Re: Singularity: The Trendline Argument

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 28 Sep 1998 13:07:03 -0700

Max M Rasmussen writes:
>>It is certainly true that smarter workers are now contributing more to
>>growth that larger populations. But the question is what could create a
>>big *change* in that growth rate, and it's not clear we know how to help
>>people learn much faster. But there is a potential for enabling much
>>faster labor population growth.
>In software production it is documented that ... a factor of 10 between
>poor and good programmers, and between experienced and new programmers.
>... perhaps 5 billions that can be far better educated. Again an
>improvement factor of ten is possible. ... So somewhere between 10-100
>times better/more... prodution can be made possible through education.

You are talking about absolute amounts of growth possible, and I am talking about growth *rates*. People are already working hard to better train programmers and better educate the world. It's not clear we should expect their rate of progress to be any better than it has been recently.

>A factor 10-100 in labour population growth will most likely have some side
>effects (economical, ecological...) that are very hard to predict.

Yes. So if it's going to happen, maybe we should start to think about it.

Robin Hanson RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884 140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614