RE: What Makes An Idea Viral? (Seth Godin)

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Sep 28 2005 - 06:16:07 MDT

> No one "gets" an idea unless:
> a. the first impression demands further investigation
> b. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to
> get the new
> idea
> c. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

Obviously, the Singularity and related ideas discussed here fail on all
three counts.

Kurzweil is one spokesman who may have the reputation to overcome point c,
but I guess even he can't overcome points a and b.

"Singularity" sounds insane to most people and hence fails on point a), and
the failure of the general public on point b) is obvious.

Oh, well.

Of all the ideas commonly discussed on this list, "existential risks" is IMO
the one most likely to become a viral idea. People understand that
naturally enough, and it may seem scary enough to demand further
investigation, particularly in this period of terrorist-focused paranoia
(here in the US).

I agree with Mike Deering and others who have said so before that in order
to get Singularitarian ideas across to the modern public -- if indeed that
is desirable, which I'm not certain of -- some intelligent yet
sensationalistic media dramatizations of the concept will be necessary.

For instance, most people "get" the idea of time travel now due to movies
like Back to the Future, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, Terminator, 12
Monkeys, Time Bandits, and so forth. If a similar spate of films were to
come out presenting various takes on the Singularity, then Singularitarian
concepts would wend into the popular consciousness and we would score higher
on points a) and b).

-- Ben G

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