Away from Second Life’s 13th birthday celebrations we move into an area that used to be discussed a lot more in the earlier days of Second Life; Transhumanism. Over at The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) Giulio Prisco has a published a post : Paradiso and Inferno in Robin Hanson’s ‘The Age of EM’.
The post discusses a book by Robin Hanson, The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth. The topic has long been considered controversial, but it’s a discussion area that was once very vibrant in Second Life. I am surprised we have not seen more of a resurgence in this area of discussion within the Virtual Reality hype cycle.
The blurb from the book tells us :
Robots may one day rule the world, but what is a robot-ruled Earth like?
Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ems. Scan a human brain, then run a model with the same connections on a fast computer, and you have a robot brain, but recognizably human.
Train an em to do some job and copy it a million times: an army of workers is at your disposal. When they can be made cheaply, within perhaps a century, ems will displace humans in most jobs. In this new economic era, the world economy may double in size every few weeks.
Giulio, in his post, gives us more information regarding the content of the book :
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. Robin’s methodology is to take our world as it, with all the facts and trends that we can see in technology, society, politics, and economics, and add mind uploading technology to scan living people and copy them to “ems” – software emulations running on suitable computing hardware.
This is very Science Fiction and if you’re not familiar with the topics, you may find this all a bit daunting, odd, scary or all three.