Steve Grand, creator of “creatures”, on consciousness at TEDx.
"How can we make good ethical judgements about things like abortion and animal cruelty if we don’t know what consciousness is".
That’s the topic of a rather heady conversation between Brian Tomasik, a consultant at the Foundational Research Institute, which explores possible avenues for reducing suffering in humans and other sentient beings, and Vox’s Dylan Matthews. It meanders a bit, but one nugget that got me thinking was this:
"In the long run, we may become relatively more concerned about digital sentience, including video-game characters, reinforcement-learning agents, and other computational processes. As computing power increases, both on Earth and perhaps eventually in other parts of the galaxy, humans may run massive numbers of computations at high speed, some of which may embody morally relevant processes. Video-game NPCs are one example of this. In addition, as these NPCs become more life-like, intelligent, and affectively sophisticated, the moral weight of any given individual will increase. It’s possible that video games in 50 years will routinely contain characters as sentient as a minnow or salamander is today."
I think when open-world games are able to compute complex, yet more ambiguous, consequences to killing NPCs, we will begin to see people approach their choices more carefully.
Have you ever felt guilty for killing an NPC?
Brian Tomasik argues that consciousness is a spectrum, and even the simplest processes — like computer opponents in video games — can be conscious. It’s much worse, he says, to kill an animal than a bot, but the bot still matters.
"[A]s these NPCs become more life-like, intelligent, and affectively sophisticated, the moral weight of any given individual will increase. It’s possible that video games in 50 years will routinely contain characters as sentient as a minnow or salamander is today”
Used cupcake mix to make a cake instead of cup cakes. It’s meant to be done now, but it’s still very liquid-y….