[JOIN] Darin Sunley's Join Message

From: Darin Sunley (rsunley@escape.ca)
Date: Wed Feb 28 2001 - 17:24:06 MST

Hello all. This is my join message.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree. I majored in Computer Science and
Philosophy. I'm currently applying to go back to school in september to take
an additional 2 year degree to become a high school teacher in those

My area of specialization in Computer Science was Artificial Intelligence.
Which means I took a half course in Machine Learning, a half course in
Expert Systems, and two half courses in more general stuff like planning
algorithms. It was during this time that E. published CaTAI for the first
time. Paying attention in class was a little trickier after that :)

As a result of these studies, I developed a pretty fair idea of the the
artificial intelligence community thinks "learning" means for computers.
This fall I took a couple of elective courses from the Faculty of Education
and tried to figure out what "learning" means when people do it.

They aren't even close. :)

If I have any ambitions regarding helping in the design of a transhuman AI,
it's to learn enough about learning and cognitive development to actually be
able to create a computer program that can "learn" in some sense even
vaguely similar to the way humans "learn".

You could well ask why, having a degree in Computer Science, I don't get a
job in that field. I find that, while having successfully graduated and
having maintained reasonable grades, my interest in computers is much
broader then any plausible career in information technology or computer
programming could realistically sustain. The information sector of our
economy rewards intense specialization of skills to a much greater degree
then I personally find palatable. I have always seen myself as something of
a generalist, maintaining a considerable but by no means exhaustive level of
expertise in a wider array of fields.

Plus, as bizarre as this sounds for a CompSci grad, I just really don't like
working with computer networks. :) Maybe it's an aesthetic or something, but
they just feel somehow, I don't even know the right word for it... empty. I
know many people who have a passionate love for networking technologies,
protocols, routers, etc. I just can't do that.

On the other hand I try to talk to them about neural architectures, or
wargames, or air traffic control simulations, and their eyes just glaze
right over. So I guess it takes all kinds.

In terms of Shock Levels, I'm probably a middling SL3. My first exposure to
any speculations about singularity-type ideas was in Heinlein's Expanded
Universe, where he laid out a view of the future as an exponential curve,
but my first real exposure to what that would /really/ mean came from E.'s
Staring into the Singularity, which I found as a link from Anders Sandberg's
Transhumanism page. I can't even remember how I got there. All I remember is
a distinct sensation of having my eyes blown through the back of head. Just
like the first time I read Asimov's "The Last Question."

Hmmm. That went on for a little longer then I was planning it to. Oh well. I
don't think it's particularly boring and anyways bandwidth is cheap :)
I'll probably be mostly lurking here, the way I do on the Extropians list.
It's a little strange, actually. I know so much more about most of these
vaguely esoteric topics then the people I know in real life, but when I come
on the internet and hang out in channels like this it's like I have almost
nothing to contribute. Everything I know about ultratech I learned from
these pages, and these forums, and these people.

Learning is Good.
Darin Sunley

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