Re: Natural Boundaries of Exponential Growth

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Jan 09 2006 - 12:18:23 MST

Russell Wallace wrote:
> On 1/9/06, *Eliezer S. Yudkowsky* <
> <>> wrote:
> It seems to me that for planning purposes, the sensible thing is to
> assume that *some* new physics will be discovered, but not that any
> *particular* new physics will be discovered. Apples didn't stop falling
> when Einstein discovered General Relativity, so contemporary physics is
> surely the best bet for any *particular* prediction.
> Yes, that's what I meant by "appropriate", perhaps I was too terse: "is
> our current understanding of physics the absolute last word", I'm
> confident in the answer "no"; "will we ever be able to perform more
> computation within a given time than our current understanding allows",
> I'll tentatively answer "no" unless/until evidence to the contrary shows
> up.

Okay, this is what I mean by an assumption that won't bear serious
weight, if something bad happens to us when we're mistaken about it.
Computations-performed-in-a-given-time isn't a calculable property of a
fixed physical scenario, like the impact speed of a bowling ball dropped
from 100 meters above the lunar surface. Superintelligences may search
the entirety of actual physics, as it is known to them, seeking the
tiniest loophole that will let them get away with computing faster.
Maybe they won't find anything; maybe they will. Maybe they'll obey
every relevant physical law you're thinking of, and yet, somehow, a lot
of computation will get performed in what doesn't seem like much time.
Human beings rise above the ground and fly between cities, but not by
defying gravity.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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