For my own benefit, and in the hope of stimulating some discussion, I hope to work through the essays Robin has put online, posting my own comments on each essay. To begin, I'll start off with Gregory Benford's comments. I doubt I'll proceed alphabetically through the comments, but the start of the alphabet is a good starting point.
(Some editorial assistance would be useful here: Robin, should we feel free to quote from the online essays? I've quoted this one in full...)
> Comment by Gregory Benford
> On the Singularity I have but one comment: most of humanity won't take
> part, for every singularity can be made non-singular by a simple
> resistive term...and there are always such. If a small segment takes off
> beyond view, they will still need to protect their physical
> well-being--necessities, etc. -- against the slings and arrows
> of outraged humanity (and there are always such; envy is eternal. So
> this juncture will provide the real working surface for change...those
> in the Singularity will be
> beyond view, anyway.
> By "resistive term" I mean that nothing works perfectly and the
> separation of a fraction will be interrupted by glitches, failures of
> power/support. And if a fraction proceeds beyond view, it won't affect
> the bulk of humanity, who will barely be aware anyway. Plus, those who
> pass through will still have to fight the tough laws of the universe.
> They won't fly faster than light, exploring the galaxy, etc.
> But conceptually they can go beyond our horizon and if so, more power to
> them. But commanding PHYSICAL power will again depend upon interfacing
> with the rest of us.
A few observations on what I think Mr. Benford is saying, and my responses, if any.
The logic of the statement can be attacked in various ways. What if the coming of the Singularity is brought about by a superintelligence that is able to circumvent all the "resistive terms"? Even if such interruptions do occur, they may only be temporary; what is to stop the rest of humanity from following after the interruption has been removed?
5. I'm not sure what the last sentence means (?)
To sum up: The "separation of timescales" is a good point that I hadn't fully appreciated before. I find the main point of Mr Benford's comment rather questionable. It needs more supporting evidence to be tenable.