RE: How hard a Singularity?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sun Jun 23 2002 - 07:56:36 MDT

hi eugen,

> On Sat, 22 Jun 2002, Ben Goertzel wrote:
> > I think cryonics could possibly be cracked before AI if $100
> billion were
> > put into each.
> The real figure is probably less than $10 M$ if utilized efficiently. It's
> not about developing a new procedure, but figuring out what is happening
> with the best of current procedures (which are close to optimal).
> > But cryonics research is harder to do on a shoestring budget,
> so many fewer
> > people are working on it -- even fewer than on general
> intelligence, sadly!
> I've burned two years of my life working on it. You'd be surprised what
> can be done on a modest budget with proper motivation. The issue with the
> cryonics community is that it has zero interest in validation, being quite
> comfortable with cargo cult science.

I don't have your knowledge of cryonics. $10M sounds low, but my $100B
figure was intended to be excessively high.

Anyway, I'm pleased that, with your greater knowledge of the area, you have
validated my sense that the problems standing in the way of "really working
cryonics" are not all that huge anymore.

> > On the other hand, with virtually unlimited funding, I think AI
> would come
> > about before robust anti-aging/anti-disease
> Life extension research sees order of magnitude more funding than AI
> development. This disparity (if any) is likely to grow wider, not less.

I agree that biotech generally is better funded than AI at present. Funding
for work specifically on life extension is hard to come by these days, as
could be attested by Robert Bradbury, John Furber, and others whom I know
who are specifically working on radical approaches to human life extension.

However, AI has the big advantage that plenty of us can work on it for free
in our own homes (the required equipment, computers, are cheaply and readily
available). Biotech research still requires substantial lab equipment,
which means that the amount of research that goes on is relatively limited.
(I might be doing some biotech research on my own if I had an Affy arrayer
in my livingroom, but....). So the amount of funding being given to an
area, is a fairly weak indicator of the amount of work going on in that

> To use an analogy, space travel is expensive, and astronauts are
> hand-picked and receive considerable training. Given that uploading is
> going to be at least that expensive initially, don't you think we should
> exercise a little diligence, when picking the first crew? Especially,
> since it is going to mean a lot to make space travel affordable to Uncle
> Joe and Aunt Mary?

I agree regarding the first few uploads. But in the phase after that,
things will be pretty different, huh?


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