Re: No Singularity?

John Clark (
Sat, 20 Nov 1999 01:18:33 -0500

Lyle Burkhead <> Wrote:

>I grant you that on a geological time scale, a major extinction event
>and the emergence of a new phylum (or a new kingdom) could be
>considered a discontinuity. However, what appears from a distance
>to be discontinuous may appear differently if you take a closer
>look at it. From a delta-epsilon standpoint, there will be no discontinuity.

Yes, strictly speaking you are correct, if a bit pedantic. The rate of change caused by Nanotechnology will be very fast but not infinitely fast and it will not happen at one exact instant in time. A mathematical singularity can never happen in the real world but we can come close, the closest to one happened 65 million years ago in Mexico. That momentous event's only cause was a few billion tons of dumb rock and ice, I have no doubt that a few billion tons of smart nano machines would cause even greater disturbances.

Please note, when I use a mathematical term in discussing human beings it should not always be taken literally. For example, when I say that somebody's post is going off on a tangent, I do NOT mean that it is moving on a line that touches the curve of the previous argument at only one point.

>the arms race between humans and microbes will continue. Maybe we can
>evolve faster than they do, maybe not.

In a thousand years microbes will probably not exist, humans certainly won't, however I agree that the problem of computer viruses may not ever be entirely solved.

>it will no longer be necessary for some people to die at all, at any age. This too may
>have dramatic effects on society, or it may not,

I don't use the word "impossible" often but I will use it today, it is impossible for the elimination of death not to have a dramatic effect on society.

>but in any case this too will take place within an unchanging framework.

For that to be true the word "framework" would have to encompass everything conceivable and everything inconceivable, in other words, the word "Framework" would have to be meaningless or at least useless.

John K Clark