Re: Genius dogs

Nicholas Bostrom (
Wed, 8 Oct 1997 23:03:15 +0000

Hal Finney wrote:

> Nicholas Bostrom writes:
> > [Hypotheis] (H) Take a person X of normal intelligence who knows the basics of
> > some standard programming language. Give him an arbitrarily powerful
> > computer, complete with camera eyes, microphones, robot arms etc.
> > Then it is possible to educate X in less than a week in such a way
> > that he will be able to program his computer to achieve
> > superintelligence.
> This is an interesting question. I posed something similar on the list a
> year ago:
> > From hal Fri Oct 11 16:31:01 1996
> > To:
> > Subject: Infinitely fast computer
> >
> > An idea I've been amusing myself with a bit, relating to the question
> > of how hard it will be to generate AI using nanotech is this: suppose a
> > genii gives you an infinitely fast computer. This is a computer just
> > like today's, programmable in C or Lisp or some other language, which
> > had the property that it runs infinitely fast. Any program you put on
> > it completes instantly (unless it is of the type which never completes,
> > in which case it runs forever until you halt it).

I'm not sure that this specification of an infinitely fast computer
is logically consistent. Suppose we combine it with a
present day PC (or a simulated PC on the infinitely fast computer).
Input any Turing machine descriptionand a tape state to the PC. The
PC then sends this info to the infinitely fast computer, which
simulates the computation that the specified Turing machine performs
if started on the specified tape state. If the Turing machie halts,
the the infinitely fast computer stops and sends the messege "Halted"
to the PC; if the Turing machine doesn't halt then the infinitely
fast computer you specified continues to run indefinitely. So the
combined system can then solve the halting problem in the following
way: the PC starts the simulation on the infinitely fast computer,
waits one second, and if it has got the messege "Halted" then it
writes "Halts", and if it hasn't got the messege "Halted" then it
writes "Doesn't halt".

Nicholas Bostrom