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Robin Hanson [75]Robin D. Hanson [1]
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Profile: Robin Hanson (George Mason University)
  1.  168 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2003). When Worlds Collide: Quantum Probability From Observer Selection? [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 33 (7):1129-1150.
    In Everett's many worlds interpretation, quantum measurements are considered to be decoherence events. If so, then inexact decoherence may allow large worlds to mangle the memory of observers in small worlds, creating a cutoff in observable world size. Smaller world are mangled and so not observed. If this cutoff is much closer to the median measure size than to the median world size, the distribution of outcomes seen in unmangled worlds follows the Born rule. Thus deviations from exact decoherence can (...)
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  2.  141 DLs
    Robin Hanson, If Uploads Come First.
    What if we someday learn how to model small brain units, and so can "upload" ourselves into new computer brains? What if this happens before we learn how to make human-level artificial intelligences? The result could be a sharp transition to an upload-dominated world, with many dramatic consequences. In particular, fast and cheap replication may once again make Darwinian evolution of human values a powerful force in human history. With evolved values, most uploads would value life even when life is (...)
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  3.  103 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Burning the Cosmic Commons: Evolutionary Strategies for Interstellar Colonization.
    Attempts to model interstellar colonization may seem hopelessly compromised by uncertainties regarding the technologies and preferences of advanced civilizations. If light speed limits travel speeds, however, then a selection effect may eventually determine frontier behavior. Making weak assumptions about colonization technology, we use this selection effect to predict colonists’ behavior, including which oases they colonize, how long they stay there, how many seeds they then launch, how fast and far those seeds fly, and how behavior changes with increasing congestion. This (...)
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  4.  91 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Why Meat is Moral, and Veggies Are Immoral.
    You are in a grocery store, and thinking of buying some meat. You think you know what buying and eating this meat would mean for your taste buds, your nutrition, and your pocketbook, and let's assume that on those grounds it looks like a good deal. But now you want to think about the..
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  5.  73 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2001). How to Live in a Simulation. Journal of Evolution and Technology 7 (1).
  6.  65 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Drift–Diffusion in Mangled Worlds Quantum Mechanics.
    In Everett’s many-worlds interpretation, where quantum measurements are seen as decoherence events, inexact decoherence may let large worlds mangle the memories of observers in small worlds, creating a cutoff in observable world measure. I solve a growth–drift–diffusion–absorption model of such a mangled worlds scenario, and show that it reproduces the Born probability rule closely, though not exactly. Thus, inexact decoherence may allow the Born rule to be derived in a many-worlds approach via world counting, using a finite number of worlds (...)
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  7.  50 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Fear of Death and Muddled Thinking – It Is So Much Worse Than You Think.
    Humans clearly have trouble thinking about death. This trouble is often used to explain behavior like delay in writing wills or buying life insurance, or interest in odd medical and religious beliefs. But the problem is far worse than most people imagine. Fear of death makes us spend fifteen percent of our income on medicine, from which we get little or no health benefit, while we neglect things like exercise, which offer large health benefits.
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  8.  48 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Is a Singularity Just Around the Corner?
    Economic growth is determined by the supply and demand of investment capital; technology determines the demand for capital, while human nature determines the supply. The supply curve has two distinct parts, giving the world economy two distinct modes. In the familiar slow growth mode, rates of return are limited by human discount rates. In the fast growth mode, investment is limited by the world's wealth. Historical trends suggest that we may transition to the fast mode in roughly another century and (...)
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  9.  48 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Logarithmic Market Scoring Rules for Modular Combinatorial Information Aggregation.
    In practice, scoring rules elicit good probability estimates from individuals, while betting markets elicit good consensus estimates from groups. Market scoring rules combine these features, eliciting estimates from individuals or groups, with groups costing no more than individuals. Regarding a bet on one event given another event, only logarithmic versions preserve the probability of the given event. Logarithmic versions also preserve the conditional probabilities of other events, and so preserve conditional independence relations. Given logarithmic rules that elicit relative probabilities of (...)
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  10.  48 DLs
    Robin Hanson, The Great Filter - Are We Almost Past It?
