Economist says uploaded brains will take over all jobs within 100 years

digital cityEugene Sergeev / Shutterstock

We’ve all heard wild visions of the future. Hearing them from an economist, in a new book from Oxford University Press, makes them seem unusually real.

Robin Hanson predicts in “ The Age of Em ” that we’ll develop cheap technology for emulating brains on computers in the next 100 years.

He expects emulations, or ems, to be like human brains but able to run 1,000 times faster and be copied. He predicts they will quickly put every human out of work and create a radical new civilization, living by the billions or trillions in a few megacities.

Humans who have investments and other protection will do fine in this era, but those who don’t could be screwed.

Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason and research associate at Oxford University with degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in social science from CalTech and nine years experience in AI research at Lockheed and NASA.

Tech Insider spoke with him about what’s coming next.

End of the industrial era

We should have at least several decades before the singularity, when machine intelligence leaves human intelligence in the dust. Enjoy the twilight of the industrial era while it lasts.

Hanson expects the coming years to be relatively predictable and pleasant.

“People have seen consistent trends not only to individual wealth, but also towards more democracy, less slavery, more leisure, more promiscuity, less religion,” Hanson says. In other words, the world is getting better.

“There’ve always been people telling you the world’s getting worse. Objectively, it’s less true today,” Hanson says.

Sure, there are risks, but society is increasingly protected against many of them. Pandemics could kill people by the millions, but our technology for fighting them is getting better. War could break out, but that happens less these days than ever. Climate change could be disastrous, but at least some people are preparing for it. Meanwhile, people will keep losing jobs to machines, but it’s happening slowly enough that society can adapt.

And then suddenly everything will change.

Rise of the robots

age of em robin hansonCourtesy of Oxford University Press

Hanson thinks we’ll figure out whole brain emulation before we figure out human-level artificial intelligence—a view he shares with Google futurist Ray Kurzweil. The idea is that recreating a functionally similar brain computer is easier than creating consciousness through code.

If emulations do come first, then the singularity could sneak up on us. Quiet developments in brain scanning, brain cell models, and signal-processing hardware might suddenly allow us to put a brain on a computer, and within a few years it could be cheap enough for ems to conquer the world.

“There’s a transition phase lasting five years, perhaps, but then once it finally gets going and it’s full mode, then humans retire,” Hanson predicts. “[Ems] basically beat humans at being more cost effective at all jobs.”

Ems, which think about 1000x faster than humans, can do everything a human worker can and more.

“The emulations typically work in virtual reality, because most jobs are office jobs, but some of their jobs are physical jobs, like operating a crane or operating a factory or driving a truck or things like that, and for that they have bodies, real bodies, and the bodies are whatever are appropriate for that task,” Hanson says.

The only remaining jobs for humans would be based on nostalgia for the old era.

“If there are rich humans who just get a thrill out of hiring real human waiters or  … even real human prostitutes, perhaps, then those jobs might be done by human,” Hanson says.

The ems would quickly take over every almost every corporation and government and start some of their own.

“Even if [Google] has a human CEO at the very top, that human CEO can’t be making very many fast decisions,” Hanson says. “They’ll have to rubber stamp recommendations made to them by the ems. Maybe they’ll cover that up, but the effect of things will be the ems are making most of the concrete decisions…. Similarly, for government, human governments could still oversee and regulate but only slowly, so they’ll have to delegate a lot of authority to fast ems.”

Hanson expects the ems to cluster in a few incredibly dense cities, which could emerge wherever there’s a good combination of early momentum and low regulation.

“At the very beginning, the ems will just want to be near their customers and near their suppliers, and that suggests they’d want to be near big cities, and wherever they start out, it will probably be hard to move,” Hanson says. “[But] the ems will be looking for places with relatively low regulation and relative freedom to do things differently.”

Em megacities might rise up in a special economic zone near a major city. Ems might also just push humans out of a prime location.

“At some point they may decide to just buy out New York City,” Hanson says. “They basically say we’ll just pay for everything, buy out the entire thing, and then we’ll fill it all with our computer hardware.”

Could ems take over human property violently? Hanson thinks this less likely. He expects ems to act more like giant corporations, growing as fast as possible within legal means.

Hanson’s book goes deep into the intricacies of em civilization, how our successors will work, love, live, and more, even while acknowledging that the age of ems might last only a year or two before transitioning to something even strange.

The book only glosses over, however, what will happen to humans. It’s not bad for everyone, but it could be for many.

Surviving the future

tunnelEugene Sergeev / Shutterstock

In Hanson’s vision of the future, humans who have investments will be in great shape. After all, the economy will grow unimaginably fast with ems at the wheel.

“Humans own most of this world, so as it grows, say, doubling every month, then their wealth doubles every month, so collectively humans get very rich, very fast,” Hanson says.

