Re: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2006 - 21:29:53 MDT

I think the problem with Seidensticker's Future Hype book is that it is
both ridiculous and, unfortunately, partly truthful.

For him to dismiss the PC as just another invention (as in "the Internet
and the PC are not that big a deal") is surely a mistake: there are now
hundreds of millions of people who, because they have a PC, have a tool
with which they could learn to program, then learn about AI, then figure
out how to build an intelligence and then perhaps go on to trigger the
Singularity. If those same hundreds of millions possessed any of the
other inventions below they would not be in that position.

But on the other hand, if Seidensticker wants to point to stupidly
overhyped technology, he is speaking words of wisdom. The imaginary
version of the internet that drove the investors into a feeding frenzy
in the late 1990's was a complete fiction. By itself, the internet was
good, but it was not *that* good. There are a lot of details that we
could argue about here, but my basic point is that the internet by
itself (not the other things that might one day be facilitated by it,
but the direct thing in itself) was not something to get that worked up
about. It was convenient for the Market, because the Market has a
voracious need for (controlled) volatility, fresh blood and emotional
enthusiasm in order for the skillful players to make their killings, but
for the world in general it would have been better if the internet had
simply developed at a regular pace and nobody threw a hundred billion
dollars down the toilet trying to get rich on it.

And now, today, we are in Nanohype Land, of course: there used to be a
valid and visionary thing called nanotechnology, but now we have a
completely redefined new thing that uses the same name but is
essentially just a convenient hook on which companies can hang some old
clothes and snag some extra funding. Plus ca change....

What I find interesting to contemplate is how the Singularity Hype will
develop in the near future. How long before someone finds a way to cash
in on the Singularity concept and milk the cash cows in order to do
nothing whatsoever of any relevance to the real Singularity? What form
will the hype take?

Obvious and simple answer: they will start announcing that they have
built the world's first true AGI, or that they can do it with a million
dollar grant, a year and a couple of research assistants.

We have already seen examples of this kind of announcement, and my best
guess about all of them, so far, is that they are pure hype, cynically
designed to get investment and/or grants.

I only wish that someone like Seidensticker could write a book debunking
the charlatans and hype mongers, whilst at the same time making a strong
case for the potential of real technological breakthroughs. Sigh! Too
much to expect, I think.

Richard Loosemore.

Philip Goetz wrote:
> On 4/13/06, micah glasser <> wrote:
>> Of course I haven't read the book - but that phrase ""the Internet and the
>> PC are not that big a deal". And neither was Gutenberg's press or the Wright
>> brother's airplane. Seriously, anyone who would make such a ridiculous
>> statement is either a calculating sensationalist or an idiot.
> What he said is that the Internet and the PC aren't any more important
> than many other earlier developments, and that's true. Corporations,
> secure locks, printing, ships that can sail upwind, banks, newspapers,
> rifles, democracy, rights, coal, romanticism, economic theory, the
> Enlightenment, Newton's laws, interchangeable parts, public schools,
> eyeglasses, public libraries, steam power, an end to slavery, the
> tractor and the automatic reaper, street lights, evolution, vaccines,
> electricity, explosives, sanitation, police, tanks, machine guns,
> antibiotics, airplanes, the assembly line, marketing, recorded music,
> radio, quantum mechanics, insurance, income tax, social security,
> phones, nuclear weapons, televisions, cars, indoor plumbing, air
> conditioning, elimination of smallpox, environmentalism, civil rights,
> rockety, globalization - which one of these has been less important
> than the internet or the PC?

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