[extropy-chat] Futures Past

spike spike66 at comcast.net
Tue Oct 11 03:53:14 UTC 2005

> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org [mailto:extropy-chat-
> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Harvey Newstrom
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 10:55 PM
> To: ExI chat list
> Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Futures Past
> On Oct 9, 2005, at 11:26 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:
> >
> > --- Harvey Newstrom <mail at harveynewstrom.com> wrote:
> >
> >> ...  Are there any examples of
> >> transhumanist claims or predictions that actually
> >> have come true?  There are dozens if not hundreds of examples of our
> >> claims that have failed to come true...

> Harvey Newstrom <HarveyNewstrom.com>

I can offer a couple of insights.  The chess software 
example is interesting in that the computer scientists,
who knew little of chess, were surprised at how long it
took to overtake the best humans in chess.  The top
grandmasters were stunned at how quickly that development
came along.  A survey of the grandmasters was done in
the late 80s, 1988 I think.  No one predicted software
would catch the big guys in less than 20 years, most
thought it would take more than fifty.  No grandmaster
predicted the 1999 Big Blue outcome, not even the ones
working on Deep Blue.

I had an insight from the 2004 DARPA challenge.  The
night before the race, many of the team members were
hanging around the casino.  I spoke to several of them
and noticed a striking effect.  The participants tended
to *grossly* overestimate their chances.  Curiously not
many predicted that their entry would finish the race
under 10 hours and collect the prize, but many suggested
that their entry would likely go farther and faster than
the competitors.

If one had asked each team to estimate the probability
that their vehicle would perform better than any of the
other teams, then added those probabilities, the
sum would be way over 500%.

Another interesting effect is that people tended to
overestimate the chances of whichever vehicle most
closely matched their own approach to the problem.  I
did this myself, with a design based on a quadrunner.

Perhaps we transhumanists may have vastly overestimated 
the quickliness of our own favorite ideas.


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