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.
He believes there will be “peas as large as beets” and “strawberries as large as apples” (these are two separate predictions; he is weirdly obsessed with fruit and vegetable size).
We will travel to England via giant combination submarine/hovercrafts that will complete the trip in a lightning-fast two days.
[Note: I really liked this book and if I criticize it that’s not meant as an attack but just as what I do with interesting ideas.
Note that Robin has offered to debate me about some of this and I’ve said no – mostly because I hate real-time debates and have bad computer hardware – but you may still want to take this into account when considering our relative positions.
Watkins is classically given some credit for broadly correct ideas like “Cameras that can send pictures across the world instantly” and “telephones that can call anywhere in the world”, but of his 28 predictions, I judge only eight as even somewhat correct.
Pick up a David Hume book you’ve never read before and it’s easy to recognize the ideas and style as Humean.But there was a hard-to-define and very consistent ethos at the foundation of both. Robin Hanson is more like himself than anybody else I know. ” sometime around 2008 after reading his blog Overcoming Bias.He’s obviously brilliant – a Ph D in economics, a masters in physics, work for DARPA, Lockheed, NASA, George Mason, and the Future of Humanity Institute. Since then he’s influenced my thinking more than almost anyone else I’ve ever read.On average, these milestones tended to be passed a few years before their forecasted date, and sometimes forecasters were unaware that they had already passed (Charbonneau et al, 2013).A particularly accurate book in predicting the future was The Year 2000, a 1967 book by Herman Kahn and Anthony Wiener.Mild content warning for murder, rape, and existential horror.Errors in Part III are probably my own, not the book’s.] I.Yet participants in the Xanadu hypertext project in which I was involved from 1984 to 1993 correctly anticipated many key aspects of the Web […] Such examples show that one can use basic theory to anticipate key elements of distant future environments, both physical and social, but also that forecasters do not tend to be much rewarded for such efforts, either culturally or materially.This helps to explain why there are relatively few serious forecasting efforst.Everything Tolkien wrote is Tolkienesque in a non-tautological sense.This isn’t meant to denounce either writer as boring. They produced a range of brilliant and diverse ideas.Pneumatic tubes will deliver purchases from stores.“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.It accurately predicted population, was 80% correct for computer and communication technology, and 50% correct for other technology (Albright 2002).