RE: Is lifespan following Moore's Law (ie: increasing exponential

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 13:32:58 +1000

> John Clark said:
> >> An exponential curve like (n^X) is not a polynomial. If n is only
> slightly greater
> >> than 1 then at small values of X it does not even look like a curve,
> it looks
> >> almost like a straight horizontal line, at medium values of X it
> looks almost like
> >> a geometric curve, at large values of X it looks almost like a
> straight vertical line.
> Hal said:
> >think what Emlyn meant was that this is all depending on your scale
> factors.
> >By appropriately zooming and scaling you can make each portion of
> >an exponential curve look like every other portion.
> John Clark said:
> If you magnify enough you can make any continuos curve look like a flat
> line.
> Perhaps the speed of intelligence could be thought of as magnification,
> if so then intelligence need not ever experience a singularity because as
> events speed up subjective time slows down and the singularity like a
> horizon
> would keep receding into the distance.
This is something that I was trying to get to I think. What looks like a singularity to 1999 humans may not be so shoking to a person on the cusp. Why? Because the cusp is an artifact of scaling. Evidently in an exponential curve at least; point taken re: hyperbolic hyperbole.

Has the singularity already happened, and did we not notice? If you beamed in a serf from the dark ages, would they recognise our society as human at all? Even a great ruler of that time would think that we had transcended to some utopian heaven / decended to decadent hell / changed out of recognition (or he might turn up in the third world somewhere and not notice any change at all).

What would the versions of ourselves from 20 years ago think, beamed forward to today (besides that the star wars toys look a bit weird)? In 79 not too many of us had even come across the serious idea of the home computer. In 89, the idea of the internet as it is today was pretty hard to predict (that's 15/10/99 for posterity; it might be qualitatively different by next week).

What I'm particularly suprised by is the rapid adaption to change that human society considers, even the calm and comfortable (complacent?) folk of the "developed" (steenkin' rich) nations. Ten years ago, the net was a toy of academia. Now its so deeply rooted in social consciousness that it's hard to believe it hasn't always been there.

Will nanotech be like this? Sure there'll be some excitement early on, but 5 years later? 10 years later? Will nanotech be yesterday's buzzword (like information super-highway), and be about as interesting as plumbing to the common folk? Will IA be like mobile phones; one day it's for geeks, the next day for geeks and yuppies, then suddenly having a silver plug in your skull is about as abnormal as wearing shoes.

I know a lot of readers will disagree with this. I'd be inclined to agree that nanotech or other physically self-replicating technology, AI, IA (sufficiently advanced), etc will cause a mighty revolution that will be noticed. But I keep talking to enough non-technophile types who use the internet daily in work/personal life, who have almost done away with phones for communication, and who don't think it's been such a big deal. I have to prompt people; How were you doing your job 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago. How did you find information you wanted 2 years ago? Has your life personally changed (for the better) since you became a netizen?

Intuitively, it seems you shouldn't have to remind people that there's a revolution going on.