Re: Uploaded memories

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 08 Dec 1999 13:55:18 -0500

Anders Sandberg wrote:
>... The solar system might be colonised by a huge explosion
>of nanotech conversion, computronium-building and upload-copying, but
>once this has reached its inflexion point other activities will likely
>take over. This explosion would at the same time be competitive for
>all the resources, and likely post-economical in the sense that the
>huge amount of resources becoming accessible would likely make each
>individual richer and richer unless they multiplied faster than the
>econosystem could grow.

Yes, the question is whether the population growth rate is faster or slower than the total economic growth rate. For the last few hundred years it has been slower, mainly because economic doubling times (every 15 years) have exceeded the the speed at which humans can produce highly trained children. For many millenia before that however economic doubling times (every 900 years) were much less than feasible population doubling times, and so incomes were near subsistence levels. With uploads, feasible copying rates would again exceed feasible economic doubling times (even if that was 1 year), and so I predict a return to Mathusian type equilibria.

>Now, I'm of the opinion that even in Robin's scenario it doesn't make
>much sense to endlessly copy oneself for the colonisation effort -
>most of it will be easily managed routine, requiring relatively few
>uploads. Where a lot of uploads would be necessary is the complex,
>growing areas of human activities (such as lawyers and
>consultants). But here the economics doesn't have to grow as fast, it
>is really a balance between values and economics - it could explode
>(there are so many lawyers that everybody needs one - even the lawyers
>themselves) but it could also (and I believe this is more likely)
>diversify into an evolutionary radiation into the new resources, where
>the distribution of resources would be less competitive.

I'm not sure I understand you, but it seems that you are saying that future economies will have less demand for intelligent labor, such as humans and uploads can provide. I think this is pretty unlikely.

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