Brain emulation, also known as mind uploading, is a concept that has fascinated science fiction writers and futurists for decades. This is the theoretical idea of scanning a brain – or a mental state – and copying it into the computer. Although no such technology currently exists, many prominent people have explored it as a likely possibility for the future, from inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil to science fiction author Charles Stross.
Robin Hanson: The Age of Em – Whole Brain Emulation
Futurist and economist Robin Hanson takes the idea of brain emulations to a new level of detail in his new book The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth.
He extrapolates from what we currently know about human biology, computer science, physics, psychology, and economics, and attempts to predict what will happen once we are able to successfully upload the first humans into the digital form. By his calculations, this is something that we can possibly see within the next hundred years. The events he describes in his book take place 1 year after the first human has been uploaded to the internet.
Robin Hanson himself has a very diverse academic background, which makes his multidisciplinary approach somewhat different from those who came before him in this field. While many other futurists and science fiction writers have focused on trying to get the technology parts of the story right, Hanson focuses more on the economics, psychology, and social science aspects on the emulated humans and their environments. He also outlines the 3 technologies that will be required to create full brain emulations, and how we can develop those technologies faster.
In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:
- What happens 1 year after we upload our brains to the internet
- How brain emulations will interact with each other and biological humans
- Life in VR: what would it be like?
- Why future growth may not driven by innovation
- The 3 technologies that are required to create full brain emulations
- The ethics of emulating humans – destructive and selective uploading
- How brain uploading will change the concept of death
- The simulation hypothesis – what’s the chance we are already in a simulation?
- Brain emulation and the Fermi Paradox
Quote From This Episode:
“History is important and interesting to study, but the future is also important – plausibly, more important, because we can actually do something about the future. The past is too late to do anything about.” – Robin Hanson
Mentions and Resources:
- The Age of Em by Robin Hanson
- The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil
- Accelerando by Charles Stross
- Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin
- Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth by Buckminster Fuller
More From Future Thinkers:
- Individuality and The BORG (FTP006)
- Transhumanism and Technological Evolution (FTP007)
- Blockchain: Building Blocks for a New Society with Vince Meens (FTP033)
- Our 5-part Interview with Vinay Gupta on Techno-Social Systems and Enlightenment (FTP018, 19, 26, 27, 28)
- Global Phase Shift with Daniel Schmachtenberger (FTP036)