Age of Em, SEcond Life

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

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


The presentation 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.

Please take a look at the reading list at the end of this post, and prepare interesting questions and comments. See also my book review: “Paradiso and Inferno in Robin Hanson’s ‘The Age of Em.”

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

A book presentation in Second Life is a natural fit for “The Age of Em.” According to Robin, the “ems” (uploaded humans running on suitable computing hardware) that will inherit the Earth will live most of their life as pure software in virtual reality.

“As the cost to compute a spectacular virtual reality can be small relative to the cost of running an em mind to appreciate it, and as a much larger em economy could afford to spend astronomical sums searching for pleasing combinations, we should expect the quality of em virtual realities to be superlative.”

Second Life, primitive as it is compared to future standards, is a good mental model for the virtual reality habitats of future ems. In fact, while reading the book I was remembering Second Life scenes and meetings, and imagining a life as em in a more immersive and spectacular version of Second Life.

Remember that Robin’s future em world is derived from our world with one – and only one – big change: the arrival of operational and cheap mind uploading technology, sometime in this century (see my review). Robin takes our world as it, with all the facts and trends that we can see in technology, society, politics, and economics, and adds mind uploading technology to scan living people and copy them to alternative computing substrates to become ems.

According to Robin, the first ems will retain much of our psychology and preferences. The following passage about em virtual reality habitats is especially interesting and reminds me of past discussions of virtual reality “sociology” and user interface design.

“It’s reasonable to guess that [our social] habits will continue with ems. So I expect em virtual worlds to typically show changes corresponding to day and year cycles, at rates matching the mind speeds of typical em residents. I also expect virtual locations to often look recognizably like offices, bedrooms, bars, parks, plazas, auditoriums, elevators, etc., to evoke the behaviors considered appropriate in such places. I expect the sound and sight of virtual bodies to often give easily recognized clues about age, status, gender, profession, and activity mode, to evoke expectations appropriate to such differences.”

In other words, Second Life on steroids. Perhaps our collective mind designed Second Life to start experimenting with our future habitats. Now we are getting immersive VR interface hardware, Oculus Rift -like displays and hand/body sensors and controllers. It seems likely that, by the end of next decade, high speed brain-to-computer interfaces (BCI) will let us stream our mind to cyberspace and think our way in virtual habitats. And then, in a few short decades, our children will have the option to become ems and live permanently in virtual reality.

Age of Em, SEcond Life

  • spud100

    Downloaded EM a couple of hours ago. Will not get to read it for a while, maybe. Absorbed in labs for Network + tomorrow. Good luck with your Second Life meet up. I look forward to seeing the video on Youtube.