Re: The Spike, nanotech, and a future scenario

Michael Lorrey (
Mon, 06 Oct 1997 19:37:57 -0400

Hal Finney wrote:
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky writes:
> > Hal Finney wrote:
> > > Actually I find that the Singularity stays about 20-30 years in the
> > > future. I'd like to see some evidence that anyone in 1980 predicted it
> > > to be in 2035, 55 years in their future. I don't think anyone even knew
> > > about the Singularity back then.
> >
> > Going from memory (books lent out):
> > Vernor Vinge gave birth to the concept in 1979.
> > The first calculation with respect to human-equivalent AI was performed by
> > Hans Moravec and gave a result of 2035. I believe this was 1980 or
> > thereabouts, although it could be 1984.
> Some people trace the Singularity concept to Vinge's story "Bookworm,
> Run". This was published in 1966 and predicted intelligence enhancement
> in 1984 (according to the notes published with the story in True Names).
> The story ends with the expection of a transformed world.
> Hans Moravec's Mind Children was published in 1988. He predicts that
> computing power capable of human-level AI "would be available in a $10
> million supercomputer before 2010 and in a $1,000 personal computer
> by 2030." This would range from 22 to 42 years away.

So ELiezer projecting 2008 is not so far off, at least for the first
steps. Market penetration would still take time, though I'd expect lab
models to reach market competetiveness within a decade at that point,
simply because of the added capabilities laboratory human level AI
would give to accellerating Moore's rate even more.
> > > When the movie 2001 was made, it did not seem implausible
> > > that a space station, lunar bases, AI, and a manned mission to Jupiter
> > > could occur in that time frame.
> >
> > Yeah, but that was wild optimism, not an extrapolation based on previous rates
> > of progress.
> If you plotted such things as the fastest a human had ever gone,
> or the highest a human had ever gone, you would undoubtedly have
> people at Jupiter by 2000 if you extrapolate that curve from ca 1970.
> Gregory Sullivan wrote here here last December about predictions by G.
> Harry Stine in 1961. Stine extrapolated based on previous rates of
> progress and found that human speeds should become infinite in 1982.
> Instead we saw a levelling off of the rate of progress.

This is more an indicator that such rates of progress are dependent
indicators, not leading indicators. That space technology has been at
the mercy of public policy and military strategy, rather than driving
the market, would explain why its been so retarded. One might also blame
environmentalists and arms control advocates. Nuclear propulsion was
supposed to be the next big leap in propulsion, which would have made
space travel pretty cheap. Nowadays, its a pain in the butt to try to
get a little old robot probe with a plutonium generator off the ground
without an international protest. Advanced conventional propulsion, like
the aerospike engine, which will be used on the Lockheed Venture Star,
has been in use on Air Force and CIA spy planes for over a decade, but
is completely black due to the restrictions of "national security". It
wasn't until the late 80's that private business was legally allowed to
compete in space, so its no wonder things have floundered.

In this respect, its the economics of traveling to low earth orbit that
are the stumbling block, not true space travel. Getting to low earth
orbit means that you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system, in
energy terms.

			Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------	Inventor of the Lorrey Drive
MikeySoft: Graphic Design/Animation/Publishing/Engineering
How many fnords did you see before breakfast today?