Re: How hard a Singularity?

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Sat Jun 22 2002 - 14:23:25 MDT

Ben Goertzel wrote:
> hi brian,
> > See Eugen this is one of the major complaints people around these parts
> > probably have regarding your ideas. They are based on things you wish for,
> > but don't seem to really exist or work in reality. I know you WISH we
> > had working cryonics, perfect anti-aging and disease prevention tech, and
> > everyone had their own mini space colony, but none of this seems likely
> > to happen any time soon.
> But brian, it is certainly plausible to say anti-aging drugs and cryonics
> will work some time soon -- just as plausible as to say this about AI.

It is somewhat plausible, but remember the original point we were discussing:
the 150k deaths/day issue. Eugen posits that his proposal for how to
proceed to the future is not so bad because we'll eventually get good
enough cryonics and other anti-death tech that the 150k deaths/day issue
goes away. My take is that while maybe one or two issues like maybe some
specific cancers or some forms of aging or even maybe some cryonics
improvements might come before 2010, the odds of getting ALL cryonics and
aging and disease problems solved by then /for the entire planetary
population/ are greatly worse than the odds of achieving a self improving
AI by then. My take on these odds also stays the same all the way out to
2050 by which point AI is a virtual certainty.

> I happen to think that real AI can happen a lot faster than truly effective
> anti-aging drugs. But these are for intuitive rather than rigorous reasons.

I can think of many quite rigorous reasons why his wishes are unlikely to
happen very soon. For starters no one has truly figured out all the facets
of aging or disease. 2nd, once they do they still have to develop drugs or
other techniques to solve the problems. 3rd they have to get this approved
by the FDA. 4th they have to then somehow make these technologies available
to everyone on the planet. Good luck getting all that done by 2020.

(snipped Ben's agreement that aging is a hard problem to crack soon)

> I think cryonics could probably be mastered fairly quickly if a lot of $$
> were put into it. the remaining problems have to do with things like
> "inventing a very fast way of heating up tissue" and "creating drugs to
> counteract the toxic effects of cryoprotectants," which intrinsically seem
> like easier problems than those of AI or truly effectiveanti-aging.

Even if you master cryonics you still have the problems of brain damage
in a large percentage of humans as they age + making it affordable for
everyone on the planet.

> Anyway, I don't think Eugen is guilty of wishful thinking regarding
> cryonics, space travel or anti-aging, any more than Eli and you and I are
> guilty of wishful thinking regarding AI!!

Oh come on and take a stand :-) If you were betting money you would bet
on AI before perfect anti-aging/anti-disease/cryonics + personal spacecraft

> > Meanwhile, rather than admit that there just might be a /possibility/ of
> > fixing all this via an AI technology that can be built and tested in
> > such a way as to be likely less risky than letting human uploads run
> > wild, you aren't interested in even seriously investigating.
> I have thought about this very seriously and I think that superhuman AI is a
> MORE risky path than human uploads. There are a lot more unknowns with
> superhuman AI; we are dealing with a different sort of embodiment AND a
> different sort of mind all at once.

A human upload that modifies its mind into transhumanity has both the same

Brian Atkins
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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