[extropy-chat] Desirability of Singularity (was Are ancestor simulations immoral?)

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Fri Jun 2 02:28:54 UTC 2006

On 6/2/06, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at tsoft.com> wrote:
> I'm pretty sure I have not kept up with what most people
> are thinking about the Singularity. Do you suppose that
> the probability that it will be of net benefit to be
> greater than 1/2?  If so, why?

(To first clarify my stance on terminology: I don't believe in the rather
badly named "Singularity" in the mathematical sense of a discontinuity on a
graph at a particular point in time. I regard the valid use of the term to
be more like "infinity": for practical purposes denoting a direction,
process or limit rather than an event.)

Consider a rocket soaring through the air: is the probability that it will
be of net benefit to it to reach orbit/escape velocity greater than 1/2? The
question of course isn't terribly meaningful. You mightn't have the data to
predict where the rocket will end up, but you know one of two things must
happen: either it reaches orbit/escape velocity before its fuel runs out, or
it falls back to earth.

We're soaring through the air, but our fuel is running out; either we
ascend, or we die out like any other animal species whose evolved
environment is long gone, and ultimately the sun turns the biosphere into a
cloud of carbon dioxide and steam. I put it to you that the first option is
self-evidently preferable.
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