Re: The Singularity

Eugene Leitl (
Wed, 8 Jul 1998 16:52:30 +0400 (MSD)

Dan Clemmensen writes:

> It certainly indicates that the trends that we are extrapolating must somehow
> Yes, this is just playing with numbers. It's still interesting.

But not nearly as interesting as participating in a full-blown Singularity ;)

> [...]
> Yes, computer hardware and software have been contributing to
> the development of the next generation of computre hardware and
> software, but this is a relatively recent trend. Software and
> hardware development productivity is horrible, and IMO we
> are still taking baby steps. A breakthrough is not unreasonable.

I am very heartened with the promise of evolvable hardware (EHW), GA acting upon (analog) FPGA. This

> [...]
> In my personal model, the SI is not purely an emergent
> phenomenon of the net. The net serves as the raw material
> for a directed augmentation of an initial proto-SI that first
> emerges as the result of a catenation of a set of development tools
> and a human programmer.

I think that the human is just the primer. If the Internet++ is a suitable substrate, you need just a tiny, nonsentient SI nucleus. If network security then is as buggy as today, it will then take over the Net in minutes, possibly sneaky, so there is no interruption of service. The bootstrapping human is then essentially disposable.

With some effort, today a more or less clever hacker could build a Wintelian (that will take care of 90% of everything) worm, packing constructive buffer overruns together with an IP scanner. As IP addresses of PPP dialup accounts are typically world-visible, you could participate in the fun. The worm will not be able to do anything very constructive, but only because current computer performance and networking bandwidth is so very pathetic and the state of the art in GP is in statu nascendi. If there is >Tbit FPGA humming in every cellar (to better (de)compress your video, to recognize your face and your voice, to feed your pets, and to render all the nice VR games), interconnected with several GBit links (why, multimedia), the situation would seem to be a bit different.

"On February 4, 1998, MSI announced a definitive agreement to merge with Pharmacopeia, Inc., a leader in application of combinatorial chemistry and high throughput screening to drug discovery". If you extrapolate such strong current trends as DNA sequencers, total organism genome databases, very large organical reaction databases, hybrid QM/MM forcefield models, automatical scanning of combinatorial synthetic libraries, GA in synthesis planning, use of MEMS for combinatorial chemistry, STM/SNOM, you will see that not many years from now a device not much larger than a desktop will be sufficient to initiate the bootstrap of some kind of a molecular autoreplicator very quickly, if used correctly. So essentially this would be a problem of knowing how, a threshold of which is probably equivalent to a team of pretty good human experts. Even a fledgling SI could do it in a few days, probably much less. After that it has a) basically optimal hardware b) can grow in exponential progression, with very short replication times. From the receiving end (you and me), even an indifferent SI looks very much like a Blight.

> >
> [ 20 yeares more Moore ]
> Instead of asking a radical singulatarian such as myself to comment,
> please allow me to ask you to predict the effect of this level of
> computing capacity on society.

Unemployment, unemployment, unemployment.