Lyle Burkhead (
Mon, 02 Dec 1996 03:53:00 -0500 (EST)

Michael Lorrey writes,

> Lyle, please do not quit the list.

Well, where do we go from here? It's not just Eliezer that bothers me.
He is a much more reasonable correspondent than some other people
we have had on the list.

There are actually two problems. One is that I find myself among
believers who want to propagate their meme, and I have zero interest
in this. I am not comfortable in such an environment. The second
problem is that the list is set up in such a way that there are built-in
limits to what can be discussed. Only so much can be done in a
letter-to-the-editor format. Trying to present a multi-step argument
on the list is like trying to hold water in a sieve.

I think it is possible to prove that AI is an illusion, that molecular
manufacturing is nonsense, and that whatever happens will emerge
continuously from what is happening now -- i.e. there will be no
Singularity. In my posts since last March I have indicated why I think
this is the case. The next step is to construct a formal argument.
This is a non-trivial task, like proving Goedel's theorems or Turing's
theorems, and I don't think this is the time or the place to do it.

> If this was just for yacking, I would not waste another minute here,
> as I have vastly more important things to do ... Things like, bringing
> about a new type of propulsion technology for spacecraft.

What exactly do you expect to see on the list, if not more yakking?
It's going to go on for another five years, and then another five...
New people will join the list, who aren't aware of what has gone
before, and they will go around the same circles again and again.
Along the way some really good ideas will come up, such as the remark
by Twirlip of Greymist -- "All undamaged human beings, and other
sentiences, share the same area of comprehensibility." The fact
that such gems occur is one reason why it's so hard to leave the list.
I know I'm going to miss a lot. But even the good ideas are
just yakking, in the sense that they are forgotten after a few weeks.
Everything on the list disappears into a void.

> Secondly, this list is not just a caffe clatch for armchair philosophers,
> but a forum for communication and coordination of our efforts to
> actively help bring about the technologies ... needed to attain a
> positive transhuman shift.

Well, I wish! But (1) there is very little discussion of how to bring
about new technologies, (2) there is no way to filter out the other 50 to
100 messages that appear on the list every day, and (3) the technologies
that are discussed here are not the ones needed for the transhuman shift.
Biology is the key to >H.

Anyway, it's hard to say much about new technologies without
giving away secrets.

I propose a race: I think I can construct a working nanobattery before
you can construct a working Lorrey drive. (And I think I have *plenty*
of time to build my battery ;-) Then, when we are finished, we can
talk about how we did it.

In the meantime, we should work, not yak.