Billions of Artificial Robot Brains Take Over the World: New at Reason

A review of The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life When Robots Rule the Earth


University of Sciences

Move over, humans; the emulations are coming and our world is going to get really weird. That's the premise of the George Mason economist Robin Hanson's fascinating new book, The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life When Robots Rule the Earth, a worthy addition to the growing canon of visionary literature about exponential technological progress. The book tries to discern how the world will change when it becomes possible to upload human minds into computational substrates.

Hanson argues that three supporting technologies are required to achieve this: fast, cheap computers; fast, cheap brain scanners; and detailed and effective models of brain cells. Once all three become available later this century, it will be possible to scan a human brain and emulate it on computer hardware. At that point we'll enter the Age of Emulation—or the Age of Em, for short. And then what? Go read the review to find out.