Re: The Singularity

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 21 Jul 1998 12:10:38 -0700

Dan C. writes:
>> 0) I submit my paper, as giving
>> mathematical predictions derived from first principles regarding
>> an important aspect of post-singularity behavior.
>I enjoyed your well-written and well-reasoned paper, but it starts from a
>bunch of reasonable but unsupported assumptions about the structure and
>motivations of the SI. The principal assumptions are that the SI wants to
>expand and that the SI is not singular. ...
>Off-hand, I'd guess that banking is irrelevant to a singular SI.

I don't assume our descendants want to expand, only that a some parts of them do expand, with some variance in strategies.

I'm not at all sure what you mean by a "singular" SI, and as I've said I suspect this is the key to our differing perspectives. Perhaps you could elaborate.

>... Art as understood by chimpanzees is IMO qualitatively different than
>art as understood by humans. There is no reason to assume that SI art
>will be comprehensible to humans, or that it is like human art in any way.

"qualitatively different" does not imply "incomprehensible".

>... Selection applies to populations, and requires
>replication and mutation. It may be that there is a population of
>SIs. I don't think so, but I could be wrong. However, its irrelevant, since
>only one SI is important to us: the one generated in our singularity.

Again, I'm puzzled by your image of a future of a grand "singular" entity with no replication or mutation in any parts. Does it use any form of modularity to deal with complexity?

>This whole line of reasoning neglects the fact that the SI has control of
>its own motivations.

This isn't new. Cultural evolution has been part of human history for millenia, and cultures have a lot of control over their motivations. DNA makes young people be impressionable, absorbing values from the culture the find themselves in. Cultures can choose to teach new things to their young if they want to. But selection has had a big effect on which cultures we now see.

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-2627