Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth, with Robin Hanson

London Futurists
London Futurists
Public group
Location image of event venue


Robots may one day rule the world. But what will a robot-ruled Earth be like?

This London Futurists presentation by Professor Robin Hanson will explore the idea that the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations - which can be called ems for short.

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.

Some say we can't know the future, especially following such a disruptive new technology, but Professor Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying his decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he will will use standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

About "The Age of Em":

Professor Hanson's forthcoming book about ems, "The Age of Em - Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth" (, will be published by Oxford University Press in May 2016.

The book discusses em mind speeds, body sizes, job training and career paths, energy use and cooling infrastructure, virtual reality, aging and retirement, death and immortality, security, wealth inequality, religion, teleportation, identity, cities, politics, law, war, status, friendship and love.

While human lives may not change greatly in the em era, em lives will be as different from ours as our lives are from those of our farmer and forager ancestors. Ems make us question common assumptions of moral progress, because they reject many of the values we hold dear.

This book shows you just how strange your descendants may be, though ems are no stranger than we would appear to our ancestors. To most ems, it seems good to be an em.

For more details about this book, see .

These topics will be previewed by Professor Hanson in the talk on 19th March.

About Robin Hanson:

Robin Hanson ( is associate professor of economics at George Mason University (, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute ( of Oxford University.

He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology (, master's degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago (, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed ( and NASA ( He has 2800 citations, 60 publications, 420 media mentions, and he blogs at OvercomingBias (

For a longer biography, see .

Meeting logistics:

2pm-4pm, Saturday 19th March 2016.

Venue: Room B33, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room B33 is on the basement level floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms (, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.

Event hashtag:

#LonFut (

Covering meeting costs:

A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room hire costs. Please pay in advance, online, after you RSVP.

This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.