Re: Corporate Uploads Take Over

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Fri Jul 14 2000 - 13:33:39 MDT

I wrote:
> Hardware and upload compilation will become cheap enough to
> profitably run uploads for lower than then-current wages when
> human labor is still highly valued (i.e., before strong AI),
> and substantially before most individuals can afford to
> non-destructively upload themselves.
>Given this premise, most first uploads would be corporate projects,
>and such uploads would have a first-mover advantage in filling niches.
>Either question the premise, question that the conclusion follows from the
>premise, or accept the conclusion.

Robert Bradbury responded:
>Objection (1) is the statement "will become cheap enough". ...
>The question is *when* will the hardware and compilation become
>cheap enough?. Will the rate of advancement of those technologies
>exceed the probable decline in augmented human labor costs?
>If not, then the argument fails.

Wages have been rising for centuries, and computer costs have been
falling rapidly for decades. The ability to augment humans should just
make wages even higher, and most augmentations of humans should also
be able to augment uploads. How could you possibly think that wages
would fall faster than computer costs without widespread uploads or AI?

>All you need is the greens convincing people that "services
>provided by *real* people" are better" and you are in a situation
>where the market demand for upload slave labor goes soft.

This is crazy. Why don't people solve other problems by just
convincing everyone to prefer third world labor, rain forest labor,
disabled labor, animal labor, or "socialist" labor?

Because people aren't that pliable. They like goods and services,
and don't care that much where they come from. Racism or do-gooding
can change things on a few margins, but when you can hire a human for
$50K/yr, or an upload for $500/yr, all the green preaching in the world
isn't going to hold back the tide.

>If you do a copyload with pre-nanotech, you have to have a high
>confidence level you can actually make it work before human labor
>gets cheap (because living gets cheap) in a post nanotech era.

Again, I have no idea why you think human labor would get cheap
as nanotech gets better, at least without uploads or AI.

>What good do 15,000 copies of 1 accountant do me? You want copies that
>learn new skills *faster* than humans in a rapidly changing environment.

If humans are paid a lot, you just have to be as good as them to be paid
as much. Faster might be better, but isn't necessary.

>... Does the economy rapidly flip over to
>the point where corporations are negotiating deals like "I'll trade you 4000
>physicians and 3000 scriptwriters for 400 nanoengineers"? ...
>The economic bottlenecks that develop because your copies cannot be
>utilized effectively are going to diminish their value.

Rapid changes make more variance in human and upload wages, and place more
of a premium on adaptability. But I don't see the relevance of that here.

>Given the paths I see the technologies on, it seems like the development
>of mednanotech for evoloading would arrive sufficiently near enough to
>the development of an understanding for brain processes and the
>compilation of efficient hardware to execute copyloads, that you cannot
>reduce the corporate risks of copyloading projects sufficiently to
>justify the expense. ...
>If you put $1B ov VC into copyloading while $10B is going into evoloading
>... then I would say your statement is false.

Then I understood you correctly yesterday when I said:
>I think you've got unrealistic hopes (!) for a "sudden transition".
>If one day destructive uploading costs $100Bn, and the next day
>non-destructive uploading ("evoload") costs $1000, then yes there is
>more prospect for equity in terms of filling market niches ...
>But if costs fall more gradually, ...

I did anticipate this by saying "substantially before" in my premise.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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