[extropy-chat] Futures Past--time-line

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Oct 10 16:05:07 UTC 2005

At 08:00 AM 10/10/2005 -0500, Max wrote:

>And *ten* years ago, in Extropy #15, the Future Forecasts section 
>"compared educated estimates of future breakthroughs by Gregory Benford, 
>Alcor's Steve Bridge, Eric Drexler, FM-2030, Mark Miller, Max More, and 
>Nick Szabo."
>I don't have the text handy on computer (but will eventually extract it 
>from old floppies). Anyone have the time and inclination and the issue to 
>type this up for the list?

Haven't seen that, but here's something comparable, from THE SPIKE 
(formatting will probably go nuts in email, alas):


Merkle still cites the August 1995 Wired poll of experts (chemistry 
professor Robert Birge, materials science professor Donald W. Brenner, 
Drexler, computer scientist J. Storrs Hall (JoSH), and Nobelist chemist 
Richard E. Smalley) on several aspects of a time-line to working nano. Here 
are their now somewhat superannuated but interesting estimates:

                                      Birge  Brenner  Drexler  Hall   Smalley

Molecular Assembler: 2005    2025     2015    2010    2000
Nanocomputer:            2040    2040     2017    2010    2100
Cell Repair:                 2030    2035     2018    2050    2010
Commercial product:  2002    2000     2015    2005    2000

#          Moravec: multipurpose `universal' robots by 2010, with 
`humanlike competence' in cheap computers by around 2039--a more 
conservative estimate than Ray Kurzweil's, but astonishing none the less. 
Even so, he considers a Vingean singularity as likely within 50 years.

#          Kaku: no computer expert, superstring physicist Michio Kaku 
surveyed some 150 scientists in devised a profile of the next century and 
farther. He concludes broadly that from `2020 to 2050, the world of 
computers may well be dominated by invisible, networked computers which 
have the power of artificial intelligence: reason, speech recognition, even 
common sense'.172 In the next century or two, he expects humanity to 
achieve a Type I Kardeshev civilization, with planetary governance and 
technology able to control weather but essentially restricted to Earth. 
Only later, between 800 and 2500 years farther on, will humanity pass to 
Type II, with command of the entire solar system. Once the consensus dream 
of science fiction, this must now be seen as excessively conservative.

#          Vinge: as we noted at the outset, Vernor Vinge's part-playful, 
part-serious proposal that a singularity was imminent puts the date at 
around 2020, marking the end of the human era. Maybe as soon as 2014.

2.72.  Michio Kaku, Visions (1998), p. 28.


Damien Broderick 

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