Singularity debate: King James version

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 18 Sep 1998 18:09:28 -0500


  1. In the Beginning was the Singularity, but it was known to none, for men lived in fear and squalor.
  2. Then there did come a great wave of technology, bearing man up towards the heavens and into the heart of matter, even into the brain.
  3. And from afar off did the Singularity make itself known to man.
  4. And the Singularity did make itself known after the profession of he who saw it.
  5. Yea, each man saw it as if he himself had invented it, and understood it with the intuitions of long experience, and spoke of it with the words he loved.


6. And the Singularity did make itself known to Vinge, a mathematician, who said: "Verily it is self-referential, and thus unknowable; yea, it causes our models to break down; it alters the rules so that our old theories do not apply."

7. And the Singularity did make itself known to Drexler, a nanotechnologist, who said: "Material omnipotence shall be granted us; yea, even complete control over the structure of matter, and also much computing power." And because Drexler worked on nanosecond and picosecond time scales, he did speak of high-speed intelligence.

8. And the Singularity did make itself known to Hanson, an economist, who said: "Verily this foolishness is unlike all the laws of economics which I know; yea, the analogies and perceptions which I have learned dictate that it shall proceed at a rapid but knowable pace, like all other revolutions."

9. And the Singularity did make itself known to Yudkowsky, a cognitive engineer, who said: "Surely intelligence is the source of all potency and power; verily intelligence is the breaker of rules, the wild magic. Yea, the Singularity shall tear down the foundations of the world." And because he loved intelligence, he exalted the Singularity above all other things.

  1. And the Singularity did make itself know to science fiction authors, who had watched their work crowded off the shelves by garbage, verily dreck which was an abomination unto the Lord; who had seen the government screw up the space program, and great things laid low by inadequate funding.
  2. And they said: "Surely the Singularity shall be entered by but a few, and others shall impede them; the superintelligent shall be laid low by lack of infrastructure."
  3. And the Singularity did make itself know to the watchers of memes, who said: "Verily this is like many other memes which I have known, and all of them stupid; yea, it seemeth but another apocalypse meme." And they waxed mightily suspicious.
  4. And the Singularity did make itself known to Nielsen, a quantum theorist, who did ask of many probabilities which interacted in nonlinear ways, saying: "The chance of a given outcome can be estimated even though it is nondeterministic."
  5. And many murmured against the writer, verily the writer of this message, saying that he was torturing the analogy.


  1. So the Singularity was known to many after their own prejudices, but the whole truth was known to none.
  2. And they debated, hither and yon, saying yea and nay.
  3. Verily many had an amateur grasp of the others' fields, but each of them placed confidence in their own field above all others.
  4. And their heart could not be swayed with words they loved not.
  5. And they are still debating. -- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky Disclaimer: Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you everything I think I know.