Re: Extropian Form Letter (was: an exhortation to action)

Twirlip of Greymist (
Sat, 30 Nov 1996 23:33:04 -0800 (PST)

One definition of the Singularity which may not be on the various
definition pages: a poetic term to refer to <blah> which is no more
rigorously accurate than 'sunrise' and 'sunset'.

On Nov 30, 11:40pm, Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

} Your statement about the invention of the Singularity occurring in that
} novel may be incorrect; my first encounter with it was in Vinge's
} postscript to the story "Run, Bookworm, Run!" We are not to mention the

Correct, I think.

} word "Extropian" unless necessary; we are packaging the idea of the
} Singularity, not the cult phenomenon. Individualism is not a necessary

Alas, some of us may think that the strong concept of the Singularity is
more cultish than general extropianism.

And are you trying to grab the masses, or a majority of sophisticated
technical people?

} > 1. Computers double in power every two subjective years.
} The easiest argument to understand. Attention-catcher.

And the easiest to doubt has predictive power. And I think Eugene,
perhaps among others, has challenged the metric of "power" used.

} > 2. Recursive intelligence amplification.
} Another easy argument. Both give the flavor of the Singularity.

This gives it best, I think. However, as whether any intelligence
amplification has yet happened, let alone whether it would be recursive,
is not fully accepted here, this may not be a convincing argument.

} We are creating and packaging a meme and our sole goal
} is that it infect a majority of the human race ASAP!

Oh, I guess this answers my question. How will Bangladeshi and African
peasants respond to this meme package?

} Can I have some constructive criticism of the *outline*,

How about of purpose? Okay, so I haven't been that constructive.
Sorry. A bit hard to be, when I'm leaning toward a vague idea of
Universal Self-Aware Turning Machines as a refinement of the idea of
Universal Turing Machines, which removes the philosophical (although not
entirely the practical) point of the Singularity.

And I wonder about the statement that "a human from only a few thousand
years ago couldn't understand our society". Many, perhaps most, would
be terribly confused, true. But a child from then (we assume) would be
no different from our children raised now, and I suspect that there
would have been some people, flexible of mind, who could have adjusted.

Actually, that raises a point I hadn't thought of before. Is the
Singularity supposed to be incomprehensible to a human raised in/beyond
it? This certainly wasn't necessarily the case for Vinge -- "Original
Sin" and "Just Peace" are set post-Singularity, yet the star humans
actually seem more or less unaugmented. It is their tools that don't
make sense, particularly in "Original Sin".

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

"(Dr. Chandra) had long since broken off communications with the
dwindling body of philosophers who argued that computers could not
really feel emotions, but only pretended to do so.
["If you can prove to me that *you're* not pretending to be annoyed,"
he had once retorted scornfully to one such critic,"I'll take you
seriously." At that point, his opponent had put on a most convincing
imitation of anger.]" -- _2010_