My Answers for Robin
By Bryan Caplan
Relative to tenured professors of social science who were hypothetically
given my task, and considering average accuracy relative to simple
standard academic theories, what do you estimate to be my percentile
rank in 1) overall accuracy, and 2) the number (or amount) of forecasts?
My answer: If you want to forecast the Age of Em, simple standard academic theories are not enough to even get started. The entire analysis hinges on which people get emulated, and there is absolutely no simple standard academic theory of that. If, as I’ve argued, we would copy the most robot-like people and treat them as slaves, at least 90% of Robin’s details are wrong. That’s low accuracy even by academic standards; I’d put it at the 20th percentile of overall accuracy.
However, by Robin’s second criteria – number of forecasts – he’s off the charts. I’d put him at the 99th percentile, or even the 99.9th percentile. But I wish he’d spent vastly more time getting the foundations right, or at least carefully defending his foundational assumptions against the alternatives. That’s what Robin did in his stupendous piece on futarchy in the Journal of Political Philosophy, and that’s what I wish he did in The Age of Em.