The logic of 'Age of Em'
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IDClaim
Field based on
TypeTense
Hanson’s Confidence
Dependencies
CitationsOccurrencesChapterSection
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Your descendants may differ from you in ways that challenge your progress ideals
HistoryEmpiricalPredictionHighIntroduction0
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New habits and attitudes result less from moral progress, and more from people adapting to new situations.
Cultural historyEmpirical-Introduction0
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3There have been three human eras: foragers, farmers, and industry.HistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
1. StartI. Basics
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The next era is likely to arise from brain emulations, sometime in the next century
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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5Most ems are much faster than humans
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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6Humans live comfortably on the margins of the em society.
Economics of law
EmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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7Ems are crowded into a few dense hot cities.EngineeringEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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8Ems mostly live and work in virtual realityEconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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9Ems have near subsistence wages.EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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10Ems work most of the time.EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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11Ems reproduce via exact copies.EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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12Usually whole teams are copied together.EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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Most ems are temporary copies that will be deleted after finishing a short task
EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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14Productivity of humans peaks at 50 or more years.EconomicsEmpirical-1. StartI. Basics
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15Most ems are near a subjective age of 50 or more years.EconomicsEmpiricalPrediction1. StartI. Basics
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16Past changes suggest future changes.HistoryEmpirical-2. ModesI. Basics
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17Each era has had bigger groupsHistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
2. ModesI. Basics
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18Each era has had faster growthHistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
2. ModesI. Basics
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19Each era has had a similar total number of humans living in its span.HistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
2. ModesI. Basics
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So compared with our industry era, the next era will have groups of size trillion
HistoryEmpiricalPrediction2. ModesI. Basics
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21Economic doubling times of less than a monthHistoryEmpiricalPrediction2. ModesI. Basics
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22Total duration of a year or two.HistoryEmpiricalPrediction2. ModesI. Basics
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23Strong cultural pressures were needed to turn foragers into farmers.HistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
2. ModesI. Basics
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24We feel such pressures less as we get rich today.HistoryEmpiricalContemporary2. ModesI. Basics
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So industrial culture includes many farmer to forager trends, and non-adaptive behavior
HistoryEmpiricalContemporary2. ModesI. Basics
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Eventually, future individuals must return to being adaptive and poor, and so move back toward farmer culture
HistoryEmpiricalPrediction2. ModesI. Basics
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27The em era moves in these directions.-EmpiricalPrediction2. ModesI. Basics
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28The future matters more than the past.PhilosophyNormative-3. FramingI. Basics
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Past forecasters have shown that we can at least dimly foresee the social implications of disruptive new technologies.
HistoryEmpirical
Historical summary
3. FramingI. Basics
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30Brain emulations are cheap to make.
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPredictionAssumption3. FramingI. Basics
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A scenario is useful if it’s self-consistent, using likely parameter values or offering a baseline.
ModellingMethodological-Assumption3. FramingI. Basics
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Economic forces are causally powerful enough to determine large parts of the future.
EconomicsMethodological-3. FramingI. Basics
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33Present economic theory is accurate enough to allow predictions.EconomicsEmpiricalPredictionAssumption4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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Ems have the same mental habits and styles of the emulated human brain.
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPrediction4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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35Brains can be emulated
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPredictionAssumption4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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36Ems can be copied
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPredictionAssumption4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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37Ems can be run at different speeds
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPredictionAssumption4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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38Complex brains remain poorly understood,NeuroscienceEmpiricalPrediction4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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39So ems cannot be usefully reorganized, beyond a limited set of tweaks.
Computational neuroscience
EmpiricalPrediction384. AssumptionsI. Basics
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40Our rate of progress in non-em AI will follow past trends.AIEmpiricalPrediction4. AssumptionsI. Basics
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So when ems arrive that field will be less than halfway to human level abilities, allowing a substantial era
EmpiricalPrediction404. AssumptionsI. Basics
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By placing matching brain areas into matching activation states, ems could read the surface of each others’ minds
EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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Emulation hardware is probably digital, fault-tolerant, very parallel, and specialized to the emulation task
EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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44The hardware cost to run an em is roughly proportional to speed.EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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45Ems could change speeds by changing hardwareEmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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46Some ems allow anyone to copy and run them.EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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47Most ems fear mind-theft.EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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48Many strategies are available to avoid mind-theft.EmpiricalPrediction
5. Implementation
I. Basics
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The cost to run an em is proportional to speed probably within at least a factor of one million above and below human speed
EmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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50Ems can afford to save archive copies at least every 5 subjective minutesEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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51For a faster em, a physical body is proportionally smallerEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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a kilo-em has a millimeter tall body, to which gravity seems weaker and winds seem stronger
ErgonomicsEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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Ems can meet well in virtual reality when signal delays are less than reaction times
EmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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54kilo-ems need to be within 15 kilometersEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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Ems who use fractal adiabatically reversible hardware use much less energy than do human brains for the same speed
PhysicsEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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56They can temporarily vary their speedEngineeringEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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Ems spend about as much renting their hardware as on energy and cooling to run it
EngineeringEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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Interacting reversible ems coordinate to reverse their interaction messages later within a reversing period.
