RE: Threats to the Singularity.

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri Jun 14 2002 - 23:12:30 MDT

> It seems to me that Ray's efforts could prove immensely catalytic in
> preparing the mind-set of intelligent people in the USA and elsewhere to
> accept and embrace the Singularity prospect, making it vastly easier for
> the developers of the relevant technologies to advance without being
> crushed or ignored. I tried earlier to do the same thing with THE
> SPIKE and
> THE LAST MORTAL GENERATION, but alas simply didn't have the leverage to
> make much difference (outside Oz). In our ways, it seems to me, Kurzweil
> and I (and other writer/analyst/promoters going back to Ed Regis and
> beyond) are doing quite a lot to `make it occur' in a responsible way.
> Damien Broderick

Damien, I fully agree. There is more than one way to urge and shape the
Singularity; technical work is certainly not the only valuable path. For
one thing, books and speeches like Kurzweil's will encourage more young
people to do concrete technical Singularity-focused work! And it will put
the Singularity into the minds of the next generation, so a few years down
the road, funding for kooky singularity-ish project may be slightly less
painful to come by, who knows.... And many other useful purposes besides...

Kurzweil's view is that the Singularity will come about as the consequence
of a whole lot of different technologies all converging, in a very general
way. Thus, he does not see funding any particular type of technology (e.g.
AI) as being critically helpful to bringing the Singularity about. This is
really his major disagreement with Eliezer and myself. We believe that a
quicker and better Singularity can likely be brought about by focusing more
resources on AGI engineering and teaching. Kurzweil believes that the
Singularity will be brought about by a gradual convergence of neuroscience,
molecular biology, computing technology, brain scan technology, etc. etc.
And he is not rich enough to make a real impact across all those fields via
investing his $$. Nor does he have an amazing technical insight that will
revolutionize one or more of these fields. So from his point of view, what
he is doing is really by far the best thing he can do to help the
singularity happen and happen well.

ben g

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