Re: Anti-singularity spam.

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Tue May 02 2006 - 18:25:07 MDT

On 5/2/06, Bob Seidensticker <> wrote:
> Let me ask another way: what predictions (or predictors) do you favor
> today?
> Who is in a position to know and is giving reliable forecasts of what's to
> come in the area of AGI?

I will suggest that there are two bounds to prediction of technological

The far bound is that of theoretical possibility, what _can_ be done given
sufficient time. We have - we are - existence proof that AGI and
nanotechnology are possible, so we can be reasonably confident that if
progress can be sustained, we'll get there eventually. (In contrast to e.g.
faster than light travel, where we have no basis for any such belief.) This
bound has been extensively discussed, so I won't dwell further on it.

The near bound is the horizon of predictability, what _will_ be done given a
certain amount of time. I haven't seen this one discussed previously, but I
will claim it is 1-2 decades, since this is empirically how long it takes
for all the practical problems involved in deploying a technology to be
solved under optimal conditions. That is, while it can take much more than
1-2 decades for a technology to make it from the lab to use beyond a core of
early adopters, it doesn't take less.

So given that a technology exists in the laboratory today (e.g. carbon
nanotubes), we can't predict that it _will_ see commercial deployment within
20 years; but given that it doesn't exist in the laboratory today (e.g.
fusion power, AGI, nanotechnology) we can predict that it _won't_.

Beyond that, I don't think it's possible to predict more accurately than
random chance.

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