Sun, 25 Oct 1998 12:54:51 -0500 (EST)

Dan wrote:
> Randall Randall wrote:
> > Shaun wrote:
> > > wanes in the face of my realism. Show me good, hard, *tangible* evidence
> > > for your hypothesis and I will probably believe it as well.
> > The only technology required for that assumption is nanotech,
> > and that seems to only be 5-20 years away. Curiously, the
> > people most knowledgeable about nanotech predict the shortest
> > times until we have it (e.g. Zyvex' website claims that they
> > will have an assembler within 5-10 years). If so, and if
> > the resulting machine is replicating, then posthumans could
> > exist within weeks of that point.
> >
> A small clarificaton: you mean that nanotech results in posthumanity.


> I agree. However, nanotech is not the only way to get there. For
> example, I claim that strong AI also results in posthumanity, so

About this I am not so sure. While strong AI *may* result in posthumanity, I think that positive feedback with a cycle time of weeks or months would be required (or even days...). This would require an AI that was already vastly more intelligent than we are, and it is this that I am not sure of. Is such a thing even possible? Might it be that the system which our brains use for intelligence/consciousness simply cannot scale up? The only evidence I can show for such a hypothesis is mental illness. So far as I am aware, other animals do not become insane, but humans do. (This is rambling on, and I am not certain enough of my subject to be coherent, so I'll shut up now.)

> even in the unlikely event that nanotech should prove to be infeasible,
> that won't prevent the advent of posthumanity. Incidentally, I don't see
> how nanotech self-replication results in posthumanity in days or weeks
> unless it gets there by a massive increase in computing capacity resulting
> in a massive increase in the intelligence of some computer-augmented or
> computer-based intelligence. But, the existance of a such an intelligence
> can easily result in nanotech in days or weeks.

I do not insist that posthumans be more intelligent than humans, only that they are recognizably more than human. The fastest path to posthumanity, AFAICS, is a copy-upload of one of the people working on the subject. Nanotech would seem to allow that within days of a replicating assembler. Such a copy could then speed up by a factor of at least a hundred, rendering it far more capable of controlling its environment than are we.