Technological Singularity

Arthur T. Murray uj797 at victoria.tc.ca
Fri Jun 5 01:05:45 EST 1998


After several hours of programming Mind.forth I escape to the
Usenet for relaxation and find this gem of a post by Bill Moyer:

> [...] seebs at plethora.net (Peter Seebach) writes:  [...]
>> Arthur T. Murray <uj797 at victoria.tc.ca> wrote:
>> Engineers of Mitsubishi, of Daewoo, and of the Weng Zhen economy,
>> please make a humanistic and Chardinesque way to the Singularity.
>>  
>> Can anyone figure out what this means?  [ Sorry; SHEN Zhen -- ATM ]
              
>   Arthur is referring to what Vernor Vinge dubbed the "Technological
> Singularity", which can be generally described as the point in time
> at which a technological innovation either renders mankind incapable
> of controlling their environment, or at least exerts an irresistable
> force on humanity.             
   
> Vinge wrote an article about the TS .. my copy is at:
> http://www.shinma.org/ttk/vinge.html
     
>   His article tends to run pretty strong in the rhetoric..  I've
> been meaning to write up my own take on the TS ever since I attended            
> one of his TS seminars a couple of years ago, but I haven't had the
> time.

>   Some examples of scenarios which would constitute the Singularity:

>  * The grey goo scenario -- [ Read Bill Moyer's post.]
>  * The outbreak scenario -- [ Read Bill Moyer's post.]
>  * The Homo Superior scenario -- [ Bill Moyer's post.]
>  * The Borg scenario --     [ Read Bill Moyer's post.]
>  * The Frankenstein scenario --  [ Bill Moyer's post.]

> I gather that Arthur is referring to the Frankenstein scenario,
> and that he is asking that whoever makes the vital innovation would
> do so in a way that assures that the superintelligent AI is benign 
> towards humanity. [...] Even by very conservative estimates, it is
> likely that we will have the technology necessary for implementing
> any one of the scenarios I outlined here in no more than 20 years,
> possibly less.  (My own pet figure is 12 years, but that's more of
> a back-of-the-envelope number based on blind projection of Moore's
> Law than anything supported with hard evidence.)
                  
  Arthur here -- my own not-so-pet figure is three months, because
  that's how long a leave of absence I have taken in order to write
<a href="http://victoria.tc.ca/~uj797/aisource.html"> Mind.forth </a>.

>  -- Bill Moyer



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