Re: How hard a Singularity?

From: James Higgins (
Date: Thu Jul 04 2002 - 08:16:27 MDT

At 01:57 AM 7/4/2002 -0700, Samantha Atkins wrote:
>James Higgins wrote:
>Or maybe Earth is an SI glider gun. Periodically such a beastie is
>created along with a grew of posthumans. Being Friendly, they do what
>they can to respect the self-determination decisions of all sentients
>including those not ready/willing to transcend. The result is an Earth
>with the technological clock reset and the transcended parts of the crew
>going elsewhere. The cycle begins again. Salt to taste with those not
>ready being popped into a VR within the SI and only apparently living and
>dying (perhaps multiple times) until they come to a decision and some
>understanding[s] that allows them to do something else.

That's another good possibility. There are plenty of reasons why one or
more Singularities could have even successfully occurred and us not be
aware of them. Maybe one occurred and the resulting Singularity spread
throughout the universe, except where Intelligent life had/was forming (due
to friendliness). Thus we're just an oasis of natural evolution and
if/when we get to a Singularity ourselves we'll just be invited to join the
party already in progress.

>>Even if we don't get a Singularity this will be true. Widespread
>>availability of nano-technology will make the industrial base completely
>>obsolete overnight. Just this one aspect of the future would completely
>>change everything. The value structure of the entire world will
>>transform overnight with very few things retaining much value. The most
>>valuable commodities post-nano will be raw materials (including land) and
>>information. Some level of service organizations may survive depending
>>on how things go.
>Do you think maybe the powers that be saw this possibility and wrecked the
>tech sector on purpose to slow it down until they could maybe put more
>controls in? Naw, probably simple stupidity is enough of an explanation.

Good question, I never considered that. It seems to me that Alan Greenspan
(and the other members of the board) are almost solely responsible for this
recession. Under normal circumstances I'd rule out the
possibility. However, given that this recession had a pretty specific
catalyst it is a possibility. I think its unlikely that its due to
nano-tech or AI, though. Maybe someone just has an issue with very rapid
technical progress.

>>I'm not at all convinced that a good outcome is likely (I suspect the
>>opposite is true). However, I don't see that humanity has much choice.
>>The nature of man is such that we will continue to progress. Even if all
>>technology was destroyed today humans will either eventually reach the
>>point of no return or will be destroyed by other means. I am hopeful
>>that everything will turn out ok, though.
>Well, we have all the choice that there is right now. If we believe that
>the basic nature of ourselves leads to a not good outcome then we have no
>choice but to do all we can to change or transcend some of that nature or
>ameliorate its effects to increase the probability of a good outcome. Or
>create something more powerful than us that has our best interest in mind,
>a FAI.

I don't necessarily think its the nature of ourselves that leads to
not-good outcome, I think its just a vastly, incredibly difficult
problem. There are (as is usually the case) many more ways to fail than
succeed and this problem in particular transcends human intelligence so it
would stand to reason that there is a higher chance of failure than
success. I don't like this, but I can't see where our primitive minds can
do any better. We must, of course, try our best.


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