Re: Paths to Uploading

Anders Sandberg (
06 Jan 1999 17:40:58 +0100

"Billy Brown" <> writes:

> I say 'it', because I expect human-equivalent hardware to arrive several
> years before human-equivalent AI. That means the first self-enhancing AI
> that doesn't bottleneck will have the hardware to go from transhuman to SI
> in a matter of days, at most. At that point humans are far to slow to
> interfere with it - it can invent general-purpose assemblers, use someone's
> automated lab equipment to build one, and migrate itself to rapid
> infrastructure in a matter of hours. A few hours after that we've got a
> full-grown Power on our hands.

OK, this is the standard SI apotheosis scenario. But note that it is based on a lot of unsaid assumptions: that it is just hardware resources that distinguish a human level AI from an SI (i.e, the software development is fairly trivial for the AI and can be done very fast, and adding more processor power will make the AI *smarter*), that this process has a time constant shorter than days (why just this figure? why not milliseconds or centuries?), that there will be no systems able to interfere with it - note that one of your original assumptions was the existence of human-level AI; if AI can get faster (not even smarter) by adding more processor power, "tame" AI could keep the growing AI under control - that this SI is able to invent anything it needs to (where does it get the skills?) and will have easy access to somebody's automated lab equipment (how many labs have their equipment online, accessible through the Net? why are you assuming the AI is able to hack any system, especially given the presence of other AI?). And finally, we have the assumption that the SI will be able to outwit any human in all respects - which is based on the idea that intelligence is completely general and the same kind of mind that can design a better AI can fool a human into (say) connecting an experimental computer to the net or disable other security features.

As you can tell, I don't quite buy this scenario. To me, it sounds more like a Hollywood meme.

> > 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).
> Don't forget the biotech revolution. Exponential advance gives us a
> revolution in pharmacology in the coming decade, and cyberpunk-style body
> modification in the decade after that. The economic effect is not as
> pronounced, but the social effects would be huge.

The biotech effects will be slowed by a very thick systems of regulations and controls (not all bad, mind you): just because your sub-AIs invent anti-Alzheimer and anti-cancer drugs each minute doesn't mean your pharmaceutical corporation can sell them immediately, they have to go through a few years (more likely a decade) of testing before approval. It might be easier with body modification, actually.

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