    Humanity seems to have a bright future, i.e., a non-trivial chance of expanding to fill the universe with lasting life. But the fact that space near us seems dead now tells us that any given piece of dead matter faces an astronomically low chance of begating such a future. There thus exists a great filter between death and expanding lasting life, and humanity faces the ominous question: how far along this filter are we?
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  11.  30 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Was Cypher Right?: Why We Stay In Our Matrix.
    The Matrix is a story of AIs who keep humans as slaves, by keeping them in a dream world, and of rebels who fight to teach people this truth and destroy this dream world. But we humans are today slaves to alien hyper-rational entities who care little about us, and who distract us with a dream world. We do not want to know this truth, and if anything fight to preserve our dream world. Go figure.
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  12.  27 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Making Sense of Medical Paternalism.
    Why do we regulate the substances we can ingest, the advisors we can hear, and the products we can buy far more than similarly-important non-health choices? I review many possible arguments for such paternalistic policies, as well many possible holes in such arguments. I argue we should either be clearer about what justifies our paternalism, or we should back off and be less paternalistic.
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  13.  26 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2009). Enhancing Our Truth Orientation. In Julian Savulescu & Nick Bostrom (eds.), Human Enhancement. OUP Oxford 357--372.
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  14.  25 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence.
    A simple exogenous growth model gives conservative estimates of the economic implications of machine intelligence. Machines complement human labor when they become more productive at the jobs they perform, but machines also substitute for human labor by taking over human jobs. At first, expensive hardware and software does only the few jobs where computers have the strongest advantage over humans. Eventually, computers do most jobs. At first, complementary effects dominate, and human wages rise with computer productivity. But eventually substitution can (...)
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  15.  21 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Book Orders for Market Scoring Rules.
    This explains how to smoothly integrate booked orders with a combinatorial market maker, all for the general case of bets on E[x|A] for arbitrary random variables x and sets A.
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  16.  19 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2002). Why Health is Not Special: Errors in Evolved Bioethics Intuitions. Social Philosophy and Policy 19 (2):153-179.
    There is a widespread feeling that health is special; the rules that are usually used in other policy areas are not applied in health policy. Health economists, for example, tend to be reluctant to offer economists’ usual prescription of competition and consumer choice, even though they have largely failed to justify this reluctance by showing that health economics involves special features such as public goods, externalities, adverse selection, poor consumer information, or unusually severe consequences. Similarly, while some philosophers argue for (...)
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  17.  19 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Showing That You Care: The Evolution of Health Altruism.
    Human behavior regarding medicine seems strange; assumptions and models that seem workable in other areas seem less so in medicine. Perhaps we need to rethink the basics. Toward this end, I have collected many puzzling stylized facts about behavior regarding medicine, and have sought a small number of simple assumptions which might together account for as many puzzles as possible.
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  18.  19 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Has Penrose Disproved A.I.?
    Being read is not the same as being believed. Most reviewers have praised the book as original, well-written, thought-provoking, etc., and then gone on to take issue with one or more of Penrose's main theses. Penrose seems unfamiliar with the existing literature in cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and AI. The handful of reviewers who agree with Penrose don't seem to have paid much attention to his specific arguments - they always thought AI was bogus. See, for example, the 37 (...)
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  19.  18 DLs
    Robin Hanson, On Market Maker Functions.
    Since market scoring rules have become popular as a form of market maker, it seems worth reviewing just what such mechanisms are intended to do. The main function performed by most market makers is to serve as an intermediary between people who prefer to trade at different times. Traders who have the same favorite times to trade can show up together to an ordinary continuous double auction, and then make and accept offers to trade. But when traders have different favorite (...)
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  20.  17 DLs
    Robin Hanson, An Experimental Test of Combinatorial Information Markets.
    While a simple information market lets one trade on the probability of each value of a single variable, a full combinatorial information market lets one trade on any combination of values of a set of variables, including any conditional or joint probability. In laboratory experiments, we compare the accuracy of simple markets, two kinds of combinatorial markets, a call market and a market maker, isolated individuals who report to a scoring rule, and two ways to combine those individual reports into (...)
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  21.  17 DLs
    Tyler Cowen & Robin Hanson (forthcoming). Are Disagreements Honest. Journal of Economic Methodology.
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  22.  16 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Foul Play in Information Markets.
