RE: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Bob Seidensticker (
Date: Tue May 02 2006 - 13:41:20 MDT

I agree -- AGI and nanotech are possible. You said, "They are possible and
so will eventually happen." Since we haven't gotten there yet, don't we
need to worry about some speed-of-light or Heisenberg's Uncertainty problem?
That is, some physical obstacle that simply can't be crossed? Maybe we're
in agreement -- AGI and nanotech seem a lot more possible than teleporters.
But I wonder how we tell possible (just not here yet) problems from fanciful
(and may not get here ever) problems. For example, AGI has certainly proved
a lot more tricky than we expected, given early successes.

As for your point about experts vs. futurists, I've seen lots of predictions
that have failed, but maybe that wasn't the experts talking. Still, it
seems to me that we can find lots of expert predictions over the last
century or so that were laughably wrong.

"Do you think that progress will stop just for this generation?" Certainly
not. However, I don't think progress is exponential (Kurweil's Law of
Accelerating Returns, for example) since it never has been. IMO, the rate
of technological change in the West has been roughly constant since the
Industrial Revolution.

To respond to your earlier email, you said, "If only the general populace
understood how close we were and the potential of these technologies. If
only Bob. And you can define "close" as anything you like. Even a couple of
centuries is close, though I see it as a couple of decades until the full
bloom of the aforementioned technologies."

If you define "close" as a couple of centuries, then I'm right with you.
However, I'm pessimistic about seeing the full bloom of AGI, nanotech, and
so on in just 20 years.

Regardless, we've got front row seats. Should be an interesting show!

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of M T
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 4:56 PM
Subject: RE: Anti-singularity spam.

Some people answered to your questions Bob, but let me give it to you in my
own simple way. And afterwards maybe you can respond to my doubts, on my
previous mail, about your assumptions on the average person's view of

On the matter of inevitability: I don't even want to imagine that you imply
that AGI and nanotech are impossible. To do so would mean that you are
totally ignorant on basic physics and chemistry and that you probably
believe in the divine uniqeness of the human species, the eternal soul or
something equally delusional. They are possible and so will eventually
happen. Unless we crowl back to our caves, or the End comes, of course (and
don't even go there, it's pointless).

On the matter of proximity: you need only be informed and follow current
technologies. Talk to the experts, listen to what they have to say. To the
experts in each field, not to futurists. It's an informed guess, I guess.
Ask some people here if they think they will make an AGI in their lifetime.
Sure, as an average Joe, I heard it first from futurists such as yourself,
albeit more optimistic ones, but without crossreferencing a few dozen times
and applying hard logic you shouldn't believe what anybody says (including
your own self :) ).

Finally: AGI and nanotechnology are not products, Bob.
They are not the PC that is giving you a hard time.
They are part of progress. You know, from kite, to baloon, to plane, to
spaceship. From large scale, to small scale, to even smaller scale. From
abacus, to computer, to really really really smart computer.

Do you think that progress will stop just for this generation?


--- Bob Seidensticker <> wrote:

> Michael: it sounds like you think technologies like nanotech and AGI
> are not only inevitable but close. Why do you say that, given the
> poor record of the futurist community in predicting the future?
> You know the long list of
> failed predictions as well as I do -- moon bases, videophones, and so
> on.
> Perhaps you don't look to the futurist community but are making these
> predictions yourself, but still the difficulty of seeing the future
> correctly must apply -- no?
> IMO, most predictions are wrong (the bolder, the wronger!). And any
> entrepreneur will tell you that it's a brutal road from invention to
> product, with most new products failing somewhere along the way. Why
> are you certain that these will succeed?
> Bob
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On Behalf Of M T
> --- Bob Seidensticker <> wrote:
> > Thomas: you talk about the folly (or excessive
> > expense) of moon bases, 3D
> > TV, flying cars, and so on. I agree. And maybe
> you're able to see
> > through the hype of whatever today's equivalent is
> (I dunno
> > -- manned mission to
> > Mars? hydrogen cars?).
> >
> > What concerns me is the majority of the population
> that greets these
> > new predictions with, "Wow -- that *does* sound
> pretty cool. What an
> > amazing time we live in!" Their mental bin
> labeled "Today's
> > Technology" contains the PC, GPS, and Internet as
> well as
> > nanotechnology, biotech, and most of our energy
> coming from renewable
> > sources since the press talks about all of these.
> As a result, they
> > see the progress today as being much greater than
> that in the past --
> > but only because "Today's Technology" has an
> unfair advantage.
> >
> > Bob
> Bob,
> The majority of the population sees nanotechnology, renewable energy,
> AGI even AI and biotech as sci-fi.
> If only the general populace understood how close we were and the
> potential of these technologies. If only Bob. And you can define
> "close" as anything you like.
> Even a couple of centuries is close, though I see it as a couple of
> decades until the full bloom of the aforementioned technologies. My
> point is that if "the majority of the population" understood, they
> would make it a top priority and strive to make these technologies
> bloom as fast as possible.
> PC, internet, cellular phones. That's about it for the average Joe.
> The "things to come" haven't had an impact on every day life yet and
> so are in the realm of fantasy (like the PC, internet and cellular
> phones, when they were in their first stages of development).
> Michael

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