Re: Black Goo

Nicholas Bostrom (
Sun, 31 Aug 1997 15:31:03 +0000

John K Clark

> Some people say (correctly I think) that we can know almost nothing about
> what things will be like after the singularity, BUT then they tacitly assume
> that the rate of change after The Spike will level out into a plateau of
> sorts, a very high plateau to be sure but a plateau nevertheless. I see no
> reason why that should be true and think we should expect an accelerating
> rate of change for the indefinite future.

>The black goo might look pretty
> scary in the first few milliseconds after it was made, but after a geological
> age (a minute or two) it would seem more pitiful than scary, like a man armed
> with a flint ax trying to concur the world.

I think you are vastly overestimateing the acceleration. A speed-up
of the order you talk about would require new hardware, and that
hardware needs to be assembled, which is a physical process which
cannot be made arbirarily fast. This means that a minute or two
would not ba a "geological time", even if we assume that the arrival
of superinelligence had completely cut away design and debug delays.

But suppose that you were right about this. Then the first power to
get to the "singularity" (I sometimes wonder whether that term
doesn't do more harm than good) would only need to be a *few seconds*
ahead of the competition to become the ruler of the universe (at
least in absence of aliens). I reality, of course, the leader would
be months ahead, so this would automatically enable the leading power
to eliminate all competition.

Nicholas Bostrom