Re: Singularity: Vinge responds

J. Maxwell Legg (
Thu, 17 Sep 1998 14:20:39 +1200

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den Otter wrote:

> From: Michael Lorrey <>

> The singularity is ALWAYS in the future. It will NEVER be reached.

If you consider the emergence of SI to be [the beginning of]
the Singularity, then it will be a real event at a certain (fixed) point
in time, for example 30 years from now. This is imo a more useful

I'm now considering the singularity to be more like a recursive insight. A couple of examples may help describe what I mean. I live on a wild coast of forest, farm and surf beach country and often rode horses with the local hunt club. We had to chase after an aniseed bag in a drag hunt because there is no longer any wild game here. During a hunt there are always groups of horses that pull away from the rest, then there's the main bunch and after them the group that can't jump go through the gates and then there's the people on foot. At certain times it becomes social to partake of the spirit cup and that's when almost everyone catches up, even the people on foot took short cuts. And then it was off again. Those who rode at the head of the main bunch and tried in vain fits and starts to play leap frog with the leaders seemed to cause the most damage by egging on their timid followers and they were always the most physically exhausted. I know.

My second example is more surprising because it portrays a change in the vernacular, (like when the illiterati started to call computers 'hard drives'.) Last night I got a call from a friend of a friend who said his computer needs programming and could I help. After a few questions I determined that this fellow mortgaged his house and now owns a PC, way better than one I've ever seen. I told him that his computer didn't need programming but quickly realized that he did. His problem was that he was overwhelmed by too much unfamiliarity and in every real sense it was his brain that needed programming not the computer. Educators take note: I don't mean book learning but actual hands on programming like flows to subroutines and calls to peripheral drivers, etc.

I just hope that the old adage of "the more things change the more they stay the same" will help humanity overcome the lizard strategy of wriggling away from an attack and leaving its tail behind.