Re: Kurzweil's new Singularity/AI page

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 15:48:56 MST

On Thu, 15 Mar 2001, J. R. Molloy wrote:

... I had discussed the fact that advanced civilizations want to move
to smaller size scales...

> Commentators too often fail to include in their vision of explosive
> intelligence amplification the insinuation of information into
> sub-atomic scales and hyperspace dimensions.

Ahem, please note that I didn't say this was feasible. In fact
Moravec points out how very hard this is in his "Harvard Doesn't
Publish Science Fiction" article.

Given my dislike of anything that smells like magic physics that
we do not have known pre-existing examples of engineering of that
type, I will suggest exploring that realm as a useful exercise
until all the other possible approaches have been exhausted.
[I will note that Anders usually confines himself to the known realm
as well, but does from time to time stray into speculations in these
areas... But I suppose this is to be expected from individuals who
spend their spare time developing role-playing games...]

> With quantum computing (using quarks as switches or as neurons,
> whatever), a storage device containing all the information on the
> Web would measure how many cubic nanometers?

Taking the diameter of an atom as: 0.1 nm (10^-10 m)
and the diameter of a proton as: 10^-15 m

That gets you a factor of 10^5 cubed (10^15) greater storage density
or operations speed-up if you can make the transition from the
atomic scale to sub-atomic. Now, since Lesk and others have estimated
there is only 12,000 petabytes (~10^21 bits) of information in
the world, it looks to me like you would only need the space of
a million or so atoms to store all of this. Thats probably
about the size of many proteins in your body or a ~10 nm^3.

> No matter how small we imagine units of space can get, they
> can always get smaller. NT is just the beginning of the universe
> of the infinitesimal.

Nay, I must be the Knight who says Ni! As Anders documents in
his paper (see below), the Bekenstein (Bremermann) bounds set
hard limits on how small you can get. It is however *very* small.

> A possible solution to the Fermi paradox presents itself when we consider
> the advantages of migration to the super-small instead of Jupiter brains.

Well, you want to take it in both directions. Getting big may give
you sufficient computing capacity to figure out how to get small.


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