    People have long noticed that speculative markets, though created for other purposes, also do a great job of aggregating relevant information. In fact, it is hard to find information not embodied by such market prices. This is, in part, because anyone who finds such neglected information can profit by trading on it, thereby reducing the neglect.1 So far, speculative markets have done well in every known head-to-head field comparison with other forecasting institutions. Orange juice futures improved on National Weather Service (...)
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  23.  15 DLs
    Robin Hanson, A Manipulator Can Aid Prediction Market Accuracy.
    Prediction markets are low volume speculative markets whose prices offer informative forecasts on particular policy topics. Observers worry that traders may attempt to mislead decision makers by manipulating prices. We adapt a Kyle-style market microstructure model to this case, adding a manipulator with an additional quadratic preference regarding the price. In this model, when other traders are uncertain about the manipulator’s target price, the mean target price has no effect on prices, and increases in the variance of the target price (...)
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  24.  15 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Catastrophe, Social Collapse, and Human Extinction.
    Humans have slowly built more productive societies by slowly acquiring various kinds of capital, and by carefully matching them to each other. Because disruptions can disturb this careful matching, and discourage social coordination, large disruptions can cause a “social collapse,” i.e., a reduction in productivity out of proportion to the disruption. For many types of disasters, severity seems to follow a power law distribution. For some of types, such as wars and earthquakes, most of the expected harm is predicted to (...)
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  25.  15 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Adverse Selection In Group Insurance: The Virtues of Failing to Represent Voters.
    Compared with non-union workers, union workers take more of their compensation in the form of insurance. This may be because unions choose democratically, and democratic choice mitigates adverse selection in group insurance. Relative to individually-purchased insurance, we show that group insurance chosen by an ideal profit-maximizing employer can be worse for every employee, while group insurance chosen democratically can be much better. The reason is that democracy can fail to represent the preferences of almost half the group.
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  26.  15 DLs
    Robin Hanson, The Economics of Brain Emulations.
    Technologists think about specific future technologies, which they may foresee in some detail. Unfortunately, such technologists then mostly use amateur intuitions about the social world to predict the broader social implications of these technologies. This makes it hard for technologists to identify the technologies which will have the largest social impact.
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  27.  14 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Long-Term Growth As A Sequence of Exponential Modes.
    A world product time series covering two million years is well fit by either a sum of four exponentials, or a constant elasticity of substitution (CES) combination of three exponential growth modes: “hunting,” “farming,” and “industry.” The CES parameters suggest that farming substituted for hunting, while industry complemented farming, making the industrial revolution a smoother transition. Each mode grew world product by a factor of a few hundred, and grew a hundred times faster than its predecessor. This weakly suggests that (...)
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  28.  13 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2003). For Bayesian Wannabes, Are Disagreements Not About Information? Theory and Decision 54 (2):105-123.
    Consider two agents who want to be Bayesians with a common prior, but who cannot due to computational limitations. If these agents agree that their estimates are consistent with certain easy-to-compute consistency constraints, then they can agree to disagree about any random variable only if they also agree to disagree, to a similar degree and in a stronger sense, about an average error. Yet average error is a state-independent random variable, and one agent's estimate of it is also agreed to (...)
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  29.  13 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2013). Shall We Vote on Values, But Bet on Beliefs? Journal of Political Philosophy 21 (2):151-178.
    Policy disputes arise at all scales of governance: in clubs, non-profits, firms, nations, and alliances of nations. Both the means and ends of policy are disputed. While many, perhaps most, policy disputes arise from conflicting ends, important disputes also arise from differing beliefs on how to achieve shared ends. In fact, according to many experts in economics and development, governments often choose policies that are “inefficient” in the sense that most everyone could expect to gain from other feasible policies. Many (...)
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  30.  13 DLs
    Robin Hanson (2006). Uncommon Priors Require Origin Disputes. Theory and Decision 61 (4):319-328.
    In standard belief models, priors are always common knowledge. This prevents such models from representing agents’ probabilistic beliefs about the origins of their priors. By embedding standard models in a larger standard model, however, pre-priors can describe such beliefs. When an agent’s prior and pre-prior are mutually consistent, he must believe that his prior would only have been different in situations where relevant event chances were different, but that variations in other agents’ priors are otherwise completely unrelated to which events (...)
