Re: To reach a Singularity (was Re: Time and Minds)

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Mon Oct 01 2001 - 09:10:34 MDT

> >My question is somewhat simpler. Is there an actual
> estimated crossover point
> >of 'operations per second' where the Singularity
> must occur? Is there a
> >calculated range where it could occur? If someone
> has estimated this level
> >of processing, what are the calculations per
> second?

A full simulation of a human brain running on a
a computer should be the upper limit to what is needed
to cause a singularity if it is possible at all.
The reason is that once you have one simulation
working at the level of a human scientist or
engineer, you can make as many copies as you want.
This increases the total available brain power
above that of the human pool of scientists and
engineers, therefore accelerating progress in
those fields. You then quickly get a runaway
acceleration in brainpower and progress.

The computer power to run a good enough simulation
of a human brain has been estimated to be anywhere
from 100 trillion flops to 100,000 trillion flops.
A top-end PC chip today can do about 2 billion flops.
You can afford to build a cluster of a few hundred
to a few thousand PCs for what you spend on a human
scientist or engineer. That will buy you a few
trillion flops right now, so you are a couple of
orders of magnitude from the lower bound. At
worst, the 5 orders of magnitude to the upper bound
will take you 25 years of Moore's Law growth,
then perhaps 5 more years to do the software once
you have the hardware, then another 5 years to
build enough copies to get the runaway feedback
going. That's around 2035 AD.

At the other end of the scale, the seed AI code
might only take as much space as the seed HI
(human intelligence) code. The part of our DNA
that specifies how the brain develops is probably
less than half of the total, say <1.6 billion
base pairs. That converts to <400 MB of software.
If you run the brain as a distributed client over
the Net, you could get the required number of
machines almost immediately. So the near term
bound on the Singularity is today.


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