[ExI] Digital identity

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Apr 26 12:08:19 UTC 2013

On 26/04/2013 12:06, BillK wrote:
> Faith in the market is quite touching in these days of rapacious fraud
> taking over everything of value. :)

Last time I looked, they had not repealed the law of supply and demand. 
If you think that one is invalid, I think I can sell you a few bridges :-)

> Again, property rights are being trampled on all over the world.
> Inequality is increasing as less and less is left for the 99%. "Laws
> are for the little people".

Actually not. People with wealth have a stronger reason to have rule of 
law: they cannot personally protect all their wealth, and much of it is 
based on well-functioning markets with low friction. No laws: plenty of 
friction, ownership becomes unstable. There is a reason rich Russians 
have their money outside Russia.

Inequality can go to infinity and people yet become wealthier (imagine 
if everybody got ten times wealthier in real terms - or had their wealth 
exponentiated). What matters is how wealth scales as social power.

That property rights are not as stable as they should be in many places 
is true, but look at economic growth rates. One of the best ways of 
wrecking your growth rate is to destabilize property rights, and 
economies that take off long-term (rather than just because of raw 
materials or industrializing from a low level) all have firm property 
rights. I would hence predict that the places where brain emulation is 
successful will not be the kleptocracies.

> But the politics is straying away from the technical problems. I doubt
> if uploads are feasible if they depend on a rack of servers running in
> the Googleplex. Powerful uploads will require resources under their
> own control, not dependant on a power failure or someone hitting the
> OFF button. This probably means much more advanced technology, perhaps
> nanoscale processors in space utilizing solar / nuclear power.
Living in space means enormous communications lags. I actually think my 
webpages are safer up in the Swedish data center (run by skilled 
personell, with backups and reliable power) than on my desktop computer 
(run by an amateur). One can do clever things with homomorphic 
encryption and trusted computing that likely can keep your processor 
under your control, and your mind-code unavailable to pirates and nosy 

But yeah, software security is physical security to uploads.

> Looks to me like uploads will be for the very rich only, each in their
> own virtual empire in space.

This depends on how scanning cost and computing cost scales. If scanning 
is expensive compared to computing, then there will be few different 
minds but they could run many of copies. So after the first crazy test 
subjects you get rich uploads, who presumably do not want to copy too 
much. But sooner or later you will get a widely copied worker upload, 
and then things get very different. If computing is expensive, then 
there will be few copies and the wealthy will dominate... as long as 
computing remains expensive. Which may not be long: given Moore's law 
timescales, if you can afford one upload now, in ten years you can run 

Space empires might be fun, but that is not how you remain wealthy. 
Wealthy people today are connected to the market, and will not 
disconnect. Rather, they would like to see more market growth since it 
will benefit their capital. Hence, I suspect they will actually invest 
in getting more people uploaded, since that is going to boost the fast 
growing part of the market. It might not be a nice altruistic 
motivation, but it is rational for them.

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

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