[extropy-chat] "The Spike" - Raymond Kurzweil

Robert J. Bradbury bradbury at aeiveos.com
Thu Oct 30 00:26:09 UTC 2003


Hello and welcome.

I will take the liberty of responding to this question since Damien
seems to be stuck using an email client from hell...

(Side note 1: yes Damien its your client -- my emails from Eugen
show up fine as regular text -- I've checked the headers and even
though they now appear to exceed the average message in size they
do appear reasonable.  Of course this is the ExI list and it is
certainly not out of the question for the very bright people on
the list to be sending messages of the form (INCLUDE activated
worm code -- If username == ".*Damien.*" and email program ==
insecure crap from Microsoft then convert all text messages to
attachments just to really annoy said user Damien.... -- Remember
the rocket scientists that NASA hires are the people who couldn't
cut it on the ExI List... :-))

(Side note 2: to Pietro & others -- it looks like if you mail a
message in HTML format only that the HTML may be removed going into
the Javien forum archive [this may in part explain why some Javien Forum
messages end up blank].  It seems to show up in Email (as text) and
the BBS (as HTML).  So one may want to be careful when sending messages
to the list to try and post them as regular text.)

> A question for Damien Broderick: in your excellent book ( which, you may be happy to know, lies on
> my night table) you do not analyse in depth Kurzweil's ideas. Why? Don't you agree that he is the
> leading extropian/singularitarian worldwide?

I will attempt to provide some background on this.  I have sitting on
my desk "The Age of Spiritual Machines" (1999) and of course Ray
published "The Age of Intelligent Machines" in 1992.  Damien did
not publish the Spike until early 2001 though it may have been
available in AU before that.  However people who have followed the
list for many years are aware that Damien was collecting material
(some from the list) from the late '90s onward.

While I would agree that Ray has certainly helped to promote extropic
concepts to a wider audience -- particularly the concepts related
to machine intelligence -- these are not ideas that are unique to Ray.

In 1999 I got a chance to speak with Marvin Minsky directly for a few
minutes at the A4M conference in Las Vegas.  I asked him about the
concept of uploading.  He indicated that both he and Hans Moravec
had come up with the concept independently.  As Hans documented
one approach in "Mind Children" (circa 1988) and Vinge's first
publication of the singularity concept was at a NASA conference
in 1993 the concepts of uploading and the singularity are not
inventions by Ray.

I don't think Damien should be doing an analysis of Ray's ideas (unless he
considers it to be fun :-)).  They have relatively different areas of
expertise (Ray's being in software & AI, Damien's being in a encyclopedic
knowledge of sci-fi literature).  I heard Ray speak at the Extro 5
conference and much of the information was fairly technical -- (and anyone
who knows me knows I'm reasonably technical) -- so the audience of people
really qualified to work through Ray's ideas in detail is probably small.
Given the nature of much of Ray's perspective I'd suggest that the best
people to comment on Ray's ideas might be either Eliezer Yudkowsky or
Marvin Minsky.  Since the nature of intelligence still isn't really resolved
you would have to bring in psychologists like William Calvin as well.
I suspect one would need a conference that includes a wide variety of academics
and I doubt one would get out of the conference a consensus -- at least
at this point in time.

I would have to say that I view Max More as the leading extropian
and Eliezer Yudkowsky as the leading singularitarian.  Ray is perhaps
one of the better known proponents with respect to the inevitable
advance of machine intelligence.  (Your opinion of course may vary.)


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