Re: Interesting Pieces of the Future

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 23 Jun 1999 05:06:52 -0500

Brian Atkins wrote:
> Speaking as an old fogey (age 25, gasp),

Nah. I've heard you call the Internet ELTM. That qualifies you for the 'Net Generation.

> I think it might be
> nice to get out in space before the good ole "future #2"
> hits. Or at least an uploaded copy of myself. Then you could
> at least try to observe it and try to chat with whatever comes
> out of it from afar.

Last time I checked, the estimate for real uploading was one person, a Manhattan Project, and 2040 CRNS. This sounds about right to me. I mean, really, once you can upload the very first human, you've got a Singularity on a silver platter; you just speed up the uploadee. Uploading is ultratechnology even by an ultratechnologist's standards. Uploading is an order of magnitude more difficult than writing a mind from scratch (or cribbing from DNA, of course). I'll be running Elisson on my pocket calculator, Quasars will be running the planet, and Zyvex will have the planet all runny, a decade before uploading is feasible.

Likewise, how far away is a "safe distance" from a Singularity? Answer: The next galaxy isn't far enough. The Great Filter Paradox, right? Evidently even alien races that are peaceful enough to cooperate on doing these things from a "safe distance", and paranoid enough to want to do so, still aren't spreading throughout the Universe and landing in our backyard. I find this rather heartening, actually - if the PSEs are going around deliberately expending effort to vacuum up their creators, it's far more likely to be altruism than malevolence. But it does mean that watching the Singularity from a safe distance is a pipe dream. You don't think that's been tried?

Incidentally, how about if *humanity* stays on the planet and you run the *AI* in the asteroid belt? That's still impractical but at least it's not absurd.


ELTM    = Extended Long-Term Memory
CRNS    = Current-Rate No-Singularity time
Elisson = The main character of "Coding a Transhuman AI"
Quasars = Neurohacks with jumped-up mental-energy outputs
Zyvex   = Nanotechnology R&D company,
PSEs    = Post-Singularity Entities

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