Re: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2006 - 09:51:04 MDT

Anyway, the point regarding the Singularity is not

-- that the PC and Internet are such great innovations, in themselves
(IMO, in terms of their immediate impact, they are considerably lesser
innovations than printing presses or electricity)


-- that one can draw exponential curves illustrating the development
of certain technologies

The argument for the Singularity is that more radical technologies
like AGI, and powerful nanotech and genetic engineering are on their
way. The exponential curves, and the power of PC's and the Internet,
are relevant to the Singularity only as part of the overall
qualitative argument. What Kurzweil did in his book is to lay out the
qualitative argument in a straightforward and digestible way. I think
that in his presentation, Kurzweil over-hypes the exponential curves
aspect, but even so, he does present the qualitative argument quite

-- Ben

On 4/18/06, Richard Loosemore <> wrote:
> 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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