I’m in the last few weeks of finishing my book The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life When Robots Rule The Earth, about social outcomes in a world dominated by brain emulations. As a teaser, let me share some hopefully non-obvious results about redistribution in the em world.
It will be very profitable to make copies of the most productive people willing to work hard. All the less productive people, not so much. I'm probably not one of the best, so I'd have to pay for my own future caring.
Spring 2016. I'll say when I get more info.
When exactly will the book be published?
apologies for the typos/autocorrectos.
Interesting. *If* we had tech to clone structures/activity patters (including the bulk of up to that point genereated memories) without complete knowledge of the inner workings *and* if "em brains can be made as fast as factories can crank them out" (Robin comment below) then it seems likely that we would also be able to quickly figure out the inner workings of memory at least. Because we could crank out massive numbers of clones with very small variations in memory associated structures and then comparatively those variations to differences in memory recall tests, etcetera.
I can barely keep my own websites running, even though I am alive. Why would I expect anybody in the future to care much about performing maintenance on my disembodied memories?
Similarly, have you noticed that, say, the Ford Foundation isn't using Henry Ford's money to promote Henry Ford's values? Professor Hanson's em will likely be arguing for Luddite socialism 100 years from now.
The idea behind ems is that they are copies of human brain structure and brain activity patterns that can be copied without complete knowledge of the inner workings, while sharing of memories may (or may not, if I'm being perfectly honest, but Robin seems to think it will) require such knowledge.
Is a scenario with ems that can't/don't share memories more likely than a scenario with ems that can/do and if so why?
"The main human wealth would be investments in the em economy. Taxes on those could change very quickly."
They could*, doesn't mean they would. I'd wager it would take time for the general population to acknowledge ems as a needy part of the population (while somehow still not pushing for legislation that could ease the plight of ems permanently, ie regulation of em creation rates), then some time before the legislation gets through (the investors would be a rich and therefore powerful group) and finally some time before resources are actually delivered (designing of a practical redistribution algorithm, constructing and connecting servers that dish out "free" CPU cycles or something like that). Meanwhile the humans without significant investments in the em economy are quickly impoverished while every time a typical rich human loses em stock he can't buy it back (because he'll be mercilessly outcompeted by em tycoons).
I'm not sure what the significance of organics-to-em redistribution would be when the em economy is much larger than the organic economy, but I accept it is interesting to think about in theory as that form of redistribution would indeed be very different of what we consider redistribution today.
*this does bring up the question of why a government that can enforce taxation would not enforce regulation on em creation rates.
Please, they are just "ems", not "EMs".
I think there is a misunderstanding going on here. Standard measures of inequality look at income differences between individuals or between households. In American parlance the nuclear family is often simply called "family". Nuclear families are a common form of household but form less than half of the total and siblings within these households are usually children without a significant income of their own. The research Robin points to compared income inequality between adult siblings with income inequality between groups of adult siblings (all the siblings in a family), here the former was found to be three times as high as the latter. It did not show that income inequality between siblings is three times higher than income inequality between households, let alone individuals (whose inequality can't be less than inequality between siblings unless only-children somehow have less inequality between them than individuals overall).
I'm not sure whether Robin mistakenly thought the income inequality between families part was about income inequality between households (because of the confusing use of the word "family" in American parlance), or that he just wanted to point out some non-standard form of income inequality (but which isn't much worse than standard measurements of income inequality).
Yes I assume ems cannot share memories, other than sharing memories from before being copied and then diverging.
If some of that design and delivery could be prefigured in regulatory and economic structures set in place before the start of the competitive EM/human phase then that prefiguration could have positive effects during that phase, especially if that phase will involve several EM centuries since that quantity of subjective time would mean that different policies or lack thereof may result in very different sum total wellbeing outcomes during that phase. Thinking and writing about that issue know may be worth doing in order to find out if such prefiguration is worth attempting.
Instead, most concern today about inequality, and most debate about redistribution to address inequality, focuses on one very particular “standard” kind of inequality. This standard inequality looks at differences in average individual financial incomes between the families of a nation, all at a given time.
I question whether most of the debate about redistribution concerns inequality between families. First, it would seem particularly difficult to collect familial data on inequality. What records would you look at to establish kinship associations? Second, our most touted redistributive mechanism, the income tax, is targeted at inequalities between individuals. Absolutely no account is taken of family averages; almost everybody would reject that practice. (So, how are we predisposed to it by our forager mores?)
True. So is a clan more like a person or more like a family?
It just occurred to me after reading your comment that I have been working from a slightly different set of assumptions than may be. I had in mind a situation where em copies could directly share memories amongst themselves, but I think your working assumption is that that will not be possible. So I was thinking a clan would be quite a bit like an individual person, that could just happen to do many things at once. Assuming that no memory integration is possible, a clan is really more like a family and none of these objections quite apply (except the one that people would have reduced sympathy for ems since they can choose their own existence, but as you say, that doesn't necessarily negate the broader point.)
But these same issue have applied to families for centuries. Families that have more descendants are still given charity if their current members are individually impoverished.