Spike or Swell (was: Re: Hyper-AI's vs Transhumans)

Damien Broderick (damien@ariel.ucs.unimelb.edu.au)
Sun, 10 May 1998 11:57:38 +0000

At 09:45 AM 5/9/98 -0400, Dan wrote:

>I nave now stated the 1998 version of the "spike",(the "instantaneous"
>scenario) and Anders has restated the "swell"

>The "spike" assumes that a human-computer collaboration can yield
>an effective intelligence amplification without first solving
>other hard problems in the many fields of knowledge related to
>intelligence. The spike further assumes that the resulting augmented
>intelligence can further improve itself by identifying and relieving
>its constraints, perhaps by solving some of those hard problems.


>Newcomers who are interested in this may wish to read Damien's
>book "The Spike." You'll have to mail-order it from Australia,
>but that's what the web is for, isn't it?

Thanks for the nod, Dan. But I'm a bit worried about the way you've
adapted my term `spike'. Really I just meant it as an quick and
media-memorable synonym for Vinge's `Technological Singularity'. While
both he and you certainly expect a drastic rupture to happen very swiftly,
I think the key postulate is just that exponential change creates a wall or
horizon beyond which we cannot see or even usefully speculate. I don't
myself think this rupture will happen literally overnight, or even within a
year (but who can know in advance?). Like all horizons, the Spike will
recede as we approach it. From here, it looks like a looming wall - we
can't see if it's swelling or jutting straight up out of the ground. Either
way, it will change everything for ever. I hope I can hold my poor
decaying body together long enough for the swell to carry me up the spike.

BTW (plug time), people can order THE SPIKE from


[and the Oz$ exchanges for about 63 US cents right now, damn it]

Damien Broderick