[extropy-chat] "The Singularity Myth"

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Sat Mar 18 18:30:04 UTC 2006

John Grigg (starman) asks

> > Is everyone here still a true believer when it comes to the Singularity?

I am.  Although it's always necessary to state which flavor of it you
think will occur.

First, as Robert says, it's not realistic to focus on a particular
instant. I don't know of anyone who seriously endorses the idea that
literally infinite processing is going to occur during any moment.
So what is speculated upon is about what year artificial intelligence
achieves a kind of take-off that leaves unenhanced humans in the dust.
Naturally, to highly-enhanced or uploaded humans, it will always seem
like we're not there quite yet.

In 1990 or so Foresight circulated a questionnaire asking what year members
believed a nanotech breakthrough (i.e. an "assembler") was most likely.
I don't remember for sure, but they may have invited speculation about
a big AI breakthrough as well. Even though I (nor anyone) used the term
"singularity", (this was still pre-Vinge's use of the term)
the idea had been in the air for at least a decade. I went on record
as predicting 2050 for a nanotech breakthrough and 2061 for when (if
things went well) I'd be unfrozen.  Figures like I was proposing were
considered very conservative at the time!  So you are right: generally,
people's dates have receded.

But I'm still sticking to mine: 2060 or so for a singularity.

Calling the singularity (or "Singularity") a myth seems unfounded. It's
hard to imagine any alternative (short of civilization collapse) over
the next couple of hundred years.


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