Re: Black Goo

Nicholas Bostrom (
Mon, 1 Sep 1997 12:17:13 +0000

Dan Clemmensen wrote:

> I see only one way past this problem. We must strive to
> precipitate the singularity before the advent of the ability
> to design evil goo.

That's an interesting proposal.

> As a matter of definition, I use the term "Singularity"
> as Vinge does: the point in the future past which prediction
> becomes meaningless.

That means that the singularity is observer-moment relative, and that
it would not occur for me if I find a way to make some meaningful
prediction about the future of intelligence in the universe, even if
everything else make it look like a singularity: immensly accelerated
change, short-cycled positive feed-backs, explosion of computing
power etc. I think the term "singularity" is better used to denote
such an occurrence, whether or not the end result is to some extent
predictable or not. The concept you defined would more accurately be
called "the horizon", and that might also make it less likely that it
will function as a "we can't know anything so let's close our minds
off" devise. (Drexler warned against this version of the concept in
his after-dinner speech at Extro3.)

Nicholas Bostrom