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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021



27 (p.390) Minds
The Age of Em

Robin Hanson

Oxford University Press

It tends to be easier to make social predictions about the middle of a distribution of characteristics, than about the tails of such a distribution. For example, it is easier to predict the typical time spent sleeping or eating, and the typical style of such activities, than the maximum or minimum time spent in such activities, or the styles of sleeping or eating done by those who spend an unusual amount of time in these functions. This is in part because when scenarios can differ according to a great many variables, this high-dimensionality creates a lot more detail to specify about the tails (i.e., extremes) compared with the middle of a distribution. This is also in part because hard-to-anticipate factors often have disproportionate effects on distribution tails. As ordinary humans are on the periphery of the em society, such issues make it harder to make predictions about humans in an em society. Even so, we should try. Ems are so fast that humans will only experience days in the time that a typical em experiences years. This suggests that during the entire em era humans will only achieve modest psychological and behavioral adaptations to the existence of ems. The human world will mostly look like it did before ems, except for a limited number of changes that can be made quickly. Ems being faster than humans also suggests that most substantial changes to human behaviors during the em era are driven by outside changes, rather than from within human society. Relevant outside changes include wars, changing prices such as wages, interest rates, and land rents, and an explosion of new products and services from the em economy. Because ordinary humans originally owned everything from which the em economy arose, as a group they could retain substantial wealth in the new era. Humans could own real estate, stocks, bonds, patents, etc. Thus a reasonable hope is that ordinary humans become the retirees of this new world. We don’t today kill all the retirees in our world, and then take all their stuff, in part because such actions would threaten the stability of the legal, financial, and political world on which we all rely, and in part because we have many direct social ties to retirees. Yes we humans all expect to retire today, while ems don’t expect to become human, but em retirees are vulnerable in similar ways to humans.

Keywords:   alms, centers, eating, faces, gender, happiness, identity, loyalty, marriages

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