Re: An essay I just wrote on the Singularity.

From: Randall Randall (
Date: Fri Jan 02 2004 - 14:39:51 MST

On Friday, January 2, 2004, at 05:32 AM, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> On Wed, 31 Dec 2003 18:26:30 -0500
> Randall Randall <> wrote:
>> This is not at all true. I think it's quite arguable that
>> strong superintelligence is impossible. For instance, it
>> might be that physical law doesn't permit complexity above
>> some ceiling. If so, it might be that the smartest possible
>> humans are already very close to that limit.
> Saying "it might be that physical law <blah>" is not at all
> illustrative of the point being arguable in any meaningful way. There
> is no reason to expect such to be the case at a level ruling out
> superintelligence and thus no reason to hold much stock in such a
> possibility.

No one's holding stock. :)

As someone who doesn't understand what produces a mind, and
hasn't encountered anyone whom I'm convinced does understand
that, I'm skeptical of the possibility until I hear some
convincing case that humans *can* understand mind, or see
an example. I'm willing to entertain the idea (else I
wouldn't be here, after all), but don't necessarily think
it's a given.

> I am also confused by the phrase "the smartest possible humans". Do
> you mean "smartest humans occurring naturally without augmentation to
> date" or what?

Smartest person using the brain architecture that humans

> Now physical reality *does* place "some ceiling" or maximum possible
> intelligence, but that ceiling by all we know to date is comfortably
> far on the other side of SAI.

I'm not at all sure that your position is more defensible than the
one I've described, even by your own standards. Perhaps you meant
"maximum possible intelligence per cubic kilometer"?

> The exact boundaries of what is the maximal possible intelligence in
> this physical universe is something that I doubt humans are
> intelligent enough to comprehend.

This isn't incompatible with my statements.

>> This might not seem very likely to you, but unless you
>> can logically rule it out, it isn't incompatible with
>> a technologically induced singularity (in the weak sense).
> It is not rational to require logically ruling out each and every weak
> hypothetical in order to assert the emptiness of an argument based on
> the weak "it might be possible that X" form. Proving an "it might be
> possible that" is in fact impossible is generally equivalent to
> proving a universal negative.

The hypothesis I'm describing is of the same form
as "it might be possible that physical law prevents
objects from moving at more than ~300,000 km/s."

It isn't necessary to show that each particular object
is so bound, if you can show the rule. Of course, I'm
not showing the rule, merely arguing that considering
such a rule possible is not incompatible with singularity-
aware discourse.

Randall Randall

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