And he is right to make it his example of accurate futurology, because everything else is even worse. He starts by saying that “conditional on my key assumptions, I expect at least 30% of future situations to be usefully informed by my analysis.Unconditionally, I expect at least 10%.” So he is not explicitly overconfident.When Robin Hanson tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘No way! Even the cover gives you a weird sense of sublimity mixed with unease: And in this case, judging a book by its cover is entirely appropriate. Age of Em is a work of futurism – an attempt to predict what life will be like a few generations down the road.This is not a common genre – I can’t think of another book of this depth and quality in the same niche.
“A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.” Where Watkins is right, he is generally listing a cool technology slightly beyond what was available to his time and predicting we will have it. Yet this is Hanson’s example of accurate futurology.There will be no surface-level transportation in cities as all cars and walkways have moved underground.The letters C, X, and Q will be removed from the language.But his greatest aptitude is in being really, really Hansonian. When I heard he was writing a book, I was – well, I couldn’t even imagine a book by Robin Hanson.Bryan Caplan describes it as well as anybody: When the typical economist tells me about his latest research, my standard reaction is ‘Eh, maybe.’ Then I forget about it. When you read a thousand word blog post by Robin Hanson, you have to sit down and think about it and wait for it to digest and try not to lose too much sleep worrying about it. I have now read Age Of Em (website)and it is indeed something.