The Tower of Babel (was: Extropic Art (was: Poll))

Lyle Burkhead (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 23:31:54 -0500 (EST)

Eliezer writes,

> I know what's missing. Hubris. In nanotechnology and cryonics and
> intelligence enhancement, and especially the Singularity, there is a
> sense of power and might and challenging the foundations of the
> Universe... challenging the gods, not just in the Greek tradition, but
> that of the Tower of Babel.

Language transparency has been a pet project of mine for a long time.
Whoever gets there first holds the keys to the kingdom. Rebuilding the
Tower of Babel is the most important subject there is. Rocket science
is insignificant by comparison.

But consider: if you knew how to do it, would you post the answer
to the list? I certainly wouldn't. I'm not telling you everything I know,
either; far from it.

If you spend a few years thinking about what would be involved in
writing software for language transparency, you end up with a
different point of view about a lot of things. I no longer think of this
as a hubristic project. Almost the opposite. Nor do I think of it as a
step toward AI. It's IA, and that's all it will ever be.

> Nanotechnology would overthrow "by the sweat of your brow
> you shall eat bread"

No. Technology has already freed many of us from the need to sweat
to earn our bread. The only time I sweat is when I am in the gym.
Nanotechnology will be just another step in an ongoing process of
industrialization. Technology (nano or macro) frees us from
physical labor, but not from mental work. (And now we start around
the old familiar circle once again... )