RE: No Singularity?
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 11:12:01 -0800

One thing I wanted to mention, for those trying to plow through Lyle's Geniebusters pages via his arrows, there is a table of contents at which provides a more accessible entry into the otherwise linear sequence of pages. (Thanks to the critlink software for revealing this link.)

Billy Brown, <>, writes:
> wrote:
> > In fairness though we do have many people here and in nanotech circles
> > who expect a much faster transformation. See Eliezer's recent posts about
> > his Singularity Institute, for example. So it is quite appropriate for
> > critics such as Lyle to address such claims.
> Actually, in Eli's scenario the rapid change is a product of superhuman
> intelligence. The nanotech is just a convenient tool for the SI to use - if
> there weren't any such thing you would still get a Singularity, it would
> just take a little longer.

Lyle's main point is not so much that nanotech transformations will be slow, but that there will be no "genies", as his URL implies. He criticizes AI genies as much as nanotech ones.

> I know that newcomers usually go through a phase where they think there will
> be a 'Nanotech Day' when suddenly you can do anything, but they usually get
> over it after a few months. I don't know of any serious thinkers who hold
> to this view - do you?

Many people expect AI and nanotech to go hand in hand, either one leading to the other, not necessarily overnight but in a short time (months?). Once you have both available I think there are a great many serious thinkers who expect overnight change. See the discussion at, particularly Nick Bostrom's reasoning for why AI and nanotech will arrive close together.

Lyle quotes Drexler as writing in

: This design-ahead process seems sure to occur; the only question is when
: it will start and how far it will go. Years of quiet design progress
: may well erupt into hardware with unprecedented suddenness in the wake
: of the assembler breakthrough

"Unprecedented suddenness" does not necessarily imply overnight, but it at least carries connotations of extremely rapid change, as does the phrase "the assembler breakthrough".