Interesting Pieces of the Future

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 03:32:22 -0500

Hello, I'm Eliezer Yudkowsky, scary futurological extremist, author of (among other pages) "Staring Into the Singularity" and "Coding a Transhuman AI". You requested pieces of the future, and technologies in particular, that would be "fresh and interesting". The following events are not necessarily predictions, but they are possibilities. I am available to amplify on any you find intriguing.


Speaking as a 19-year-old and Early Adopter and thus as close as you're
going to find to a member of The Next Generation, I don't give a damn
about teleportation, space travel, personal flying machines, or laser
pistols.  Those are for old fogeys.  They went out with slide rules. 
They're dated, yesterday's news, prehistorical.

What turns *my* generation on is messing with the mind.  I've got Web
pages up speculating on how to play with neurosurgery for intelligence
enhancement.  I've got a real-life (as opposed to 'Net) acquaintance -
who I just happened to meet because he was going to the same school as
another friend - who told me to forget about Ritalin and Prozac and
L-Phenylalanine because cholinergic memory-boosters were where it was
at.  Of course, I disagreed with him on the grounds that memory-boosters
would interfere with the cognitive style I was trying to enhance.

Yes!  Some sizable percentage of my generation actually talks about
these things!  Don't you feel like a Neanderthal?  Bwah-ha-hah!  Yes,
we're the Bill Gateses and Steve Jobses of the next millennium!  We're
in - the garage? of course not, nobody cares about hardware - front of
our computers, cooking up the next revolution, and oh Lord is it a
doozy!  Do you pride yourself on adapting to rapid change?  You haven't
seen anything yet!  We laugh up our sleeves at you!  Our *parents* read _Wired_!

Get with the 'Net generation!  We're already traveling at the speed of
light.  We don't want flying machines, we want those pods from The
Matrix.  We don't want to mess with the laws of physics, we want to play
with neurochemistry.  And, although I can only speak for myself, the
be-all and end-all of *my* existence is coding up a transhuman AI.

I'd be really astonished to see Life As We Know It - you know, the
Cro-Magnon version, the one that started fifty thousand years ago and is
*really* due for an upgrade - still around by 2050.  Call it between
2005 and 2040 for 95% probability.  Call 2010 and 2025 the bounds for
two-thirds probability.  Call me if you have any questions.

Pleasant dreams,
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky.
            Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way