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The Age of EmWork, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth$
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Robin Hanson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198754626

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198754626.001.0001

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10 (p.133) Existence
The Age of Em

Robin Hanson

Oxford University Press

A functioning em is the result of information representing an em mental state being placed in compatible signal-processing hardware. When this hardware “runs,” it repeatedly calculates the next mental state by combining the previous mental state with inputs from outside systems, and then sends resulting signals to outside systems. In this situation, an em can be said to experience this succession of mental states, while interacting with outside systems. As em hardware and supporting resources are not free, ems are not free; someone must pay to create an em. When an em is copied, the em mental state sitting in compatible hardware is fi rst read out as bits, and then those bits are copied, transmitted, and read into new compatible hardware. Then at the new hardware those bits are converted into the exact same em mental state, now ready to run on this new hardware. Immediately after this copy action, the evolution of the mental states in the two different hardware systems would be exactly the same, if it were not for errors and differences in environmental inputs, and differences in random fluctuations within a fault-prone emulation process. Just as ems are not free but costly, copies are also not free but costly. Typically, an em with an established role in the em world is asked if they want to approve the creation of a new copy, who would have a new life with a new role in that world. Before agreeing to create this new life, the original could ask about the new em’s intended job, location, friends, etc. On occasion, offers for new life roles might be made to archived copies. That is, ems might agree to allow the storage of archive copies, who can then be awoken later to consider new life offers. If the revived copy rejected the offer, it might be retired or ended, as previously agreed. To actually make a copy, an em may invoke a special viewing mode, wherein the em specifies or approves a description of the set of em roles that would result from this copying act. When an em initiates a copy event, it should be ready and willing to take on any of the roles of the resulting copies. Immediately after the copy event, each em copy is informed of its assigned role. Typically one of the ems is assigned to continue its previous role, while other ems are assigned to take on new roles.

Keywords:   authentication, bodies, copies, disasters, fake, interactions, memories, period, records

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