12 million Americans read about superintelligent AI

carl feynman (carlf@atg.com)
Tue, 28 Oct 1997 10:33:15 -0500

I've been off the list for a couple of months while I finished a project.
It's nice to be back.

Life magazine recently published a "millenium special issue", reviewing the
events of the past millenium in the picture-laden non-intellectual way for
which they have become famous. The last page of the magazine contains a
1500-word essay speculating on the events of the next millenium. Its main
topic is the imminent arrival of superintelligence and the resulting
displacement of the unmodified human from the position of Top Creature.
Isn't it neat how Extropian memes are reaching the great American public,
even if in fairly dilute form? Among those quoted in the article are Paul
Horn, the senior VP of research at IBM, Vernor Vinge, who first publicised
the Singularity, and myself, whose cousin wrote the article.

My cousin, Chuck Hirshberg, called me first, because he knew I was into
"that future stuff". I hit him with, in rapid succession, the Singularity,
nanotech, and the technological modification of human nature. He would
have liked to include the last two in his article, but there wasn't room,
and they were relatively less spectacular.

My cousin called Horn as a reality check, to make sure this Singularity
thing wasn't just some wacky thing I dreamed up. According to my cousin,
Horn basically agreed with me. I was fairly surprised that Horn was so
receptive to the concept. He is in a position of some authority, and I
would have thought the establishment more resistant to notions that might
so thoroughly dis-establish it.