These rich capitalists will lives of pleasure, assuming it’s possible to find happiness without meaningful work. They will of course have access to amazing virtual reality and more wonders of the future.

Humans who have sufficient insurance or sharing arrangements (Hanson’s terms for various financial structures that will guarantee regular income) will also be fine.

“You could get insurance privately. You could get insurance via a family. Or you could get insurance via a government,” Hanson says. “[As for sharing], you might get help from a wide range: churches, charities of all sorts.”

Universal basic income? Hanson says this idea would only work reliably if it were implemented on a global scale. Otherwise, any location that tried to fund it alone would risk getting left behind in the rise of ems and having no money left.

Thus savvy humans will figure out how to protect themselves. Governments might be able to do it. Rich organizations, possibly including the ems themselves, might do it. Still many humans could be left out in the cold.

“There is a substantial risk that a lot of people will be in trouble,” Hanson says.

Hanson’s advice for young people today?

“Be ready, I guess, is the straightforward advice,” he says. “That is, most of what I’m talking about won’t happen anytime soon, but when it does happen, it will happen pretty fast.”

That means accumulating financial assets, setting yourself up for sharing or insurance arrangements, or—in an unusual option discussed at in the book—trying to increase your odds that some ems will be based on your brain or your descendant’s brain.

If you want to increase your likelihood of seeing this era, Hanson advocates another approach: cryogenics. He has been a member of industry pioneer, Alcor, for around 20 years and wears a chain around his neck with instructions to freeze his body when he dies in the hopes that future medicine will be able to revive him.

The problem with science fiction

dollhouse joss whedon eliza dushku“Dollhouse” on Fox

Hanson says the problem with most science-fiction and lots of futurism is that it doesn’t pay attention to things like economics.

“Even what they call hard science fiction tries often to get the physics or get the science right, but they’re usually just laughably wrong about the social science.”

One piece of science-fiction he likes is “ Kiln People ” by David Brin, which bears a lot in common with “The Age of Em.”

“His scenario was people made of clay that you could copy your mind into, so it was not computer based, but he works out many of the similar implication about the effects on jobs and things like that,” Hanson says.

Star Wars ”?

“‘Star Wars’ is silly both on the physics, computers, and the social things.”

Star Trek ”?

“Also pretty silly on all these criteria.”

Hanson had not seen “ Doll House ” by Joss Whedon, which imagines a world where personalities can be uploaded from or downloaded into people, but he points out that it doesn’t go far enough.

“The number of bodies in the world doesn’t change. What you’re just switching is who’s running each body.”

The truth about the future? It will follow a lot of the same non-fantastic realities that govern the world today.

“One indication that I’ve been successful,” Hanson writes in the introduction to “The Age of Em,” “will be if my scenario description sounds less like it came from a typical comic book or science-fiction movie, and more like it came from a typical history text or business casebook.

Hanson tells Tech Insider he has recently accepted a grant from the Open Philanthropy Foundation to analyze what will happen if traditional AI reaches human-level thinking before we develop ems. This scenario would play out differently, but with about the same outcome for us.

“What happens to humans is going to have to be pretty similar, but it will be more gradual and foreseen,” Hanson says.

One way or another, the machines are taking over.

Read the original article on Tech Insider. Follow Tech Insider on Facebook and Twitter.

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Does a Massive Flood Confirm China’s Creation Myth?

Evidence shows a cataclysmic flood occurred along the Yellow River 3,200 years ago

china_flood.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

Flood Skeletons
Remains discovered in the village of Lajia, allowing researchers to date the massive earthquake and flood on the Yellow River (Cai Linhai)
By Jason Daley
SMITHSONIAN.COM

According to legend, the history of China began with heavy flooding along the Yellow River. A man named Gun helped control the floods temporarily by building dikes, but it wasn’t until his son Yu took over the project and taught the locals to dredge the river and channel the water that the problem was finally fixed. Yu’s innovations ushered the expansion of agriculture and the beginning of the Chinese civilization, which he led as the first emperor of the Xia Dynasty. There is no historical evidence of Yu’s reign and the fact that a yellow dragon and black turtle supposedly helped him dig the channels has placed the story squarely in the realm of myth.

As for the giant flood, however, researchers in China recently revealed that they’ve found evidence of a cataclysmic event along the Yellow River around 1200 B.C. According to a press release, study leader Qinglong Wu of Peking University in Beijing led a team of archaeologists and geologists to reconstruct a series of events along the Yellow River in Qinghai Province. What they found is that a landslide dammed the river, eventually flooding the area downstream. Mapping the sediments, they were able to determine that the flood was truly massive. Their study appears in the journal Science.

