Robin Hanson wrote:
> > returns. Recent history demonstrates that if you research enough
different
> > things, you can create a situation in which the ability of your society
to
> > make technological advances increases faster than the difficulty of
taking
> > the next step. A reasonable extrapolation of the trend would predict a
> > century or two of steadily-accelerating progress before things begin to
> > change so fast that an unenhanced human can't cope..
>
> What is the "recent history" that shows a "trend" of
"steadily-accelerating
> progress"? No such acceleration shows up in economic trends over the last
> half century.
I meant technological progress, not economic growth. Since new inventions do not necessarily show up in economic data, even when they have a substantial effect on the human condition, concentrating exclusively on economic data could easily lead us to miss important facts.
> >Roughly speaking, the our rate of progress is determined by:
> >
> > R * P * I
> > Progress / unit of time = -----------
> > T * C
> >
> >Where R represents the resources available to each researcher, P is the
> >population of researchers, I is the average intelligence of the
researchers,
> >T is our current level of technological sophistication, and C is a
measure
> >of the time and effort required for researchers to communicate.
>
> I think you mean T to be an inverse of tech sophistication.
>
> You are assuming that progress comes mainly from researchers. This
seriously
> undercounts contributions to progress from everyone else. And you are
> not allowing for the possibility that we solve the easier problems first,
> so that problems get harder with time.
No, I mean T is proportional to tech sophistication - this is the effect you mention, in which advanced technologies are harder to invent, design and build than primitive ones. Also, I mean 'researcher' in a broad sense - you could break out R and P into lots of separate terms to reflect the contributions of different groups of people. I didn't, because to do so would greatly complicate the expression without changing anything relevant about the way it behaves.
> >Most of the
> >increasing rate of change in recent times comes from a slow geometric
> >increase in both R and P, and a steady drop in C. Since the changes in R
> >and C are both due to technology, the whole process tends to feed on
itself..
> >Meaningful IE would make I increase in roughly the same fashion as R.
Not
> >only would this dramatically speed up our rate of advance, it would also
> >increase the rate at which our rate of advance speeds up..
>
> You might see if these claims can be illustrated in the context of a
> specific mathematical model of these processes.
I don't think a detailed model is practical, because all of these terms (except for P, of course) are difficult or impossible to reduce to simple numeric terms. However, I will venture some general observations:
Billy Brown, MCSE+I
bbrown@conemsco.com