[extropy-chat] Being alive timing [was: Stardust at Home]

Marc Geddes m_j_geddes at yahoo.com.au
Wed Jan 25 05:39:18 UTC 2006

>A quick glance at The World Fact Book (for the World
statistics) and use of the google calculator (too bad
I can't use my web browser to go to the bathroom...
yet...) reveals that the average person in the world
is living on ~$18/day.  Even assuming a long tail end
of the curve for the less developed countries I don't
think it is quite as bad a picture as Marc would

Wow, $18 a day.  What a life huh?  Champagne wishes
and cavier dreams?  NOT.  And the average is a lot
higher than the median.  The average is pushed up by
the 1% of really rich.

>Of course I suppose you would prefer to have us
freezing in caves and going out in the hope that we
could risk our lives bringing down a wooly mammoth and
bring something home for diner...

Well of course relative to the past some of us are
very lucky.  But bear in mind between 5-10% of all the
people who have ever lived are living today.  So we're
not as lucky as you might think.

And we're losing extropian friends all the time.  Not
a month goes past without some messgae about some
pioneer or another who 'sadly didn't make it
singularity' or 'oh how sad the singularity didn't
come fast enough for him' and so on and so forth (like
for instance Roy Walford or Christopher reed).  Kinda
depressing no?

>Not today, but we are getting *very* close at least
as far as computing power goes.  The soon to be
released Playstation 3 has a cell processor with ~200
GFLOPS and a graphics chip rumored to have 1.3 TFLOPS
with built in networking.  Link a few hundred of those
together and you have human brain equivalence.  And
those chips are being built at the 90nm scale not the
current state-of-the art 65nm scale or the forthcoming
45nm scale.  Things 
are going to get very interesting around 2010-2014
when human brain equivalence (using a petaflop as the
ballpark which is a Bradbury (~Moravec) threshold
rather than a Kurzweil threshold) starts being
available in ~10 "personal" machines, then 2, then 1
machine.  And this is all without either reversible
computing (to resolve heat generation problems) and
reconfigurable hardware (so one can dedicate *all* of
the petaflop to a
specific task).

Interesting points.  I've seen a lot of people talking
about getting their hands on those Playstations and
connecting them to make a cheapo super-computer.  I
had the same idea myself...

But it's important that future historians realize why
we're not immediately creating AGI and doing all these
other things.  

You know when I was at Uni I often heard people
wondering why Kepler didn't immediately work out the
laws of planetary motion from Tycho Brahe's data. 
When you study the history of science you realize why.
 The world circa middle ages wasn't awash with cheap
calculators.  Kepler had to work out all the
calculations by hand.

You may hear some silly student in the future
wondering 'why didn't Geddes immediately work out the
TOE after realizing that time was 3-dimensional?' or
'What took Yudkowsky so long?'.

Well, the answer of course, is that it's not like the
future where one could instantly snap one's fingers
and call up multiple networked super-computers the
size of grains of sand and the equivalent of $US 5
million in free venture capital.

>While AGI will help uplift humans, a TOE probably
does very little.  A point that Marc misses is that
neither of these is particularly helpful to people

Well, of course my definition of a TOE does not
conform to the physicists definition.  I think a TOE
would be revolutionary.  And you may also be aware of
my strong suspicion that you can't create AGI without
at least some rudimentary awareness of the TOE...

>What *is* helpful is wireless (from cell phones to
communications and low cost web enabled devices from
PDAs to the low cost laptop initiatives.  Those will
give universal access to the WWW -- think of all the
young minds in less developed countries having access
to everything from Wikipedia to courses from MIT &
Harvard at extremely low cost.

Good points.

>While there are many more humans living in poor
situations and dying today than there were a million,
or even a hundred, years ago I think their chances for
survival and potential for growing and developing to
who knows what levels are much greater.

So I tend to lean towards Spike's perspective.


Well, I suppose some of us are very lucky really.  I'm
just trying to point out why there's a major
disconnect between extropianism and the average

For those lucky enough to be working in something
related to transhumanism all well and good, but in my
case there's an an almost *total* disconnect between
my ordinary life and the ideas of transhumanism.

And many of the transhumanist lists can seem elitist
and cold.
   far the worst example I've ever seen is the SL4
list, where nearly everyone there seems to believe
they're the messiah, but all the transhumanists lists
suffer from it to some degree.

"Till shade is gone, till water is gone, into the shadow with teeth bared, screaming defiance with the last breath, to spit in Sightblinder’s eye on the last day”

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