In his new book Here Be Dragons: Science, technology, and the future of humanity, Olle Haggstrom mostly discusses abstract and philosophical issues. But at one point in the book he engages the more specific forecasts I discuss in
Is it worth reading in general?
Hopefully, when you "do a book", you won't include language like "much fewer".
Books are long things - I will not criticize a book for a few errors until I can do a book with much fewer errors.
These discussions are so funny. We don't know the difference between genius brains and brains in comas, or sane brains and insane brains, but one sure way to get the latter is to separate the brain from sensory inputs, or deprive it of a nurturing human upbringing. You folks ought to read Pinker's "The Blank Slate", but it would spoil all the fun.
"hard-headed social science analysis"
To quote just about every biologist upon reading this:
We could ban ems and AGI. A global treaty is doable.
If I'm (un?)lucky enough to still be alive in meatspace at that point, that's going to be a couple of very weird years...
Other than "invest well to take advantage of the huge growth", and "don't try to stop ems, so they have no reason to try to stop meatspace humans" any thoughts on how to minimize the future shock among ourselves? Or should we just be resigned to the fact that we'll be the equivalent of irrelevant retired people?
Care to offer betting odds on your five year prediction?
Don't be so hard on yourself. What you've written is an impressively concise summary of a point of view that is very hard to grasp even for very intelligent people. There are very few people who wouldn't have made vastly more serious mistakes. And by writing it, even with some imperfections, you've further stimulated follow-on discussion allowing people to be more in alignment about these topics, what has been written about them, who has said what, and so on.
Less than two years of real clock time, but subjectively that could be millennia for typical speed ems.
Do you in the book narrow down "substantial era"? Is it a matter of days? Weeks? Months? Years?
Robin, I apologize for the misrepresentations of your arguments. They were unintentional but sloppy on a level way below the standard I aspire to. The statement about assuming exponential decay of hardware costs is an embarrassing mistake. Regarding artificial stimulation of pleasure centers, I must simply have cited from my own mutated memory.
It seems a ritual among academicians to lavishly praise a writer as prelude to dismissing him.
Okay. I guess that's conceivable. It seems implausible, but I don't have any relevant expertise with which to back up my gut reaction.
Right. I'm just thinking that entities that own large quantities of computing power would want to devote some of it to figuring out how to use the rest of it most profitably. Presumably, as soon as someone discovers a more efficient way of doing artificial general intelligence than running ems, market forces would cause that alternative approach to displace ems as the dominant way of using computers to do knowledge work.
This could happen in an incremental fashion, with AGI systems getting less and less similar to human minds over time. The question is, How long could the em economy develop along the lines Hanson predicts before ems are mostly displaced by something completely different? That would depend on how hard it is to fill in the gap between "scientific knowledge necessary to build ems cheaply" and "scientific knowledge necessary to build altogether different and better AGI technology."
I assume only that it there will be a substantial era I can describe before research that develops things radically different makes my forecasts useless. It requires a quite radical increase in innovation rates for this not to happen.
In the scenario, there isn't some tyrannical CPU allocator that dictates what the world's computers are to run. Each computer presumably has an owner, and that owner runs whatever brings the highest returns. Hosting ems that pay "rent" will probably be lucrative, since they have earning power and a will to live (consume cycles). Other routines might be lucrative too - like physics simulations, game servers, etc.
I imagine the computer owner will have decisions to make that are similar to those of a land owner. Do I use my land for agriculture, industry, human housing, or recreation? It depends on which demands are unmet at the time. For computers, the demand for cycles from ems would not reach a saturation point: No matter how many computers there happen to be, on any *new* computer that's "vacant", one could instantaneously create ems (by copying files) that would pay well to fill that vacancy - probably well enough to justify the cost of building and maintaining the computer. That's how I imagine that global computing would be dominated by running ems.