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  31.  13 DLs
    David Porter & Robin Hanson, Can Manipulators Mislead Market Observers?
    We study experimental markets where privately informed traders exchange simple assets, and where uninformed third parties are asked to forecast the values of these assets, guided only by market prices. Although prices only partially aggregate information, they significantly improve the forecasts of third parties. In a second treatment, a portion of traders are given preferences over the forecasts made by observers. Although we find evidence that these traders attempt to manipulate prices in order to influence the beliefs of observers, we (...)
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  32.  11 DLs
    Robin Hanson & David Youngberg, Forager Facts.
    We are economists with a long-standing interest in evolutionary psychology, who recently came to appreciate the rich collections of relevant data cultural anthropologists have spent decades collecting on the social environments of a wide range of human societies. While we found some systematic collections of these observations, we could not find a systematic summary of the social environment of the subsample of societies that most resemble the social environment where most human psychology seems to have evolved: small bands of nomadic (...)
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  33.  11 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Super-Resolved Surface Reconstruction From Multiple Images.
    This paper describes a Bayesian method for constructing a super-resolved surface model by combining information from a set of images of the given surface. We develop the theory and algorithms in detail for the 2-D reconstruction problem, appropriate for the case where all images are taken from roughly the same direction and under similar lighting conditions. We show the results of this 2-D reconstruction on Viking Martian data. These results show dramatic improvements in both spatial and gray-scale resolution. The Bayesian (...)
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  34.  10 DLs
    Robin Hanson (1998). Consensus By Identifying Extremists. Theory and Decision 44 (3):293-301.
    Given a finite state space and common priors, common knowledge of the identity of an agent with the minimal (or maximal) expectation of a random variable implies ‘consensus’, i.e., common knowledge of common expectations. This ‘extremist’ statistic induces consensus when repeatedly announced, and yet, with n agents, requires at most log2 n bits to broadcast.
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  35.  10 DLs
    Robin Hanson (1995). Appendix. Comparing Peer Review and Information Prizes: A Possible Economics Experiment. Social Epistemology 9 (1):49-55.
    Heavy reliance is currently placed on various forms of peer review to promote the growth of basic knowledge [1]. How well do these various forms of peer review promote such growth and how well do our current institutions compare, as systems of incentives and communication, with the many alternative mechanisms used by different cultures across the centuries? Many of these alternatives, such as simple prizes, rely much less on peer review.
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  36.  10 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Even Adversarial Agents Should Appear to Agree.
    Descriptors: coordination, autonomy, actions, beliefs Abstract Distributing authority among autonomous agents can induce inconsistency costs if the agents act as if they disagree. If we define an agent’s “marginal beliefs” to be the odds at which it is willing to make bets, we find that a betting market can induce agents to act as if they almost agree, not only with respect to the bets they offer but also other actions they take. In a particular “Mars mining” scenario, I explicitly (...)
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  37.  10 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Information Aggregation and Manipulation in an Experimental Market.
    Prediction markets are increasingly being considered as methods for gathering, summarizing and aggregating diffuse information by governments and businesses alike. Critics worry that these markets are susceptible to price manipulation by agents who wish to distort decision making. We study the effect of manipulators on an experimental market, and find that manipulators are unable to distort price accuracy. Subjects without manipulation incentives compensate for the bias in offers from manipulators by setting a different threshold at which they are willing to (...)
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  38.  9 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Bayesian Classification Theory.
    Artificial Intelligence Research Branch NASA Ames Research Center, Mail Stop 244-17 Moffet Field, CA 94035, USA Email: @ptolemy.arc.nasa.gov..
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  39.  9 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Eliciting Objective Probabilities Via Lottery Insurance Games.
    Since utilities and probabilities jointly determine choices, event-dependent utilities complicate the elicitation of subjective event probabilities. However, for the usual purpose of obtaining the information embodied in agent beliefs, it is sufficient to elicit objective probabilities, i.e., probabilities obtained by updating a known common prior with that agent’s further information. Bayesians who play a Nash equilibrium of a certain insurance game before they obtain relevant information will afterward act regarding lottery ticket payments as if they had event-independent risk-neutral utility and (...)
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  40.  9 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Isagreement is Unpredictable.
