Re: Alpha-Point computing

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 06:16:24 MST

Paul Hughes wrote:
> To anyone who knows:
> Alpha-Point computing. What is it?

If you wait for the Big Crunch (now postponed indefinitely by today's
astrophysicists, it seems) and use the asymptotic increase in energy
density to perform an infinite number of computing operations in a finite
amount of time, that's "Omega Point" computing. This does make certain
unproven assumptions about the laws of physics, i.e., you can keep
subdividing space past the Planck length and so on. It also assumes a Big
Crunch, while the current universe appears to be open.

"Alpha Point" computing is if you spawn off a new universe and perform an
infinite (or, at a bare minimum, an astronomically large) number of
computations during the infinite (or astronomically large) energy
densities of that universe's Big Bang. "Alpha Line" computing, a term
coined by yours truly, is if you transfer your computing patterns to yet
another universe as soon as the first one starts to cool down, and so on.
An Alpha Line could also refer to a larger set of universes spawned by an
Alpha-Point-based civilization that needed to reproduce exponentially
rather than just hopping from one universe to another.

One would expect that well-designed Alpha Point universe would be
maximally massive and would have minimal expansion speed, and thus, would
probably recollapse almost immediately. If one of the spawned Universes
malfunctions due to some weird "inflation" scenario, then instead of
recollapsing immediately as expected, it might end up expanding and
cooling to form galaxies, stars, habitable planets, and civilizations that
go through their own Singularities and start their own Alpha Lines; if so,
the hierarchy of Alpha Lines forms an Alpha Family.

This doesn't require sloppy superintelligences - you would only need an
infinitesimal proportion of malfunctioning universes to get a very large
Alpha Family. Even if an Alpha Line just hops from universe to universe
instead of reproducing, our own universe has seen roughly 10^60 Planck
instants go past since the dawn of time, and I doubt a universe works very
well for Alpha Point computing after cooling past the Planck time, so our
Parent Alpha Line would have spawned at least another 10^60 universes
since our own Socrates Universe was born and discarded as unsuitable due
to a cosmological constant beyond engineering tolerances.

None of this is provable, but what the heck, it's fun.

Incidentally, I first named our home space the "Socrates Universe" in a
discussion of Alpha Lines on the Extropian mailing list, and as far as I
know, it was the first time anyone ever needed to come up with a name.
Who knows, maybe someday it'll become official.

Meanwhile, please remember that your full address is:

Your Name
Your Street Address
[Your City/State/Zip Code]
Your Country
Milky Way
Local Group
Virgo Supercluster
Socrates Universe

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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