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Oxford University Press
19 May 2016
Many thinkers believe that the next transformational change in human organization will be the onset of human-level artificial intelligence (the 'singularity'), and that the most likely method of achieving this will come through brain emulations or ems : the ability to scan human brains and program their connections into ever faster computers. Taking this as his starting point, Hanson describes what a world dominated by these ems will be like.
By:   Robin Hanson (Associate Professor of Economics Associate Professor of Economics George Mason University)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 174mm,  Spine: 29mm
Weight:   813g
ISBN:   9780198754626
ISBN 10:   0198754620
Pages:   368
Publication Date:   19 May 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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, and has pioneered the field of prediction markets since 1988.

Reviews for The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth

Plenty of futurists and science fiction writers have toyed with the idea that the brains of particular humans could one day be scanned and uploaded into artificial hardware but Prof Hanson's take is different. His aim is to use standard theories from the physical, human and social sciences to make forecasts about how this technological breakthrough would really change our world. Sarah O' Connor, Financial Times The book is crammed full of such fascinating visions of an imagined future Sarah O'Connor, Financial Times This hellish cyberworld is quite cool to think about in a dystopian Matrixy way. ... brilliantly weird extrapolation Steven Poole, The Guardian Mr. Hanson's book is comprehensive and not put-downable. The author has thought of everything. He's anticipated every one of my objections, including the manifestly unscientific one of how creepy this all sounds ... Even if you aren't interested in the future, The Age of Em provides a wonderful overview of the current social psychology of productivity Daniel J. Levitin, Wall Street Journal Europe What is remarkable ... is not just the detail ... but the way he situates it within a perceptive analysis of our human past and present Daniel J. Levitin, Wall Street Journal Europe there is no doubt that what Hanson is doing here is truly fascinating... any science fiction author worth his or her salt should be rushing out and buying a copy of this book Brian Clegg, Popular Science Robin Hanson brings intelligence, imagination, and courage to some of the most profound questions humanity will be dealing with in the middle-term future. The Age of Em is a stimulating and unique book that will be valuable to anyone who wants to look past the next ten years to the next hundred and the next thousand. Sean Carroll, Professor of Physics, California Institute of Technology, author The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself What happens when a first-rate economist applies his rigor, breadth, and curiosity to the sci-fi topic of whole brain emulations? This book is what happens. There's nothing else like it, and it will blow your (current) mind. Andrew McAfee, Professor of Business, Massachusetts Institute of Technology A highly provocative vision of a technologically advanced future that may or may not come true - but if it does, we'll be glad Robin wrote this book now. Marc Andreessen, cofounder Netscape, Andreessen Horowitz In this brilliant analysis, Robin Hanson shows that our hyper-smart downloaded - or emulated - heirs will still have ambitions, triumphs and thwarted desires. They'll make alliances, compete, cooperate ... and very-likely love ... all driven by immutable laws of nature and economics. Super intelligence may be a lot more like us than you imagined. David Brin, two times Hugo award winner Robin Hanson provides a richly detailed portrait of a future society where brain emulation is widespread. Drawing on physics, economics, sociology, history, and a host of other disciplines, he describes a world that is wonderfully strange and yet strikingly familiar. Far out? Yes. Fascinating? That too. Hal Varian, chief economist Google, Emeritus Professor of Economics, U.C. Berkeley A fascinating thought experiment about the future, written with clarity and verve by somebody who thinks very deeply and freely. Matt Ridley, columnist The Times Robin Hanson has a remarkable mind and has written a remarkable book. Whether you agree or disagree with each of his specific predictions, each page will entice you to think more deeply. Erik Brynjolfsson, coauthor The Second Machine Age There are different paths to the Technological Singularity. In The Age of Em Robin Hanson explores one such possibility. With this book, Hanson owns the Em scenario. Vernor Vinge, five times Hugo award winner Robin Hanson is a thinker like no other on this planet: someone so unconstrained by convention, so unflinching in spelling out the consequences of ideas, that even the most cosmopolitan reader is likely to find him as bracing (and head-clearing) as a mouthful of wasabi. Scott Aaronson, author Quantum Computing since Democritus Robin Hanson's new tour de force will dazzle and delight you. Anyone who loves books should read The Age of Em. Tyler Cowen, columnist New York Times The Age of Em combines Hanson's expertise in social science and artificial intelligence to paint a stunning vision of the future of intelligent life. The result is a noble effort to subordinate science fiction to science. Bryan Caplan, author The Myth of the Rational Voter Robin Hanson integrates ferocious future forces: robotics, artificial intelligence, overpopulation, economic stagnation - and comes up with a detailed, striking set of futures we can have, if we think harder. Gregory Benford, two times Nebula award winner Robin Hanson is one of the most original thinkers in the world - and this fascinating account of our future society is like nothing you'll read anywhere else. Astonishing stuff. Tim Harford, columnist Financial Times Hanson is pioneering a new style of science fiction: using calculations rather than mere stories to imagine what a world of artificial humans would be like. Kevin Kelly, author The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future The Age of Em is a rare wonder: a book both fully intellectually rigorous, and boldly embracing of the radical possibilities the future holds. Far more clearly than from any work of mere science fiction, one gleans from Hanson's book a clear idea of what a future world dominated by brain emulations or 'Ems' might actually be like. Ben Goertzel, founder AGI Society, OpenCog Foundation Nobody else could have explored the implications of whole-brain emulation in such visionary yet plausible detail. It's one of the most important books you'll ever read. Geoffrey Miller, author The Mating Mind, Spent, Mate Carefully reasoned, thoroughly researched, and incisively argued, this book will change the way you look at our uploaded future, and the entire concept of the Singularity. Ramez Naam, author Nexus, The Infinite Resource Most futurism is remarkable chiefly for its lack of imagination. The Age of Em is that rare book that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of what is possible. Tim O'Reilly, founder & CEO, O'Reilly Media Here we have a systematic attempt to envisage what could well be the next technological disruption of the human condition: a world after the 'anthropocene' which does not conform to the usual ecological scenarios. Steve Fuller, author Humanity 2.0 Hanson takes a few simple assumptions and relentlessly follows their implications to paint a fascinating and chillingly plausible posthuman future, realised in fractal-like detail. A tour de force of rigorous speculation that draws equally upon physics, economics and neuroscience, every page of The Age of Em brims with fascinating ideas. Hannu Rajaniemi, author The Quantum Thief The best way to predict the future may be to create it, but to create it you first must study it. Read this book! Robert Freitas, author Nanomedicine Hanson puts Nostradamus to shame, foretelling humans moving from flesh and blood to abstract immortal emulations , computer programs made of bits, our civilization uploading to gigahertz processors exchanging gigabytes 24/7. Ralph Merkle, co-inventor public key cryptography Hanson honors the physics and the likely future economics of emulated minds. Students of AI, virtual reality, economics, and science can benefit in multiple ways from this extraordinary work of thoughtful and courageous technological forecasting. Neil Jacobstein, Chair, AI and Robotics, Singularity University at NASA Research Park, Mountain View CA

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