[ExI] Obama keen on brain mapping

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Apr 5 08:29:12 UTC 2013

On 05/04/2013 06:21, Alan Grimes wrote:
> What the heck is an upload transition? 

The transition from a world where brain emulation is not possible to a 
world where it is doable.

The issue I am concerned about is that the economic and social impact of 
being able to copy human capital and achieve effective immortality is... 
pretty big. Copyable human capital makes economic growth models blow up: 
Robin Hanson's uploading economics papers are on the conservative end. 
In the past transitions to slightly faster economic growth rates and new 
means of production have led to pretty dramatic effects on the lives of 
people (consider the industrial revolution, globalisation, 
de-industrialisation), but most have developed rather slowly. Yes, I 
think most of these have improved things overall, but during the 
transition there is plenty of pain and some people get an extra unfair 

In upload transition scenarios, there are good reasons to think that a 
very sudden transition would cause a lot of drama - massive first mover 
advantages, big rewards for ignoring moral or legal rules, entirely new 
players gaining enormous wealth and power, big challenges to existing 
legal and social systems, new kinds of enslaveable agents not accepted 
by everybody as being persons, and so on. I am working on a proper paper 
on the topic, but our preliminary finding is that out of the list of 
putative causes of war and social conflicts rapid uploading transitions 
manages to check lots of boxes.

Disaster is not guaranteed, but it looks like the ordering of component 
technologies can reduce the risks significantly. Hence it makes sense to 
wish for the less risky orderings.

If you think brain emulation is impossible, then this analysis doesn't 
matter. If you think it is irrelevant because of some other future 
technology, fine, but consider that there is a certain risk that that 
technology does not arrive fast enough.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford University

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