Re: Paths to Uploading

Anders Sandberg (
06 Jan 1999 13:06:24 +0100

"Billy Brown" <> writes:

> > Since we're talking about plausible future scenarios it might
> > be fun, being
> > in the midst of millennium fever, to come up with some. No dates or
> > predictions, just how you think the next few major technologies will
> > pan-out. How about it? (And fifty years from now, when we're all six
> > centimetres tall and living in habitat domes on the moon, we
> > can have a good
> > laugh at them.)
> OK, I'll bite. Here's my current best guess:
> Computer speeds undergo a very fast exponential growth over the next few
> decades, as the doubling time continues to decrease.

DOH! Such an obvious technology that I forgot about it myself. Note that we don't need super-AI to have information technology transform the world utterly. Just imagine the effect of global communications with huge bandwidths coupled with wearables / ubiquitious computing and net-based information, knowledge and skill services. If you then assume we actually make information and knowledge management useful, things will become rather extreme.

> That gives us two major branches:
> If non-sentient seed AIs are relatively easy to make, Eliezer's program (or
> one like it) becomes an SI between 2010 and 2030. In this case we'd better
> make sure it grows up sane, because its going to decide all of our fates.

Why "it"? Wouldn't it be "they" - I hardly expect the first SI to emerge in a single basement lab in Xiang or so, rather there will be AIs turning into SIs around the world at research institutions, corporate and government projects, distributed efforts on the net ("fear the cow and penguin"? :-) and in other places. The idea of a singular godlike SI among ants is unlikely unless the advancement curve becomes extremely steep beyond a certain point (which also implies that a second, third and so on SI aren't that hard to make...); more likely we will be seeing a normal distribution whose upper tail grows without a bound.

> If not, we have a period of about a decade in which our entire technology
> base improves with the speed the computer industry displays today. Real
> intelligence enhancement should become possible towards the end of this time
> frame, using neural interface hardware and fancy software.

Wearables and information services will be starting this process within a decade, I'm fairly sure. Add agile manufacturing, and you can get nanotech-like surprises in production even before nanotech (imagine if the effects of microfactories spreading and cutting out the middleman between sales and raw materials, as well as transportation: micro outlet stores in every mall).

> After that, the rate of change becomes too fast for unenhanced humans to
> keep up with. Advanced nanotech and uploading arrive within a few years of
> each other, and megascale engineering projects (Jupiter brains, Dyson
> spheres) become practical a year or two later. By then there are lots of
> Powers around, and I have no idea what they will be doing.

They'll be writing books like "Singularity for dummies", "I'm >H, your're >H" and "The 10^7 habits of highly effective entities" :-)

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y