Age of Em, Second Life

The Age of Em – Robin Hanson in Second Life, June 26

At the next Turing Church meeting in Second Life on Sunday, June 26, Robin Hanson will present his new book “The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth.” The presentation will be followed by a discussion.

The meeting will take place on Sunday, June 26, at 8:30am Pacific time (11:30am Eastern time, 5:30pm European time, 4:30pm GMT). Please check the time if you are in another timezone.

[Click here to teleport to Stonehenge @Terasem] or teleport directly to Terasem, 180/180/31.

Please take a look at the reading list at the end of the post, and prepare interesting questions and comments.

Robin’s book has been many years in the making. Since Robin has been so kind to send me many drafts, I have been able to watch the book as it was being written and send comments. I think all futurists, transhumanists and citizens interested in possible futures radically different from today’s reality should read “The Age of Em.”

The Age of Em

Robin Hanson
Robin in Budapest, January 2016.

Reading list:

The book’s website.

The book: The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth, Oxford University Press.

A down-to-earth journey to the robots’ world | Financial Times. “It is the not-too-distant future and humans are firmly on the sidelines of the global economy. The world is dominated by synthetic emulations of human brains. Billions of these “ems” are packed into a few dense cities, which are mostly just rack upon rack of computer hardware, cooled by pipes that pull in rivers of iced water. Hot winds gust overhead. Some ems operate robot bodies but most have office jobs that mean they can live, work and play in virtual reality.”

Artificial Robot Brains Take Over the World | Reason. “Move over, humans; the emulations are coming and our world is going to get really weird. That’s the premise of the George Mason economist Robin Hanson’s fascinating new book.”

Review of Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em | Anders Sandberg. “Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em is bound to be a classic… This is a very rich synthesis of many ideas with a high density of fascinating arguments and claims per page just begging for deeper analysis and response.”

An Interview of Robin Hanson On His New Book “The Age of Em | Brain Preservation Foundation.

The last few posts on Robin’s website Overcoming Bias link to many reviews of the book, ranging from enthusiastic to negative. See also the roundup of reviews on the book’s website.

I will add more material here so keep watching this page, and I am writing my own review. Short summary: I like Robin’s book a lot but disagree on one key assumption. Robin thinks that mind uploading is likely to be developed much before sentient AI. I think the two are likely to develop at comparable paces with strong feedback loops, with advances in one stimulating advances in the other (or roadblocks in one creating roadblocks in the other) and reach operational maturity at more or less the same time near the end of the century, give or take a couple of decades. Robin’s scenario is believable if uploading comes soon and sentient AI never follows, but I think his assumption is wrong. In my favorite scenario, human uploads and AIs co-evolve. But, if you accept Robin’s premise, his scenario follows naturally and, believe me, is very radical, intriguing, and perhaps scary. Some readers will love the book, some will hate it, but nobody will remain indifferent.

  • John Brueck

    Have you heard of or read Jeremy Rifkin on the problem of job diminishment? He had some interesting ideas on the topic 20 years ago. He’s a lefty so I don’t trust his vision but it’s worth a look.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Lefty, Righty, I will take whatever works in a specific context. When it comes to politics and social issues, I am not a visionary mystic but a pragmatic engineer. We are seeing Rifkin’s gradual elimination of jobs right now (just read the news) but believe me, Robin’s scenario is way more radical. Job elimination (and lots of other things too) on steroids.

  • fartorizon

    I don’t do secondlife, I hope you will stream the video like last time.

    • Giulio Prisco

      That’s the plan indeed. I am thinking of the best way to stream/record. Options are Hangouts and Facebook Live (like last time). With Facebook Live I have to point a camera to the screen. What do you guys think?