Lecture: Whole Brain Emulation

I am a member of the Philosophical Society of Washington and thought some of you would like to attend this. The PSW is not a "Philosophy" organzation but rather a scientific one formed in the 1800s when there was not a distinction.  The lectures are always facinating and free to the public.

Envisioning Economies And Societies of Emulated Minds

Robin Hanson

Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University


The three most disruptive transitions in history were the introduction of humans, farming, and industry. If another transition lies ahead, a good guess for its source is artificial intelligence in the form of whole brain emulations, or "ems," sometime in roughly a century. I apply standard social science to this unusual situation, to outline a relatively-likely reference scenario set modestly far into a post-em-transition world. I consider families, reproduction, life plans, daily activities, inequality, class, work training, property rights, firm management, industrial organization, urban agglomeration, security, politics, and governance.

About the Author:

Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, and chief scientist at Consensus Point. After receiving his Ph.D. in social science from the California Institute of Technology in 1997, Robin was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health policy scholar at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, Robin received a masters in physics and a masters in the philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, and afterward spent nine years researching artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistics, and hypertext publishing at Lockheed, NASA, and independently. Robin has published widely and is the author or co-author on over 70 publications in both academic publications and more widely circulated media.

Robin has pioneered prediction markets, also known as information markets or idea futures, since 1988. He was the first to write in detail about people creating and subsidizing markets in order to gain better estimates on those topics. Robin was a principal architect of the first internal corporate markets, at Xanadu in 1990, of the first web markets, the Foresight Exchange since 1994, and of DARPA's Policy Analysis Market, from 2001 to 2003. Robin has developed new technologies for conditional, combinatorial, and intermediated trading, and has studied insider trading, manipulation, and other foul play. Robin has written and spoken widely on the application of idea futures to business and policy, being mentioned in over one hundered press articles on the subject, and advising many ventures, including GuessNow, Newsfutures, Particle Financial, Prophet Street, Trilogy Advisors, XPree, YooNew, and undisclosable defense research projects. He is now chief scientist at Consensus Point.

Robin has diverse research interests, with papers on spatial product competition, health incentive contracts, group insurance, product bans, evolutionary psychology and bioethics of health care, voter information incentives, incentives to fake expertize, Bayesian classification, agreeing to disagree, self-deception in disagreement, probability elicitation, wiretaps, image reconstruction, the history of science prizes, reversible computation, the origin of life, the survival of humanity, very long term economic growth, growth given machine intelligence, and interstellar colonization.

The lecture will be presented in the Powell Auditorium. The John Wesley Powell Auditorium is adjacent to the Cosmos Club, 2170 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008. Entrance is through the club gate, the first right-hand entrance on Florida Avenue north of the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue NW. The auditorium entrance is to the left of the gate. Further information and directions can be found on the Society's website and on the Cosmos Club website.



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  • Steven

    I thought it interesting as Dr Hanson played out a society of productive Emulated Units, copied originally from hand selected ideal candidates with the requisite attributes for production, he did not mention words like "virtue", "compassion" or "happiness".

    In fact, when I asked about happiness in his future, his interpretation of happiness seemed to be it was a biological means to achieve production, so I suppose he would view it as non-essential, replaced by methods of efficiency with predetermined time periods for leisure and the like.

    He played out this fanciful speculation describing ever more productive EUs, made from copies of retired and segregated EUs with each generation smaller than the previous in what I can only imagine as a collectivist colony. When a slide revealed an architecturally fine city rising from the ground sloping upward to a peak with some unimaginable internal framework it occurred to me:

    Now here is a man with the intellect of an ant.


    December 8, 2012

  • c

    I didn't know how to find the group in the crowd, but the free valet parking worked out! Thanks for the info!

    December 7, 2012

  • Steven

    Expect the lecture this evening to be packed. In addition to the regular attendance, there are at least two other meetup groups attending. Find a seat and there is ample time to talk after the lecture for which light refreshments are provided.

    Typically, there is no charge for parking at the Cosmos Club events but this is not the official position on the Cosmos Club website (PSW is not affiliated beyond using this facility). Just tell the valet you are there for the PSW although I cannot assure you of no charge.

    The most reliable travel and the one I am using is the metro, Red line, Dupont Circle stop.

    Please review the address and your personal logistics ahead of time as this has caused a few some difficulty. My number is[masked] if you get turned around.

    The John Wesley Powell Auditorium is adjacent to the Cosmos Club, 2170 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008.


    December 7, 2012

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