RE: 'Singularity Realism' - A few thoughts

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Mar 13 2004 - 07:32:45 MST

 I personally think that the singularity would have the greatest chance
for a smooth ride if, on this side of the transition, we set out to make
sure (as far as one can given the uncertainties of life) that the
benefits of the change are directed substantially and sufficiently to
making sure that the world is a better place for all people. And to get
things moving in that direction we have to start out with an attitude of
understanding and sympathy for the vast majority of people. And while
acts of terrorism and brutality are not excusable at all, I think it is
important that we understand how society throws up such people and
Unfortunately, the average Muslim fundamentalist does not want our
technology to make their lives better in any way. They want to be left
alone at a minimum; and would be happier if we did not exist.
Personally, I find it hard to empathize with people who want me dead
when I have done them no wrong of any kind. I can "understand" them
intellectually to an extent, of course, but that's different. I don't
want *them* dead, but I do want to be in a position where they have less
power to kill me than they do right now. I'm sure I feel this issue
more acutely than you due to being located in Washington DC, a prime
terrorist attack target.
Note that I am not a Bush-ite -- just because I take the terrorism
problem very seriously, doesn't mean I agree with most of the steps he's
proposed as remedies...
> there will be no BUSINESS AS USUAL in an environment of such rapid
> change -- the concept of "as usual" doesn't apply!!
 But this has been the case in bursts ever since the move from hunter
gathering to agricutlure-supported urbanism - and it's certainly been
the case since the industrial revolution. These days 'business as
usual' never stays the same for long because 'business as usual'
includes technological and social invention and innovation as an
endogenous element.
Basically, what this reply says to me is that you don't believe there
will be a Singularity in the same sense that many of us do. Your
Singularity is more in the spirit of the more mild-mannered of
Kurzweil's statements. In my view, the Singularity will be an
incomparably larger change than any of these previous changes that
you're describing.
> The fact that there will be *some* system, doesn't mean that it will
b e
> the same one....
 This point you are making IS the point I'm trying to make too. While
the 'system' might be different there is bound to be a 'system' of some
sort. So if a techno-libertarian seeks the singularity as a espace from
the (any) 'system' they are likely to be sorely disappointed by the
final result.
Well, if they upload and improve their mind, they will likely grow to a
point beyond all human emotions including "disappointment"
The funny thing about a lot of this discussion is that many people are
attracted to technology because its a domain of fun and power where you
can get away with not engaging with people (read that as advanced
general intelligences).
I'm not sure this cliche' holds true very often anymore. Personally,
most of what I do all day is engage with people --- the Novamente team,
customers for our businesses, my wife & kids, etc. I don't love tech
because I need to escape from people. Perhaps some people do, but there
are lots of asocial non-techies as well.... Perhaps this cliche' of
techies is no longer applicable?
-- Ben G

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