[ExI] Curves on a graph (was Re: Richard Lindzen on climate hysteria)

Tom Nowell nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Aug 4 16:22:45 UTC 2009

It's interesting how much argument on climate change is based on looking at data, trying to see the developing trends, and often a graph demonstrating an upward curve is used to illustrate the point for global warming, and downward curves on sunspots used to argue for global cooling.

This reminds me of arguments used regarding the singularity - The existence of Moore's law is used to draw an exponential graph showing accelerating processing power. Another graph is used to show the pace of human technological progress (and by picking points of progress suitably, an accelerating rate of progress is shown). Accelerating computing power + accelerating gadget development is used to demonstrate the possibility of ever-accelerating technological change leading to a colossal rate of change where a singularity occurs and we can only guess at what lies beyond.

 On the other hand, you could draw graphs picking different points and argue the pace of change is not so rapid (such as Max More's concept of "The Surge" if progress is not exponential) or even follow Mike Darwin's idea of looking at graphs of medical developments (if less drugs and medical devices are being presented to the FDA, guardians of the most lucrative healthcare market on earth, then is biomedical progress slowing?). Like the climate change arguments of "but you're assuming CO2 is the important factor", it can be argued "but you're assuming raw processing power is the important factor in developing artificial general intelligence".

It's interesting to think about how we debate the facts with each other to form our own theories of the future, and the resulting visions. People have been ignoring futurists or playing up their theories as scare stories for a long time - is there a way we can make transhuman ideas fare slightly better than those of past future-gazers?



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