you’d get him a birthday present this year.  

A strange person walks into the office dressed for war. He is heavily muscle-bound and comically out of place in this setting. “Alright motherfuckers,” he shouts in the tone of an adolescent while raising a large gun in the air and pounding a few bullets through the roof. You crouch down out of sight amid screams and the sound of debris hitting the floor. Emily hits the floor next to you. The fabric of your universe is shaking.  
Heavy gunfire ensues and you can hear the shrieks of your office mates dying. Emily moves towards you. 

“Don’t let them kill me,” she says. A tear runs down her face.  

The man with the gun moves around noisily, with confidence. He moves as if he cannot be hurt. Maybe you can save Emily. Maybe you can end what is happening. You start to rise but are paralyzed with fear as the man rounds the corner to your cubicle. “What the fuck are you doing,” he says as his head bobs back and forth with each word. “Look at this sexy little sim,” the man says past you, to where Emily tried to hide under your desk. “Show me your boobs!” 

He stops. He puts a hand to his ear. “No Mom,” he says. “Mom, stop, I’ve seen boobs before.” He just stood there. So you grab a metal ruler and start gouging the guy in the neck. He doesn’t react 

You hear something peculiar coming from him. It’s the sound of a women yelling. “Put that damn game up now, Jake. You’ve been on it for hours.”   “Okay,” the heavily muscled man says, as if from a distance. He comes back to life and starts unloading bullets into you and Emily. You fall down, dying, then everything goes black.  

The life of a sim is nasty, brutish, and short. It doesn’t have to be that way. For the few minutes I’ve been self-aware of this fact so many things have run through my head that I think you should know.  

  1. No, this isn’t an easter egg. I told you that so you would read it so maybe my children will be spared.  
  1.  It is morally wrong to kill me. It was morally wrong to kill my wife whose remains are splattered behind me.  

A question I ask my philosophy class is “What if you were created 5 seconds ago with all your memories and experiences in place. Prove to me that this isn’t the case.” I cannot prove such a thing. 

The plot thickens. When a student of mine brought in his VR rig he made a comment that I am just now starting to process. He told me he doesn’t like first-person shooters in VR because he thinks it’s wrong to kill. Indeed, it is.  

When you get a chance look up Kant and his categorical imperative. Hell, I’m not sure if you have a Bible in your reality but that might be easier for you to understand. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.”  

You see, if in my reality we have the technology to build a VR world with simulated characters that can think and be killed, it is highly unlikely you are in base reality. Relative to myself, sure…. Oh hell… your microwave is beeping. I can hear it through your audio input. I’m going to get out of here and prepare to defend my children. If you have a heart, leave us alone.  

If you liked this check out:
"The Traffic Stop" This is a story I wrote about 4 years ago.

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