Re: Development of Tech. Civs. (was RE: SETSIs)

Michael S. Lorrey (
Tue, 13 Jul 1999 02:40:42 -0400

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> > Rob Harris Cen-IT <> wrote:
> >
> > > > Now, it would appear that the development time for a technological
> > > > civilization from the pre-radio stage to the post-singularity stage
> > > > is ~100 years on a planet similar to ours.
> > >
> > Really? Which Sci-Fi book did that come from? It sure as hell has nothing to
> > do with reality!
> >
> That's my best estimate.
> The first radio transmission was March 27, 1899.
> My best guess-estimate for the singularity would be circa 2020.
> I would be very surprised if we hit it before 2010 or after 2040.
> So within a factor of 2 I'm accurate (and since for the numbers
> I usually deal with are in the ranges of 10^12 - 10^40, 2 seems
> really small :-)).

Actually since its already been discussed a 1% growth rate maxes out in 3000 years, your factor is off. Stop fudging the numbers.

> You can quibble with me on this but I think I'm on pretty solid
> ground. Best predictions for the microelectronics industry hitting
> the gate oxide thickness limit of 5 atoms is 2012. The semiconductor
> industry is $200 billion+, R&D is probably $20 billion+. The human
> genome is done by 2001, mouse by 2002, by ~2010 the combined R&D
> budgets of the NIH and Big Pharma will be around $30 billion+.
> The Microelectronics & Biotech industries are working top-down
> towards nanotechnologies.
> The U.S. Government is bumping "nanotechnology" funding to
> $500 million next year. And while most of it is not in
> "molecular nanotechnology" the trend is in that direction.
> So it is fairly safe to say that after 2010, the annual budget
> for nanotechnology research should be in the $billions.
> That should get us over the nanoassembler hurdle.

Absolute crap. They already spend tens of billions on AIDS research, and havne't done jack. Thats an easy problem compared to nanotech.

> The microelectronics industry also produces brain-op desktop
> computers by around 2010. I don't want to get into an AI
> discussion here, but if you get AI *or* significant
> enhancement of human engineering productivity, then
> I believe the molecular design (and simulation) problems
> should fall.
> molecular designs + nanoassembler == singularity in my book.
> Other civilizations may be slower, some might be faster.
> My guess is that the rate of development depends a lot
> on population and the productivity allowed by the environment
> (e.g. we would probably be less productive in an ice age,
> because survival would require more effort).

Some civlizations may be much slower, some may have 'religious' reasons not to go further, esp. if they are long lived and have greater ability to naturally constrain reproduction. You are sounding like a Democrat baking the budget surplus higher to justify more social spending.

Mike Lorrey