Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Perry E. Metzger (
Date: Thu Jan 01 2004 - 16:33:47 MST

Robin Lee Powell <> writes:
>> 1. Why do you call Singularitarianism your "new religion"? I
>> know it's basically all in jest,
> No, it's not.
> I define religion as a set of beliefs held in absence of evidence or
> proof. Singularitarianism fits perfectly, regardless of how much I
> might wish otherwise.

Perhaps you should abandon it then. It is not healthy to hold views in
the absence of evidence.

A friend of mine who has a great deal of experience with cults notes
that one of the things that makes things a cult is taking the "and the
most important thing you can possibly do is promulgate X". That is
the step that creates, in his terms, the "virus for the human mind"
that cults represent. I get the impression that some in this group
feel that it is of paramount importance to go off and build their
Friendly AI and that all other goals must be subverted to it. One
worries about such people -- a lot.

>> but thousands of people have already misinterpreted the
>> Singularity as a result of the "Singularity = Rapture" meme,
> Yeah, I really haven't found any way to present the ideas without
> invoking that comparison. However, bear in mind that the reason
> everyone makes that comparison is because it's a perfectly *valid*
> one. Seriously. The only substantial difference between the
> singularity and the rapture is that no-one involved in the
> singularity claims to have had a vision from god.

Actually, "The Singularity" just means the point after which we can't
predict much. Myself, though, I will make a strong prediction -- which
is that the laws of physics and the rules of math don't cease to
apply. That leads me to believe that evolution doesn't stop. That
further leads me to believe that nature -- bloody in tooth and claw,
as some have termed it -- will simply be taken to the next level. I
don't fear this particularly, but it isn't consistent with the
"everything is going to turn up roses" viewpoint.

Tim May used to needle people for suffering too much from the disease
of "Future Rapture" -- "all will be well after we gain all this
technological prowess". I'm a very big fan of technology, and I'm
very much looking forward to the age when humans transcend themselves,
but it is unlikely that everything is going to suddenly be perfect
when we've got nanotechnology and know how to build honking big AIs.

> I *am* atheisitic and humanistic. But that doesn't change the fact
> that I have no proof, and barely any evidence, that the singularity,
> let alone the sysop scenario

I encourage you, then, to drop the meme complex. You will be happier
if you base your activities on that for which you have strong evidence
or proof, rather than on religion, regardless of the flavor of religion.

Perry E. Metzger

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