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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $42.00

Hardback 448 pp.
156 mm x 234 mm



Publication date:
June 2016

Imprint: OUP UK

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The Age of Em

Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth

Robin Hanson

Robots may one day rule the world, but what is a robot-ruled Earth like?

Many think the first truly smart robots will be brain emulations or ems. 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 Robin Hanson sets out to prove them wrong. Applying decades of expertise in physics, computer science, and economics, he uses standard theories to paint a detailed picture of a world dominated by ems.

While human lives don't change greatly in the em era, em lives are 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.

Read about 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.

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.

Readership : For anyone wanting a well-reasoned view of the future and the lives of our descendants, the book will appeal to general readers and be especially attractive to those interested in: Physics, Economics, Philosophy, Artificial intelligence and machine learning, and Transhumanism.

1. Start
2. Eras
3. Framing
4. Assumptions
5. Implementation
6. Scales
7. Infrastructure
8. Appearances
9. Information
10. Existence
11. Farewells
12. Labor
13. Efficiency
14. Work
15. Business
16. Growth
17. Lifecycle
18. Clumping
19. Groups
20. Conflict
21. Politics
22. Rules
23. Mating
24. Signals
25. Collaboration
26. Society
27. Minds
28. Variations
29. Choices
30. Finale

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Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. Professor Hanson has master's degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, nine years experience in artificial intelligence research at Lockheed and N.A.S.A., a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, 2800 citations, and sixty academic publications, in economics, physics, computer science, philosophy, and more. He blogs at OvercomingBias.com, and has pioneered the field of prediction markets since 1988.

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Special Features

  • A unique look into the possible technilogical future of the human race.
  • Draws upon an unusually wide command of academic consensus and standard analytical tools across economics, engineering, computing, physical sciences, and the human and social sciences.
  • Hanson's blog OvercomingBias.com receives over 50,000 visitors per month, with more than 8 million visitors since 2006
  • Encyclopedic in scope.