Re: Interactions between downloaded and flesh-and-blood humans after the Singularity

Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 15:41:09 MST

Louis Newstrom writes:
> I see three flaws with this scenario.
> The first is the assumption that your uploaded self will be faster. People
> always quote the speed of electricity vs. the speed of neurons, but they
> fail to take into account the paralell processing that goes on in the human
> brain. Just as a far-fetched example, if I uploaded a person into an Excel
> spreadsheet, each variable change would take seconds (minutes? hours?) to
> recalculate the entire spreadsheet. Such an upload would be horribly SLOW
> compared to flesh and blood.

You're probably right, initially uploads will be slow and probably
have other deficiencies as well. However I think the proposed scenario
applies to a later phase.

> Eventually, they will fix this. They will make processors and
> multiprocessor systems faster. They question is will people use them? Once
> you are speeded up to normal, would you want to speed up faster? Before
> everyone jumps in to say yes, ask yourself why? If you can already
> communicate to the uploaded people quite fine, who would be the first to
> want to go faster? All that would happen is that everyone else (uploaded
> and not) would be boringly slow to you. You, yourself would not feel any
> difference. So, who would spend time and effort to do it?

There would be tremendous economic advantages to being able to go faster.
Imagine if you had a lawyer or a researcher who could think 10 times
faster than the other guy. Imagine if you were at a meeting and a
problem came up, and you could "freeze time" and figure out an answer
in a couple of hours, then deliver it seemingly instantaneously. There
are any number of fields where speed of human information processing is
the bottleneck. Imagine if you could keep up with all the technical
or medical research relevant to your job.

There are so many advantages that Robin Hanson predicts that uploads
would end up taking over essentially all information processing work,
which is a substantial and increasing part of human labor. There is no
way a normal human can compete with someone who can think X times faster.
The real problem, then, is what non-uploads will do with such a handicap,
not what uploads will do with their advantages.

> The second flaw is sheer boredom. Even if the technology makes you faster,
> how many people have the focus to think about something for a month at a
> time? I see no reason to believe that the uploaded month of thinking would
> be much more productive than the flesh and blood month of thinking.

First, I don't think you would literally think for a month at a time,
any more than you do that today. Rather, you would put in a month's
worth of work in a vastly smaller amount of time. You would still
take breaks, sleep, watch TV etc.

As far as the problem of what kinds of breaks a sped-up person could
enjoy, there are several approaches. One is to be able to slow down
sometimes. Presumably a fast machine can be made to run slowly.
Then you can interact with the real world, although it will be an
expensive vacation (in terms of foregone income). The other is to
interact with other high-speed uploads. Another form of recreation is
to just surf the net, participate in chats, enjoy pre-recorded video
and music. With hundreds of millions of people online, even a vastly
sped-up mentality can probably find enough novelty to keep him interested
during breaks.

There was a time when some people read EVERYTHING posted to usenet.
Maybe an upload could do the same thing again.

> The third flaw is economics. Even if you have a fast upload, and a mind
> focused enough to think about something for a month at a time, why would
> they? Today, companies pay people money. Without money people can't get
> food. How many people, if they didn't need food or shelter, would work for
> someone else instread of on their own ideas? I don't think uploaded people
> would care enough. (They might care about cancer, or something, but those
> issues have been thought out enough that just sitting and thinking won't
> help those issues.)

I'm not sure what you are saying here. Is it that uploaded people don't
need food and shelter (just virtual food and shelter) and so they won't
have any expenses? However you are neglecting the expense of the computer
which runs them. Presumably the upload needs to make enough to pay for
that. Then there are the tele-operated robot bodies he uses on vacation.
Those aren't cheap you know. Plus he's going to run up quite a bill at
Blockbuster Video renting 1000 videos a week. That's a quarter million
dollars a year right there.

Uploads will have expenses, and there will probably be advantages to being
rich even if you are an upload. There is no particular reason to expect
them to be free from economic motivations.


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