RE: Maximizing results of efforts Re: Mainstreaming

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Apr 28 2001 - 13:41:07 MDT

> I think your "heart" is in the right place, but the effects of
> such efforts
> will be relatively minimal compared to putting the same amount of
> resources
> towards accelerating the Singularity. If you are Bill Gates, why spend $2
> billion dollars helping people in Africa (who are just going to
> need another
> cash infusion in 10 years), when you could use that money to
> cause a world-
> improving Singularity instead? An event that would end such
> problems forever?
> There is infinitely more bang-for-your-buck by going that way, and that is
> the reason SIAI exists as a charity instead of some private corporation.

A couple responses.

First, putting money into education in the Third World will help the people
in these countries NOT to need another cash infusion in 10 years. That's
the reason to give them education instead of material goods. Although I'm
certainly in favor of giving food to the literally starving, medication to
the ill, etc. If a group of extropians were to take up charitable pursuits,
education would be the natural direction to go in, because it jibes with so
many of our other interests.

Second, stating that the Singularity will end such problems forever, with
such certainty, is sort of silly in my view. We really don't know how long
a Singularity will take to come about, or what its actual effects will be.
Maybe it will take 30 years to create the Singularity, in which case a hell
of a lot of good can be done by educating the poor now. Maybe the
Singularity will result in a superintelligent computer that is fairly
indifferent to human problems, in which case it won't help the vast majority
of humans because it's spending all its time, say, solving math problems or
helping creatures in alternate universes.

I am spending almost all my time and effort working toward the Singularity,
myself. However, as much as I possibly can, I'm also trying to help the
less fortunate, along the way. I don't do as much of this as I would like
to. At least I'm pleased to have, during the life of Webmind Inc., employed
a large number of people in third-world countries and paid them salaries
that were generous by local standards. Because of Webmind Inc., a bunch
people in Brazil and a few in Eastern Europe are better off financially, and
also have a deep sense for AI and the future of technology...

-- ben

Bill Gates is spending his money on neither helping the poor NOR on urging
along the Singularity.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 10:00:00 MDT