EngineeringEmpiricalPrediction6. ScalesII. Physics
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Like computer rooms today, em cities control temperature, dust, humidity, vibration, etc
EngineeringEmpiricalPrediction
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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60Hardware closer to city centers is denser, and when higher it is lighterEngineeringEmpiricalPrediction
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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61City centers are taller, and hold more recently designed hardwareEngineeringEmpiricalPrediction
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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62Fractal cooling pipe systems occupy roughly half of city volumeEngineeringEmpiricalPrediction
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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63Ems live in huge dense cities of population around 1 trillionEngineeringEmpiricalPrediction62
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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Pipes may push in ice slurries and pull out near boiling water, in which case em hardware is also that hot
EngineeringEmpirical
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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Buildings are made fast from modular units, don’t last as long as our buildings do, connect into a lattice to jointly resist winds, and are less resistant to earthquakes
Empirical
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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Adiabatic reversible manufacturing spends roughly the same on renting factories as on energy and cooling to run them.
Empirical
7. Infrastructure
II. Physics
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Ems spend leisure time in virtual realities of spectacular comfort, beauty, and artistry, and which prevent direct violence
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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Most ems also work in virtual offices, where environments need to not be overly distracting
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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Em virtual realities have many elements that would be recognizable and familiar to us
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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In contrast, em physical objects look more harsh and functional when viewed directly
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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Em virtual and physical spaces may be integrated into a common spatial representation, to help ems reason about brain locations
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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An em whose virtual body travels too far from its brain must accept delayed reactions to local events
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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It is usually prohibitively expensive to have active intelligent non-player characters in em virtual realities.
Empirical8. AppearancesII. Physics
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Ems see not just real and virtual worlds, but also ways to manage their brain’s speed, connections, security, and location
Empirical9. InformationII. Physics
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Some ems, such as spurs and retirees, are not visible in default views of spaces, but are visible on request
Empirical9. InformationII. Physics
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Ems can usually verify the identity of interaction partners and ems want reliable records of their copy history
Empirical9. InformationII. Physics
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77ems save audio-visual recordings of their livesEmpirical9. InformationII. Physics
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Ems agree to sometimes be placed into sims which they cannot at the time distinguish from reality
Empirical9. InformationII. Physics
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79Each sim usually serves several functions at onceEmpirical9. InformationII. Physics
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Ems in unusual situations suspect that they are in a sim, which makes ems especially loyal and reliable in such situations.
Empirical9. InformationII. Physics
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When blank em hardware is available, an existing em is easily copied into that hardware, resulting in a new em with exactly the same memories and mental habits, but with new diverging experiences from that point forward
Empirical10. ExistenceII. Physics
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82Ems who can veto copies feel stronger ownership of their existenceEmpirical10. ExistenceII. Physics
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Ems are usually created to fill jobs that create a value of a few times the em hardware cost
Empirical10. ExistenceII. Physics
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Strong global coordination to regulate copying could prevent this, but needs strong surveillance, which is hard to manage
Empirical10. ExistenceII. Physics
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Em slavery is possible, but low em wages remove most profits from slave ownership.
Empirical10. ExistenceII. Physics
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Brains, like other complex adaptive systems, become inflexible with experience adapting to particular environments
Empirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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So within a subjective few centuries, ems become no longer competitive with younger ems and so must retire
Empirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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Slow retirement is very cheap, but as with the naturally-slow humans, a slow retiree’s expected lifespan is limited by em civilization instabilities
Empirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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89Em retirees are like ghosts in many waysEmpirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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Ems see making a copy who ends after doing a short task not as “death,” but as a part of them they choose not to remember
Empirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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91Ems usually have a right to suicide.Empirical11. FarewellsII. Physics
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By the time 1000 humans have been scanned to make ems that compete for jobs, and 1000 useful mind tweaks are available, then almost all wages fall to within roughly a factor of four of the cost to rent em hardware and supporting utilities
Empirical12. laborIII. Economics
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Most humans before the industrial era, and almost all animals ever have had “Malthusian” wages
Empirical
Historical summary
12. laborIII. Economics
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While ems are “poor” in this sense, they need not suffer physical hunger, exhaustion, pain, sickness, grime, or unexpected death
Empirical12. laborIII. Economics
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The fraction of world income that goes to wages increases, and most wage premiums disappear.
Empirical12. laborIII. Economics
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96ems who are paid at all are paid about the sameEmpirical12. laborIII. Economics
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97The first scans are destructive, and of peak-career humans.Empirical12. laborIII. Economics
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98Later scans are of young humans better able to learn.Empirical12. laborIII. Economics
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Most wages go to the 1000 most productive clans, who know each other very well
Empirical13. EfficiencyIII. Economics
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