Re: Hard takeoff [WAS Re: JOIN: Joshua Fox]

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Tue Feb 07 2006 - 23:49:24 MST

On 2/8/06, Olie L <> wrote:
> Furthermore, the longer it takes to develop an AI that can improve AI (~~
> Seed AI), the more likely it is to create a faster take-off. Which is
> more
> likely to create a "bad" situation.

Though one could argue that the more time goes by without such occurring,
the higher will become the subjective estimated probability that I'm right
about hard takeoff being impossible.

> > Russell Wallace wrote:
> > > > I don't think the Singularity is inevitable.
> Key word: Inevitable.
> Very very different from "highly likely"

Well, I'm not sure the Singularity is highly likely either. I can't put a
number on it, but the probability that we'll reach it might for all I know
be either more or less than 50%.

>1. De facto world government forms, with the result that progress goes the
> >way of the Qeng Ho fleets. ...
> We'll put this under "regulation", then, shall we?

Yes; it wouldn't necessarily have to be a single polity like China after the
Ming Dynasty or Japan under the Tokugawa Shogunate; separate over-regulation
in a sufficiently large proportion of the countries with an advanced
industrial base could have the same effect.

>2. Continuing population crash renders progress unsustainable. (Continued
> >progress from a technology base as complex as today's requires very large
> >populations to be economically feasible.)
> This could be categorised more generally as a contributing factor to
> severe
> economic recession.

Yes. A modern chip factory for example costs several billion dollars, and
the cost rises with each generation of semiconductors; this sort of
development is only sustainable with the markets a large, thriving economy
can provide.

Similarly (4) - "total catastrophe" - doesn't have to be anything like an
> existential threat. Sufficient economic recession will impede
> technological
> development, particularly AI development.

Yep. A catastrophe such as a major nuclear war or another Dinosaur Killer
wouldn't wipe us out completely; but it could make recovery slow enough that
other factors such as the next Ice Age could start applying, resulting in a
downward spiral from which we never emerged.

7) Engineering challenges on AGI - a variant on (5) - unforseen limit
> I can't say. I don't know that anyone else can reasonably deny with
> sufficient knowledge: There may be impediments that slow the development
> of
> AGI by many many decades. By this stage, other forms of technological
> development may be advanced enough so that the "rapid takeoff" element of
> AGI won't have the same disjunctive impact that it would in the next
> century.

Well, I don't think hard takeoff is possible, so I think 7 definitely
applies. I don't see that as a problem though; a slow takeoff Singularity
could work fine.

- Russell

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