Re: The Singularity

Robin Hanson (
Thu, 23 Jul 1998 10:30:37 -0700

Michael Nielsen writes:
>So my counterargument is that devices which exploit computational models
>beyond the Turing model in terms of _efficiency_, such as quantum
>computation is presumed to be, may be "incomprehensible" in the sense
>that no classical computer, however large, constrained to run in our
>Universe, could simulate the action of a modestly sized quantum

This is a point worth making, but is that the relevant sense of "incomprehensible" w.r.t. the claim that there is a "singularity" beyond which we can see nothing? We have a growing body of understanding about quantum computers, which you are contributing greatly to, even without having any such computers in hand to play with. I'd guess that with more work by people like you, we'll be able to say a lot more about the capabilities of such machines, and to use that understanding to help envision a future when such machines are possible. Would you go so far as to say that we are now so incapable of understanding the concepts important to future intelligences that there's no use in trying to envision a future with them?

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-2627