[ExI] Limiting factor to the Intelligence Singularity?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sat Dec 23 16:39:15 UTC 2023

On Sat, Dec 23, 2023, 11:12 AM Kelly Anderson via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> Einstein proposed that nothing could achieve the speed of light
> because it gained mass as it got closer to that speed.
> I wonder if something similar might affect intellectual progress.

There is. Seth Lloyd describes the physical limits of computational speed
and memory density, which are a function of just three physical constants
(c, h-bar, and G): https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9908043

I would argue these computational bounds imply a physical bound on
intelligence (which is limited by, and to an extent a function of,
computation and memory).

Roughly speaking, computational speed is a function of mass, while memory
is a function of mass and volume. The greater the volume the more memory,
but the slower non-parallelizable processing becomes. Energy use is a
function of forgetting (erasing information) and background temperature. A
reversible computer loses no information, and therefore need use no energy
at all to run.

The physical object with the fastest computation and memory density would
look like a black hole:

Though there is no c there, so it might not hold together entirely.
> Hang with this for a second though, as there is a counter exponential
> at play.
> As we grope into the future, there is a trend away from the single
> brilliant inventor. Edison had a whole lab of people, some of whom
> were clearly smarter than he. Eli Whitney pretty much invented the
> cotton gin by himself relying on only a few simple precedent ideas. By
> the time we get to super colliders, fusion reactors and rockets, you
> need a village of scientists and engineers to make progress.

I see echos of the memory / parallelism/ volume / speed trade-offs in
physics reemerging here in the context of human brains, teams, remote work,
etc. Very interesting.

> Is it possible that the exponential curve towards the singularity has
> a hidden negative signal of increased resistance to progress because
> of the required size of the team? Might this be one reason that we
> haven't yet progressed beyond the jumbo jet airliner? Is that
> indicative of the future of a lot of things? How many Intel employees
> does it take to design the next iteration of their CPU? Yes, they have
> computational minds that help them with layout and such now... but you
> can hardly say Oppenheimer was the inventor of the atomic bomb. He was
> the face of the project and coordinated the efforts to some degree,
> but you can't make that level of progress without a sea of minds. Musk
> has ideas (or maybe his people do that too) and finances them, but the
> actual work is carried forward by an army of engineering ants. As I
> believe in emergence as a deep concept, I tend to see groups more than
> individuals, though I value individual contribution greatly.

Progress has loosely been a function of the number of inventors which is a
function of population. There was a trend change in population growth in
the 60s which seemed to alter the path we were on:


I don't know to what extent this may have forestalled thy singularity,
however, as computers have been taking on an ever greater fraction of the
cognitive load. I think we're still roughly on track for van Forrester's
predictions of 2027 +/- 5 years.

> Perhaps my mind has wandered too freely and it is time to go work on
> my own, much simpler, inventions, as they seem to constantly be
> broken.

Thanks for your intriguing ideas. I appreciate them.

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