[ExI] Limiting factor to the Intelligence Singularity?

Jason Resch jasonresch at gmail.com
Sat Dec 23 21:41:34 UTC 2023

On Sat, Dec 23, 2023, 4:26 PM Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Dec 23, 2023 at 8:40 AM Jason Resch via extropy-chat
> <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> >
> > 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 have to read this more carefully, but I wonder if he got the
> radiation limits right.

The limits he arrives at are roughly in line with Bremermann's limit.

Which is a straightforward calculation for how quickly a quantum system can
detectably transition between states. It is essentially the amount of time
it takes for a photon of a given energy to traverse its own wavelength.
This yields a physical bound on Hertz for a given amount of energy (or

> If Tabby's Star blinking is the result of huge data centers coming
> between us and the star, then we have an example

Stars only convert 0.7% of their mass to energy from fusion. Stephen
hawking suggested advanced civilizations might use small black holes as
power plants as they could convert 100% of their mass to energy:

"A mountain-sized black hole would give off X-rays and gamma rays, at a
rate of about 10 million megawatts, enough to power the world’s electricity
-- Stephen Hawking

Something this small would likely be completely undetectable to us.
Further, if alien civilizations shift to using reversible computers, then
energy would no longer be a scarce resource to them as their computers
could run without consuming power.


> Kieth
> > 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:
> > https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/black-hole-computers-2007-04/
> >
> >
> >> 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:
> >
> >
> https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/04/22/1960-the-year-the-singularity-was-cancelled/
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > Jason
> > _______________________________________________
> > extropy-chat mailing list
> > extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> > http://lists.extropy.org/mailman/listinfo.cgi/extropy-chat
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