Re: Augmenting humans is a better way

From: Jack Richardson (
Date: Fri Jul 27 2001 - 19:46:16 MDT


Having written the original post advocating a consideration of human
augmentation as a possible better alternative, I'm pleased to see the point
being made that today's concentrated activity, primarily for medical
reasons, to learn how to augment humans is preparing the way to human
participation in the onset of the Singularity.

No doubt, as Ben has pointed out, there are many technical problems to be
solved along the way, but the starting point is way ahead of where a seed AI
approach is starting. Progress in the area of human augmentation will take
many forms and likely will involve thousands of steps. But it will be very
measureable and we will know, from year to year, just how much progress is
being made. I'm not so sure the same will be true of the seed AI approach.

Furthermore, as a group of humans most interested in this development, I
would argue that most of us would want to ensure that we were all active
participants in the experiences the Singularity would make available to us.
It may be true that the Singularity might leave us all behind anyway, but I
would like to think that we could construct it in such a way that augmenting
humans would be its primary task. If we were fairly far along at the time of
onset, that would make its task that much easier.

Best wishes on joining the group,


----- Original Message -----
From: Evan Reese <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007 9:08 AM
Subject: Re: augmenting humans is difficult and slow...

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ben Houston" <>
> To: <>; "'Michael Korns'" <>
> Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2001 6:07 AM
> Subject: augmenting humans is difficult and slow... Hi...
> >
> > Just did a talk on augmenting humans through direct brain interfaces --
> > my degree is cognitive science / neuroscience so I have a little of the
> > requisite knowledge in this area. It seems very likely that we can do a
> > lot by making little additions or regulatory changes but it will not be
> > that easy.
> >
> > The technology to read from individual neurons within chronic
> > implantations is here. I have not yet read of any major successes in
> > long-term artificial stimulation of individual neurons -- but that's
> > just an engineering problem and just give it time. This stuff doesn't
> > really require esoteric nanotechnology, magical quantum interfaces but
> > just electrical current readings of the relevant neurons. In other
> > words, the technology for making the bidirectional connections is not
> > major limiting factor.
> >
> > What is the problem is figuring out what exactly will make us smarter
> > and how to integrate that in to our existing brain architecture. It's
> > not as simple as adding more memory -- there is tons of different types
> > of memory in the brain and they are highly distributed very connected
> > with the computations being preformed. Also there are a lot of
> > calibration problems that have to be overcome if we would like to be
> > able to recognize meaningful patterns in the brain.
> Of course, if you can interface one human, then you can do it to a
> or a billion. You don't need detailed models of the brain for this kind
> thing - at least to start. You can begin with a "what do you feel when I
> this?" kind of thing and once crude dni's are working, things can take
> It is certainly a hell of a lot more interesting than this uninspired
> fear-based seed AI thing. The really neat part about the evolutionary
> approach - and why it will nullify the seed AI approach is that you don't
> have to ask for resources to fund it, or try to recruit people to work on
> it. It's happening all by itself; most people are not - and need never
> know, and probably wouldn't care if they did - that they are contributing
> the singularity. The resources of the evolutionary singularity are truly
> vast and rapidly getting vaster. And as others have pointed out, the
> evolutionary path begins with many of what are generally considered the
> "hard problems" solved, whereas the AI people have to start from square
> There's a lot more to be said on this subject, but I'm busy with moving
> currently - to Pasadena, perhaps I'll meet some of you in Southern
Calif. -
> so I'll close for now. But I'll be more talkative when I get established
> there. (I haven't even written a "join" post yet." It needs to be
> emphasized that there other paths - more inspired and inspiring ones - to
> the singularity than the imho cringing one proposed by the Institute of
> building an AI and - if everything works out as hoped - maybe humans will
> permitted to scale the heights; what I would call the "singularity by
> path. I, for one, intend to participate DIRECTLY in the singularity. I
> hope there are at least a few others here as well.

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