The Singularity Shop

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Wed, 01 Dec 1999 21:11:01 -0600

(As long as everyone's posting Monty Pythons, I figured, what the heck.
The sketch I'm spoofing may be found at: )

The Singularity Shop Sketch

(a customer walks in the door)

Customer: Good Morning.
Owner: Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the Planetary Singularity Emporium! Customer: Ah, thank you, my good man.
Owner: What can I do for you, Sir?

C: Well, I was, uh, sitting in the public library on Thurmon Street just now, skimming through "True Names" by Vernor Vinge, and I suddenly came over all hakraish.

O: Hakraish, sir?
C: Beyondable.
O: Eh?

C: 'Ee, Ah wor 'anscendent-loike!

O: Ah, Transcendent!
C: In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, "a little intelligence enhancement will do the trick," so, I diverted my economic resources, sallied forth, and infiltrated your place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some advanced ultratechnologies! O: Come again?
C: I want to buy some ultratech.

O: Oh, I thought you were complaining about the governmental system! C: Oh, heaven forbid: I am one who strictly observes the ramifications of Clemmenson's Law!
O: Sorry?
C: 'Ooo, Ah mihnd mah own busihness, 'yer forced too!

O: So they can go on governing, can they?
C: Most certainly! Now then, some tech please, my good man.
O: (lustily) Certainly, sir. What would you like?

C: Well, eh, how about a little Utility Fog. O: I'm, a-fraid we're fresh out of Utility Fog, sir.

C: Oh, never mind, how are you on artificial immune systems? O: I'm afraid we never have that at the end of the week, sir, we get it fresh on Monday.

C: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeoman, four ounces of neural growth factor, if you please.
O: Ah! It's beeeen on order, sir, for two weeks. Was expecting it this morning.

C: 'T's Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, genetic engineering for augmented intelligence? O: Sorry, sir.

C: Neurohormones?
O: Normally, sir, yes. Today the van broke down.

C: Ah. Uplifting?
O: Sorry.

C: Self-optimizing compilers? Continuously optimized products? O: No.

C: Has the Internet become self-aware, per chance. O: No.

C: Forced evolution?
O: No.

C: Vingean headbands?
O: No.

C: Collaborative filtering?
O: No.

C: Neural reprogramming?
O: No.

C: Ontotechnology?
O: <pause> No.

C: Megascale spacetime engineering?
O: No.

C: Telepathic communication?
O: No.

C: EURISKO, Copycat, Cog, Deep Blue, HEARSAY II, Webmind, Chessmaster 2000? O: No.

C: Cyc, perhaps?
O: Ah! We have Cyc, yessir.
C: (surprised) You do! Excellent.
O: Yessir. It's..ah,'s a bit crystalline...
C: Oh, I like it crystalline.
O: Well,.. It's very crystalline, actually, sir.
C: No matter. Fetch hither the fromage de la Douglas Lenat! Mmmwah!
O: I...think it's a bit more crystalline than you'll like it, sir.
C: I don't care how bloody crystalline it is. Hand it over with all speed.
O: Oooooooooohhh........! <pause>
C: What now?
O: The otter's eaten it.
C: <pause> Has she.
O: He, sir.


C: Neurosilicate interfaces?
O: No.

C: Hedonic engineering?
O: No.

C: Quantum computing?
O: No.

C: Amplified willpower?
O: No.

C: Nanotechnology?
O: No, sir.

C: *have* some Singularities, don't you?
O: (brightly) Of course, sir. It's a Singularity shop, sir. We've got--
C: No no... don't tell me. I'm keen to guess.
O: Fair enough.

C: Uuuuuh, Fast Burn Transcendence.
O: Yes?

C: Ah, well, I'll have some of that!
O: Oh! I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mister Festburnt Rance-Evans, that's my name.


C: Wormhole computing?
O: Uh, not as such.

C: Uuh, accelerated neurons?
O: no

C: Group minds,
O: no

C: Nanocomputers,
O: no

C: Borganisms,
O: no

C: Descriptor theory,
O: no

C: Hansonian accelerated economy,
O: no

C: Belgian blue-sky research?
O: Not *today*, sir, no.


C: Aah, how about seed AI?
O: Well, we don't get much call for it around here, sir.
C: Not much ca-- It's the single most popular Singularity in the Universe!
O: Not 'round here, sir.

C: <slight pause> and what IS the most popular Singularity 'round hyah?
O: Uploading, sir.
C: IS it.
O: Oh, yes, it's staggeringly popular in this area, squire.
C: Is it.
O: It's our number one best seller, sir!
C: I see. Uuh...uploading, eh?
O: Right, sir.
C: All right. Okay. 'Have you got any?' he asked, expecting the answer 'no'.
O: I'll have a look, sir... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.

C: It's not much of a Singularity shop, is it?
O: Finest in the galaxy!
C: (annoyed) Explain the logic underlying that conclusion, please.
O: Well, it's so clean, sir!
C: It's certainly uncontaminated by Singularities....
O: (brightly) You haven't asked me about neurohacking, sir.
C: Would it be worth it?
O: Could be....
O: Told you sir....

C: (slowly) Have you got any neurohacks?
O: No.
C: Figures. Predictable, really I suppose. It was an act of purest optimism to have posed the question in the first place. Tell me: O: Yessir?

C: (deliberately) Have you in fact got any sharp discontinuities in technological progress at all.
O: Yes,sir.
C: Really?


O: No. Not really, sir.
C: You haven't.
O: Nosir. Not a scrap. I was deliberately wasting your time,sir.
C: Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to wipe you out in a nanowar.
O: Right-0, sir.

(The customer takes out a canister of military goo and reduces the owner
to a puddle of boiling slag.)

C: What a *senseless* waste of sentient life.

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