Re: No nanotech before AI

From: David Blenkinsop (
Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 00:13:39 MDT

Earlier, Robin Hanson wrote:

> Dan Fabulich wrote:
> >Until we can automate the construction of a building using conventional
> >robotics, we should not expect to be able to automate the construction of
> >any interesting large structure by nano-assembly. ...

> Yes. . .
> So physical capital for manufacturing gets ~ 3.5%
> of income. So suddenly making that free, as nanotech might, is an
> improvement equivalent to one year's economic growth. Now if you could
> make the labor and human capital of manufacturing cheaper, that would be
> a bigger deal. And making labor and human capital of all industries
> cheaper, as from AI or uploading, that is a huge deal.
> >it makes uploading as an alternative to AI development look silly, because
> >nanotech is almost certainly an enabling technology for uploading, (since we
> >can't reasonably expect to upload until we get reasonable disassemblers to
> >work on our brains,) and AI is required for nanotech.

Jumping in here, has anyone really defined for certain what a useful
"AI" would be, and how it would differ, exactly, from any other piece of
software? Nano theorists and nano doubters alike seem to enjoy talking
about AI's, but maybe all you really need is just some very fancy
software to do the "automated molecular skyscrapers" from simple feed
stock material. I know, I know, that's just typical nano-enthusiast
commentary :^).
Really, though, is there an implicit assumption that "compiler" software
is at a standstill -- so therefore you need a "Max Headroom" AI before
you can successfully automate some range of constructions?
> I disagree that you need advanced nanotech to upload. It all depends on
> just how detailed information you need on neurons and synapses. And it
> could well be worth spending billions of dollars to scan just one brain,
> given how much money could be made from copies of that one brain. We didn't
> need advanced nanotech to read the human genome -- because it was worth
> enough to read just one genome.

Er, wait a minute! You're going to get detailed info on about a
quadrillion brain synapses, and you're going to do that without advanced
nanotech? I believe that's roughly the number of synapses in the brain
of any given individual whose mind you might wish to upload? Suddenly, I
envisage the subject for this with a whole forest of chemical analysis
pipettes sticking out of his skull (to say the least)! As you indicate,
one might be able to skip *some* of that "quadrillion synapses". But,
even if you need, say "only a trillion" sensors, how do you do that with
any ordinary tech?

David Blenkinsop <>

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