Re: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Sat Apr 29 2006 - 10:17:10 MDT

Danni and Mikko,

With the greatest of respect to you both, I have to say that you are not
addressing the point that I made.

Printing, PCs and the rest are just optimizations of human potential:
yes, fantastic in the context of the first 500,000 years of our species,
but all previous invention was done by human brains, and the impact on
human brain creativity and productivity has been *relatively* (and I use
the word with precision here) small compared to what would happen if the
creative process were transferred to new kinds of minds that operated at
speeds much greater than our own.

For example: suppose we could build minds that simply worked at a
million times the speed of our own (not necessary smarter, just faster).
  That would mean that one of these minds could achieve everything that
Einstein did in his entire career in about 10 minutes. A billion times
faster machine could do all of that in half a minute.

Or, looking at it a different way, if someone had managed to complete a
superintelligent AGI on, say, January 1st 1670, just after Newton
discovered the laws of motion, ALL of the scientific progress that has
happened between then and now would have been finished by January 2nd
(assuming that we conservatively restrict the self-improvement potential
to a factor one billion).

I'm sorry, but newfangled gadgets and superduper user interfaces are not
(without AGI) ever going to improve our efficiency so much that humans
will be able to do that.

(And one could not argue that some kind of non-AGI "brain accelerator"
might give us that, because if we understood brains well enough to build
such a thing, we would be able to build an AGI).

When it becomes possible, for the first time, to build something that
generates new knowledge in such a way that it is not limited by the
speed of the human brain, then you're just not in Kansas any more.

There is one other point that connects with this: the improvements we
have seen so far might be approaching a human-brain-limited point
anyway. What that means is that it doesn't matter what all those lovely
exponential curves from previous technologies are saying, we might be
approaching a plateau right now (AGI excepted, of course).

Richard Loosemore

Dani Eder wrote:
>> Now *that* is not business as usual. For the first
>> time, the technology
>> changes the generator of new technology. Never
>> happened before. Not
>> just more of the same, but a whole new ball game.
>> That is what the Singularity is all about, and why
>> it makes no sense to
>> say that new technology is not such a big deal.
> In their aggregate impact, the invention of
> one-to-many
> teaching and one-to-many copying have been very
> large.
> By the former, I mean teaching in schools like Plato's
> Academy, then re-developed in cathedral schools and
> universities in the Middle Ages. This is in contrast
> to the apprenticeship system where knowledge was
> distributed linearly.
> By the latter, I mean first block printing, then
> movable type printing, versus manuscript copying.
> Both developments made the transfer of knowledge
> exponentially faster. Since they started from a
> very small base, it has taken centuries to build
> up literacy and large libraries.
> The internet/web/google/word processing, etc. type
> tools I estimate has made me twice as productive
> in the kind of knowledge work I do, relative to
> before the advent of desktop PCs, but that improvement
> has come in a couple of decades.
> Given the spread of literacy and university-level
> education to more countries in the past 20 years,
> it's arguable whether the PC-based improvements are
> the dominant effect yet, but at some point it
> will be.
> Meanwhile, in the physical realm, manufacturing
> productivity has doubled in 13 years in the US:
> I think we're well on our way to a fully-automated
> production environment, shortly to be followed by
> automated transportation and retail delivery
> (think shelf-stocking robots and automated french
> fry and hamburger machines).
> What are all those low-skilled people going to be
> doing in that environment?
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