Re: Whole Earth Singularity Issue

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Thu Jul 10 2003 - 23:34:13 MDT

Cliff Stabbert wrote:
> _Whole Earth_'s Spring 2003 issue is dedicated to the Singularity.
> Ready for the presses but underfunded, apparently...
> See

Some comments that were posted to the Extropians mailing list:

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> Looks worthless except for those interested in keeping up with popular
> error. Jaron Lanier is the only one who seems to have a clue that
> perhaps there is some technical knowledge involved in understanding
> these things, not that he does anything interesting with yon clue.
> Alex Steffen is the only one who seems to understand what a
> "Singularity" is or have done any reading on the subject. Neither says
> anything new. Bruce Sterling gets bonus antipoints for having slipped
> away into a complete fantasy worldview.

Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> This is a very troubling account of singularity, full of bizarre
> arguments, unfounded fears, scientific ignorance, environmentalist,
> leftist and authoritarian propaganda and a frank hostility to progress.
> The only bright part is the article by Vinge, and possibly the article
> by Jamais Cascio (unfortunately not available online).
> Let's hope no trees will get killed to spread this stuff.

Damien Broderick wrote:
> It's quite depressing. Cory Doctorow's mishmash is exemplary: he
> doesn't notice, for example, that his tired derisory comparison of
> uploading with building a cargo cult airstrip and then foolishly
> expecting a plane to land also proves that nobody is able to build an
> airstrip where planes will land, and that nobody can build a working
> radio using parts from the store and following the blueprint, and that
> nobody can bake a cake by mixing up the ingredients according to the
> recipe and cooking it...
> Where does he go wrong? As far as I can tell, by a sort of reverse
> cargo cult faith: he thinks if you build an exact functional duplicate
> of a brain, some sort of supernatural aircraft will ignore it, zooming
> disdainfully far overhead. It doesn't occur to him that we build an
> airstrip every time a bunch of DNA helices turns a flow of chemicals
> into a child, and then by an astonishing stroke of luck, there's the
> aircraft on the field...

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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