RE: Why bother (was Re: Introducing myself)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Apr 07 2002 - 10:22:23 MDT

> >From everything I have read here and elsewhere, the Singularity
> seems to be
> coming along rather nicely without your efforts. So why do you think this
> special project is required?

I think your statement is partly a variant on a common paradox.

Another variant of this paradox is: "Why vote? If I don't vote, who cares,
I'm just one among very many voters." But yet if everyone thought that
way, the election wouldn't happen.

Similarly, it's true that if Eliezer or I or any other one individual or
small group stopped working on Singularity-focused technology, the
Singularity would still happen. But yet, if *everyone* took this to heart
and hence stopped making efforts, the Singularity *wouldn't* happen.
Because the Singularity is composed of the sum total of loads of individual
efforts like ours.

That said, it's also true that in some cases individuals can make big
differences in tech and sci. development. This is because, in life as in
music, timing is important.

For instance, if not for Tesla, AC would have been developed -- but when?
Perhaps Edison's DC would have ended up wiring half the US before someone
else developed AC. If Salk hadn't come along, the vaccines he developed
would very likely have been developed by others, but many individuals would
have died in the interim. Etc. On the more negative side, it could be that
if a couple fewer scientists had joined the atom-bomb-building project in
the US, the bomb wouldn't have been finished until after WWII was done, and
so it never would have been used.

Eliezer knows the Singularity will happen without him. But he considers it
possible (perhaps even likely) that his efforts will cause it to come
significantly *faster*, and/or to have a *better outcome.* This seems to me
enough reason for him to devote his life to it.

We all need to find meaning in life somewhere, and this seems a better
place than many alternatives I've seen.

-- Ben G

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:38 MDT