Re: No AI for Nano/No Nano for copyloads

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 15:12:29 MDT

Hal Finney wrote:
>There are several additional problems that have to be solved. The first
>is to have a good, nearly complete understanding of the dynamics of the
>brain. Just knowing the shapes and positions of the neurons won't do you
>any good unless you know how they operate and how they change over time.
>We are still very far from understanding this area.

I guess I'm optimistic that in thirty to fifty years or so we'll basically
know enough about this. We already know quite a bit.

>Also, Billy did some calculations a while back, and a low level neural
>simulation (as you'd presumably require, working with raw brain slices)
>requires more computing power than will be feasibly available in a
>non-nanotech world.

I'm also optimistic that we'll be able to compile such simulations by
many orders of magnitude. Yes, we'll have to simulate in great detail
to make sure we understand how each local thing works. But once we
understand that, and we can see what details matter and what don't, then
we should be able to throw away most of the irrelevant detail and simulate
at a higher level of abstraction.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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