The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment of All Time.
Dare I click? (Duh, of course I did.)
Was it terrifying? (Well, no, it's a cybernetic version of Pascal's Wager, which should occur to most well-read people.)
Here at Strangely Blogged, I try to be pretty cool about spooky thought-experiments. (Right now I'm reading a really chill book by Brad Warner titled There Is No God and He Is Always With You which is helping reambiguate my relationship with That in Which I do Not Believe, Whether it Exists or Not.) But when my reading makes me wonder if there is good cause for a full-on freaking-out, well--I don't. I'm not sure how I missed this discussion at Stross' blog, but I get the basic idea of why this might provoke a crisis of consciousness for the cyber-inclined: living with the idea for so long that an information Omega Point might create an equivalent of the Christian Heaven, long after liberal theology has dispensed with the concept of a literal Hell, getting back to the idea of a material Hell (or material-enough for a simulated You, which you don't have a choice about) created by a potential superintelligence , one might be shocked to think that consequences for Thought Crimes might be inescapable.
The best system of living, whether one is subject to a computer simulation, the whims of a deity outside of time and space, or nothing at all, seems to be to just do your best. You can't know yourself for sure if you're really pissing off some God, or some evil computer, because most people aren't even aware that they piss off customer service reps, retail clerks, their co-workers. Start with friends, family, and your waitstaff, if you want to know how to be "good". Do them right. Work your way out. Be aware.
Deep down, I would find it immoral to be complicit with a God or God-like intelligence that actually acted in malicious ways. YMMV. And deal with any arising consequences--naturally.
(Image via. Which is definitely in good fun.)
UPDATE: We do all recognize we already are acting as if answerable to our new robot overlords, right? I notice that sposo mio prefers a GPS in Italiano even if she doesn't give out street names. Because the dulcet tones of computer lady are in his mother tongue. I will likely follow a helpy-sprite to my doom some day. We made them in our image--didn't we?