RE: Collapsarity

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Tue Mar 25 2003 - 21:58:07 MST

Paul had written

> As intelligence increases tetrationally, it also seems
> hypothetically possible that at some point, perhaps
> only a short while after the singularity, its ability
> to miniaturize and compactify volumetrically could
> accelerate faster than its needs to expand materially
> and volumetrically. So rather than an increasing
> amount of mass succumbing to computronium conversion,
> the opposite occurs - an intelligence 'collapsar' in
> which the mass used decreases as intelligence
> increases, resulting in a singularity (in the original
> use of the word). Further the speed up of this
> intelligence increase could accelerate so fast, that
> an effective infinite amount of computation is done in
> zero time.

and, in response, I wrote

> My only problem with this is the exclusivity that
> you seem to apply. Just because the nanotech or
> whatever at coordinates (x, y, z) gets real smart
> real fast and collapses in just the way you say,
> it can simultaneously spawn off a slightly more
> primitive (i.e. smaller) version of itself to
> location (x+dx, y, z) which repeats the process.
> I don't see any reason why such a process would
> *forego* converting adjacent material just because
> its primary interest is "downwards not outwards".

I should add that this adage "downwards not outwards"
was discussed by a friend and myself over 20 years
ago. We were working in silicon valley and could
see where the ultimate in miniaturization might be
taking us. We shoulda published that!

But the adage is mistaken. It should be "downwards
*AND* outwards". The impulse towards exclusivity is
related to our notions of identity, and that it's
not possible to do more than one thing at the same
time. Extended contemplation of the identity paradox
leads me, along with many others, to insist firmly
that just because one is here doing one thing does not
in any way preclude one from being elsewhere doing
something else.

(We are familiar with being at two different times
in the same place, but haven't yet been prepared
by evolution to accept an equally logical possibility:
that of being in two different places at the same time!)

Therefore I propose that your (and John Smart's) idea
cannot really be a solution to the Fermi Paradox. For
there is nothing stopping advanced processes from
percolation in space simultaneous with concentration
in space. By now, we should have seen a large portion
of the visible universe converted to computronium.
Since we haven't, we must assume that nobody's out
there, at least where we can see them in spacetime.
(We cannot see, of course, the approaching wave front
of an advancing civilization until it's almost on our
doorstep---which could happen, though, at any moment.)


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