When the Economy Transcends Humanity

Robin Hanson:

What will our economy, workplaces, and society look like when we can copy our brains and build virtual workers to do our jobs? An economist looks at the next great era, a world dominated by robots.
What might a world full of robots as smart as humans look like? Experts in robotics and artificial intelligence have given a lot of thought to when and if such robots might appear. Most say it will happen eventually, and some say it will happen soon.
Knowing when advanced robots will appear doesn’t tell us how they will change the world. For that, we need experts in social science, like economists.
Here, I outline a scenario of what a new robot-based society might look like. Some people say I shouldn’t do this, because it’s impossible, while others just say it is unscientific. Even so, I’m doing it anyway, because it seems useful and it’s fun.
Keep in mind, however, that I’m not arguing that this scenario is good; I’m just applying basic economics to make best guesses about what things would actually be like. While most of you have probably seen movies depicting worlds with smart robots, as an economist I intend to show you we can do a lot better by using careful economic analysis. We can actually say quite a lot about this new world.