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Ep. 461: Robin Hanson Interview with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

Robin Hanson
Robin Hanson

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Michael takes a sci-fi journey on today’s podcast as he interviews Robin Hanson. Robin is professor of economics at George Mason University and his new book is, “The Age of EM.” Robin and Michael look forward about 100 years and analyze what the world will look like.

They start the podcast discussing singularity and what it will be like when robots take over. Michael asks, “How much time will it take to get to singularity and are there faster ways that we may get to this point?” Robin says that robots are a staple of where the future is headed. There are a few different schools of thought on how they will evolve but Robin’s theory is based on porting. In a nutshell, this means that you re-write old software to fit your new criteria. The idea is to do the same thing with the human brain. Robin goes into detail on this idea and says that it may take as little as one century to unfold.

Next, Robin discusses the types of people that will start out being emulated. The first will be top intellectuals of the time. After some years that will expand to other types of humans. Robin says that the economy will boom and double in size quickly. He also expands on “Em cities”, what they are, how they are created, and how they are run. “Em’s” is the term Robin uses for emulation robots.

Michael brings up the effects this next reality will have on mother nature and Em sex. Em’s live in a virtual reality. They never have pain or disease. They have perfect bodies and just have sex for recreational purposes. However, they do not last forever. Em’s will have to retire eventually because of software rot which Robin gives examples of and expands on.

Next, Michael asks about the political ramifications of robots entering the work space. Will Em’s run for politics? Robin says that they will most likely be involved in politics because they would never want to be run by people that are not nearly as fast and smart as them. He then expands on what the bodies of Em’s will look like. He describes the different shapes and sizes that Em’s are going to employ. This leads to the question of death. “Will Em’s be afraid of death?” Robin says that they probably wont see it coming.

Many people, when they look at the future, like to discuss what will happen. There is a degree at which our future can be influenced but to a large degree it is out of our control. Technology has been out of control for awhile. There are such varied interests among people that it will not matter if one group wants to move forward with Emulations or not. Things will continuously evolve. Michael and Robin end on how the political system will be run in the Em world.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Singularity
  • Robots taking over
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Slavery
  • Reversible computing
  • Virtual reality
  • Future of politics
  • Democracy in the future

“As an economist and a social scientist I often analyze the world as if nobody is in charge. As if it is not a matter of people voting on it, it is a matter of people doing lots of little things in local self interest that end up accumulating into the net effect that we all see.” – Robin Hanson

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Ep. 430: The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio
The Mob Rules with Michael Covel on Trend Following Radio

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Michael Covel starts the discussion off with Mark Zuckerberg and the virtual reality realm we are entering. There is now an infamous picture of Mark Zuckerberg walking down an aisle with a huge audience behind him hooked up to helmets. All audience members are in a virtual reality. Michael bridges the gap between speculative follies of the past, with the virtual reality bubble we are about to embark on.

David Harding and James Holmes wrote a book titled, “The Pit and the Pendulum: A Menagerie of Speculative Follies.” Michael reads an excerpt from the book, giving a historical narrative about how people have behaved over the centuries. People always get excited about something new, and that “something new” historically always seems to crater and crash. The chapter Michael reads from is titled “Basking in an Indian Summer: The Bombay Share Mania of 1865.” The excerpt relates to cotton exports during the American Civil War. Bombay saw massive profits in cotton and silver due to cotton exports being halted in America during the war. Due to the boom in the economy Bombay saw huge expansion in their commercial sectors. Investors were only focused on the short term rather than long term.

When the American Civil War ended the Indian economy hit depression. Banks went bankrupt and the housing market crashed. The Bombay commercial world went totally bust. This is only one of many speculative examples that are in “The Pit and The Pendulum.” History always repeats itself. All speculative follies go down the same path. The only difference is the name or market caught up in the mania. Whether it be technology, cotton, or tulips, it’s all the same. How do you protect yourself from the next big mania? Educate yourself and have a strategy in place.

In this episode of Trend Following Radio:

  • Bombay cotton market 1865
  • Bubbles and mania
  • Profiting from the speculation
  • Having a plan in place

“All speculative follies go down the same path. The players involved look the same. They act the same. They talk to same. The only thing that is different are the names. It’s always a new technology. It’s always an innovation.” – Michael Covel

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