    Given common priors, no agent can publicly estimate a non-zero sign for the difference between his estimate and another agent’s future estimate. Thus rational agents cannot publicly anticipate the direction in which other agents will disagree with them.  2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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  41.  9 DLs
    Robin Hanson, The Next Really Big Enormous Thing.
    A postcard summary of life, the universe and everything might go as follows. The universe appeared and started expanding. Life appeared somewhere and then on Earth began making larger and smarter animals. Humans appeared and became smarter and more numerous, by inventing language, farming, industry, and computers.
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  42.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, He Who Pays The Piper Must Know The Tune.
    He who pays the piper calls the tune, but he can only succesfully call for a tune that he will recognize upon hearing. Previous models, of two candidates impressing a voter and of firm managers impressing stock speculators, found experts ignoring costly superior information in favor of client preconceptions. Similar result hold when we greatly generalize the agents, choices, information structures, and preferences. When experts must pay to acquire information, have no intrinsic interest in client topics, and can coordinate to (...)
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  43.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Combinatorial Information Market Design.
    Department of Economics, George Mason University, MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030, USA E-mail: rhanson@gmu.edu (http://hanson.gmu.edu).
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  44.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, When Do Extraordinary Claims Give Extraordinary Evidence?
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But on uninteresting topics, surprising claims usually are surprising evidence; we rarely make claims without suffi- cient evidence. On interesting topics, however, we can have interests in exaggerating or downplaying our evidence, and our actions often deviate from our interests. In a simple model of noisy humans reporting on extraordinary evidence, we find that extraordinary claims from low noise people are extraordinary evidence, but such claims from high noise people are not; their claims are more (...)
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  45.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Causes of Confidence in Conflict.
    In a simple model of conflict, two agents fight over a fixed prize, and how hard they fight depends on what they believe about their abilities. To this model I add “preagents,” representing parents, leaders, or natural selection, who choose each agent’s confidence in his ability. Depending on the reason for such confidence, I find five different patterns in how confidence varies with ability. Agents who estimate their ability with error have under-confidence when ability is high and over-confidence when ability (...)
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  46.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Warning Labels as Cheap-Talk: Why Regulators Ban Drugs.
    One explanation for drug bans is that regulators know more than consumers about product quality. But why not just communicate the information in their ban, perhaps via a “would have banned” label?Because product labeling is cheap-talk, any small market failure tempts regulators to lie about quality, inducing consumers who suspect such lies to not believe everything they are told. In fact, when regulators expect market failures to result in under-consumption of a drug, and so would not ban it for informed (...)
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  47.  8 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Can Manipulators Mislead Market Observers?
    We study experimental markets where privately informed traders exchange simple assets, and where uninformed third parties are asked to forecast the values of these assets, guided only by market prices. Although prices only partially aggregate information, they significantly improve the forecasts of third parties. In a second treatment, a portion of traders are given preferences over the forecasts made by observers. Although we find evidence that these traders attempt to manipulate prices in order to influence the beliefs of observers, we (...)
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  48.  7 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Encouraging an Honest Consensus.
    Are you fascinated by some basic questions about science, technology, and our future? Questions like: Is cryonics technically feasible? When will nanoassemblers be feasible and how quickly will resulting changes come? Does a larger population help or hinder the world environment and economy? Will uploading be possible, and if so when? When can I live in space? Where will I be able to live free from tyranny? When will A.I.s be bucking for my job? Is there intelligent life beyond earth? (...)
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  49.  7 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Is Fairness About Clear Fitness Signals?
    Even outside of games, a wide range of otherwise puzzling common intuitions about fairness can be understood if the fundamental "game" of life is seen as wooing, i.e., attracting mates by showing that you have fit genes. The fairest social institutions are then those in which success correlates as much as possible with genetic fitness.
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  50.  7 DLs
    Robin Hanson, Toward Hypertext Publishing.
    Hypertext publishing, the integration of a large body (perhaps billions) of public writings into a unified hypertext environment, will require the simultaneous solution of problems involving very wide database distribution, royalties, freedom of speech, and privacy. This paper describes these problems and presents, for criticism and discussion, an abstract design which seems to solve many of them. This design, called LinkText, is presented both as a specification and as design approaches grouped around various levels of electronic publishing.
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