Re: Professional intuitions

Hal Finney (
Sat, 26 Sep 1998 13:52:45 -0700

Robin writes, quoting Eliezer:
> >If the planet was on a collision course with
> >the Sun, I can see people saying: "We've seen ice melt, and the deserts are
> >full of sand, and when things get extremely hot water evaporates, but there's
> >no reason to suppose that the entire planet will vaporize. ...
> Come on - even an empirical trend line of temperature with time would be
> enough to get everyone's attention. A simulation of planetary motions based
> on well understood physics would be even more persuasive. Of course big
> things could hit us that we don't understand well enough to forsee, but
> that's hardly an argument for any particular big-change claim.

Actually if we just look at the empirical data, Robin has done some curve fitting which does suggest a Singularity some time in the next century.

At he shows how historically the time it takes for the world economy to double has decreased in several relatively discrete steps over the course of history. Extrapolating forward suggests that we might transition to a doubling time of two years sometime in the next few decades, with a potentially even more dramatic transformation a few years later.

Of course without a model for why such changes should occur, it is hard to give them much credence. Robin noted elsewhere that the two year doubling time is in rough accord with Moore's law, suggesting that perhaps it could be interpreted as a transition to an economy dominated by computing power.

In terms of Eliezer's metaphor, we can't be certain we're falling into the Sun, but the data is pointing towards catastrophic warming a few decades ahead.