human augmentation, putting it into perspective

From: Ben Houston (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 11:58:38 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
>What I'm imagining is someone, in 1850 or so, saying
>"Bird augmentation is much more promising than airplane construction. The
>starting point is way ahead of where airplane constructors are starting."

You should have stated a goal in order to qualify what was mean by "more
promising." Without stating a how you are comparing the viability of one
solution to another your conclusions are somewhat vacuous.

Brian Phillips wrote:
> Perhaps a Better analogy would be instead of
>bird augmentation...dirgible development.
> "Path-not-taken"..perhaps not ultimately as
>effective as scramjets and B-2s ....but much
>more doable with the "Civil War" tech we
>have now.

I think that is a fairly decent response. One should not be viewing this as
something that is mutually exclusive. Nor should one see either of the
multitude of paths that people are proposing can not be followed in parallel
in conjunction with lateral transfer of learning. I would not risk trying
to predict which would be more successful in the medium (ie. couple decades)
or long term (ie. centuries) - I do not value my intellect so highly. I
suspect that in the medium and long-term what we view as alternatives may
become less distinct from each other and thus this argument may be moot.

In the very near term we all must make choices on what path or paths to
pursue. The reasons for the choices are complex and full of individual
perspective and subjectivities thus I cannot judge or argue against another
choice of paths.

-ben houston

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of
Ben Goertzel
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 10:08 PM
Subject: RE: Augmenting humans is a better way

What I'm imagining is someone, in 1850 or so, saying

"Bird augmentation is much more promising than airplane construction. The
starting point is way ahead of where airplane constructors are starting."

-- Ben G

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Jack Richardson
> Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 9:46 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Augmenting humans is a better way
> Evan,
> 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,
> Jack
> ----- 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
> thousand
> > or a billion. You don't need detailed models of the brain for
> this kind
> of
> > thing - at least to start. You can begin with a "what do you
> feel when I
> do
> > this?" kind of thing and once crude dni's are working, things can take
> off.
> >
> > 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
> to
> > 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
> one.
> >
> > 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
> be
> > permitted to scale the heights; what I would call the "singularity by
> proxy"
> > path. I, for one, intend to participate DIRECTLY in the singularity. I
> > hope there are at least a few others here as well.
> >

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:37 MDT