Re: Whole Earth Singularity Issue

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Fri Jul 11 2003 - 10:52:44 MDT

> > Looks worthless except for those interested in
> keeping up with popular
> > error.

I think the articles I read do some good in exposing
people to varieties of growth curves. We here on the
SL4 list are comfortable with an AI-based Singularity,
where the curve trends upward, then takes an abrupt
turn vertically upward.

The eclectic layman (which is the Whole Earth
Review's audience) is in the range of SL0-SL2.

Their ideas about technology might be like:

There's progress in some technologies, but life's
been getting worse in other areas


There's progress in technology, but it's a steady
improvement (linear)

Some people think in terms of Moore's Law or
other expressions of exponential growth, but
the implications of that are hard for the average
person to think through.

Actual growth curves that I've looked at such
as population, manufacturing productivity, and
computer power/$ are following curves that are
closer to hyperbolic than exponential. That
means there is an asymptote in time at which
the curve will either go vertical, or break the

To the extent that the WER issue exposes an
audience to the ideas of faster growth curves
and their implications, it does good.

Bruce Sterling's article about stopping science
in it's tracks is just silly. IBM all by itself
has enough R&D power to maintain progress in
the semiconductor/computer arena. Does anyone
think they can change IBM's internal motto from

Short of the Khmer Rouge solution (kill all the
intellectuals), progress won't be stopped. And
we won't implement such a solution because we
need some smart people to keep society running.
I've got a friend who works at a waste treatment
plant, and his job requires a college-level
science degree. You have to understand things like
bacterial growth, trace chemicals, Ph levels, etc.
to do the job. Other jobs at oil refineries,
power plants, etc. require technical knowledge,
and then you need people to teach these people
those technical subjects. Now try to stop all
these people from thinking. It's just not going
to happen.


Do you Yahoo!?
SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month!

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:42 MDT