Co-author Darryl Granger of Purdue University said in a conference call that the floodwaters topped out at almost 125 feet above the current river level. That is a cataclysm “roughly equivalent to the largest Amazon flood ever measured,” he says, and 500 times larger than any flood caused by heavy rains on the Yellow River.

The researchers believe that an earthquake in the area caused the landslide that obstructed the river in the Jishi Gorge, reports Nicholas Wade at The New York Times. According to Michael Greshko at National Geographic, Wu found the remnants of the dam in the Gorge that were half a mile wide, three-quarters of a mile long, and 660 feet tall. “That’s as big as the Hoover Dam or the Three Gorges Dam,” Granger tells Greshko. “Imagine a dam like that failing.”
Six to nine months later, that temporary dam did break, releasing 3.8 cubic miles of water that surged downstream for 1,250 miles causing major floods all the way and even redirecting the river’s course, Wade writes.

Researchers were able to date the earthquake and the flood by testing the remains of three children found 16 miles downstream in the village of Lajia, which was devastated by the earthquake then washed over when the dam broke.

The dates line up with what little scholars know about Emperor Yu. “If the great flood really happened, then perhaps it is also likely that the Xia dynasty really existed too. The two are directly tied to each other,” study co-author David Cohen of National Taiwan University tells Greshko.

However, critics are skeptical that the Great Flood and Emperor Yu are based on historical fact, Wade reports. After all, many creation myths are based on the idea of the world or civilizations emerging from receding floodwaters. Instead, they argue that the Yu story is probably a conflation of several myths about floods.

“These are relatively late legends that were propagated for philosophical and political reasons,” Paul Goldin, a China scholar at the University of Pennsylvania tells Wade, “and it’s inherently questionable to suppose that they represent some dim memory of the past.”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/massive-flood-may-confirm-chinas-creation-myth-180960037/#L3fOrhl0k4j6khZe.99
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Cosplay Pictures for Your Saturday!

After traveling a few weeks – I’m back for blog posts…

Cosplayers and their cosplay for your enjoyment!

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Cosplay for Your Weekend Fun!

Enjoy these awesome pictures of cosplayers and their cosplay!

 

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Instant Portable Keyboard…

GET READY TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU TYPE WITH THIS AMAZING WEARABLE KEYBOARD
By Andy Boxall — May 12, 2016

In the near future, you may not need to touch your phone, tablet, or keyboard when you want to type. That’s the concept behind the Tap Strap, an amazing wearable Bluetooth keyboard that converts finger movements into key presses, so you can tap out messages using any surface as a virtual keyboard.

Don’t expect a visual prompt, or some laser-projected keyboard to guide you. It’s all done using gestures. You start by putting on the Tap Strap. It slides over your fingers like a glove, and is made from a soft smart-fabric that has sensors inside to analyze finger movements. It can go on either hand, or you can wear two for faster two-handed typing.

Tapping with each finger will see a character or number appear on the screen, and it’s possible to punctuate and insert special characters using different gestures. While Tap Systems, the company behind the Tap Strap, hasn’t said exactly how it works, a Bloomberg report says a single tap from each of your five fingers translates into a vowel, and combinations add consonants.

There are apparently 31 possible finger taps, and although an accuracy of 99 percent is promised, we expect a strong predictive text element to play a part of the Tap Strap’s typing skills. Most people struggle to remember more than handful of gestures, let alone 31. Tap Systems sees the Tap Strap as an alternative to voice control, emphasizing the privacy aspect of using gestures to type messages as one of its major benefits.

Bluetooth connectivity

The Tap Strap connects using Bluetooth, and therefore should operate with almost any mobile device, but the real advantage here could be for use with VR headsets. Anyone who has tried typing on the Gear VR — where you must look at each individual character on the screen — will know how laborious the process can be. Wear the Tap Strap, and you could tap out commands on your leg. It also negates the problem of how to type on a smartwatch’s small screen, and is already compatible with smart TVs, Windows and Mac OS X, plus Android and iOS devices.

Its use goes beyond virtual keyboard control, and Tap Systems founder Ran Poliakine envisages it being used for playing music on digital devices, and being incorporated into mixed reality hardware such as Microsoft’s HoloLens headset. To promote the Tap Strap’s multiple uses, a development kit and a reference design will be available to developers and hardware manufacturers.

If you’ve heard Poliakine’s name before, it’s because he also founded Powermat Technologies, one of the companies still battling for wireless charging supremacy. We’ve also seen various virtual alternative keyboards over the past years, but the Tap Strap seems to be the closest to becoming reality. It’s on its way out to selected beta testers right now, and the intention is for it to be on sale before the end of the year.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/tap-strap-wearable-keyboard-news/#ixzz4CTccl6my
Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | digitaltrendsftw on Facebook

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Random Humor

Random humor for your enjoyment!

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7 Irregularities that suggest Earth’s Moon was engineered

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