[extropy-chat] On difficult choices (was: Books: Harris; Religion and Reason)

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Sun Jan 15 09:47:13 UTC 2006

On Jan 14, 2006, at 3:18 PM, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:

> On 1/14/06, Russell Wallace <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On 1/14/06, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:
>>> On Jan 14, 2006, at 11:11 AM, Russell Wallace wrote:
>>> Out of curiosity, how close to the Singularity do you think we are?
>>> About one generation away if we don't do something stupid.
>>  I hope you're right! I think it's likely to take longer, even in  
>> the best
>> case scenario; but if the Singularity does arrive in one  
>> generation, feel
>> free to say "see, Russell, you were being unnecessarily grouchy and
>> pessimistic" and I'll agree that this was indeed so :)  
>> Operationally, I'll
>> keep trying to figure out how to prove myself wrong.
> ### My 95% confidence interval for the SAI-driven Singularity is 2015
> to 2050, squarely within our generation's lifetimes.
> But I am not as pessimistic as Samantha about the US economy. Read
> Arnold Kling - the fact is, the US is doing better than ever, even
> despite the horrid stupidities that bedevil the system.

How do you figure that?  With massive public and private debt, huge  
foreign ownership, more dollars in foreign hands than in our own,  
little on-shore manufacturing capability,  a government that eats 50%  
of everything and still is massively in debt, liberty and freedom  
largely forgotten by the people - exactly HOW can you possibly claim  
we are doing better than ever?   If you claim it is because of our  
technology, well, that same technology is all over the East and much  
of the critical components are produced mainly there.  So that isn't  
going to keep the US boat afloat.

> Samantha, about five years ago we discussed on ExI the same question -
> you finished your last post in the thread by wondering whether maybe
> the American society might be able to invent its way out of the
> financial ruin brought about by government spending. Now I feel more
> confident than ever that it will happen.

How?  Which companies and what areas?  R&D financed how?

> The dramatic improvements in
> labor productivity produced by American capitalism will produce so
> much wealth that even American politicians won't be able to destroy it
> all (you can find the relevant analyses on TCS and on Econlog).

No.  That was largely a hoax.  For "productivity" increase the  
government counts the difference in computer speed/strorage cost per  
dollar.  But anyone working in computers (especially software) knows  
that raw machine power increases do not translate into real  
productivity gains like that, not even in direct computer related  
industries.   If our productivity is really so good then why is China  
eating our lunch?

- samantha

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