The Opt-Out Clause

(cross-posted from my blog)

Let me propose a thought experiment with three conditions.

First, you’re in a simulation, and a really good one at that. Before you went in, the simulators extracted and stored all of your memories, and they went to great lengths to make sure that the simulation is completely faultless.

Second, you can leave any time you like. All you have to do to end the simulation, regain your memories, and return to reality is recite the opt-out passphrase: “I no longer consent to being in a simulation”. Unfortunately, you don’t know about the opt-out condition: that would kind of ruin the immersion.

Third, although you’re never told directly about the opt-out condition, you do get told about indirectly, phrased as a kind of hypothetical thought experiment. Maybe someone poses it to you at a party, maybe you read it on twitter, maybe it’s a blog post on some niche internet forum. You’re guaranteed to hear about it at least once though, to give you a fair chance of leaving. But it’s vague and indirect enough that you can dismiss it if you want, and probably forget about it in a week.

It’s not enough to think the opt-out phrase, you have to actually say it or write it. So the question is, hypothetically, would you?