Festival of Ideas May 2017

Robin Hanson

Robin Hanson

When Robots Rule The Earth

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 recognisably 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 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.

Speaker biography:

Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, Master's degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago and nine years experience as a research programmer at Lockheed and NASA. He blogs at OvercomingBias. The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth is his latest book. Follow him on Twitter @robinhanson