Re: No Singularity?

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 19 Nov 1999 14:37:49 -0600

Once you start asking whether AI labor should be accounted as "labor", then you're digging down below the level of abstraction at which it is possible to talk about an "economy". Let's ask about standards of living. If nanotechnology is around, do standards of living go up? Yes. I don't care how you define the costs of producing things. I don't care if you can twist your definition around so that a fancy dinner costs the same amount in raw material and intelligent labor; obviously, if you define atoms and labor as the basis of cost and assume that those costs are the fundamental constant, which is what Lyle does, then it's tautologically obvious that the cost of dinner is a constant.

But what matters is the standard of living, and if I can have beef Wellington for dinner every night, at little or no cost in terms of mental energy and expenditure of physical effort - these being the two factors that I would define as important to standards of living - then the nanoSantas have arrived. And given that AIs, whatever else you can say about them, are not likely to have to expend "mental energy" to design a beef Wellington dinner in the first place, much less rerun the subroutines to produce a specific instance, then this seems like a reasonable outcome given AIs that interact economically with humanity; that is, AIs that behave altruistically, or AIs which can be paid in a humanly comprehensible unit of exchange. The cost of AI labor *is* effectively zero to the AIs, and it seems plausible that the cost to humans will be equally zero. So however Lyle chooses to define labor costs, standards of living still skyrocket, more than enough to justify the phrase "Santa effect". (This is leaving out the effects of nanowar, of course.) Likewise, while Lyle may choose to regard the cost of an atom as constant, the cost to *me*, the expenditure of my time required, goes way down once automated asteroid mining arrives.

The parts of "Geniebusters" which are not flat wrong are tautological. The entire site is irrelevant. Have a nice day.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians Heading for Singularity There Is A Better Way