Re: Extropian Form Letter (was: an exhortation to action)

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Sun, 01 Dec 1996 09:29:22 -0600

> > Actually, that raises a point I hadn't thought of before. Is the
> > Singularity supposed to be incomprehensible to a human raised in/beyond
> > it? This certainly wasn't necessarily the case for Vinge -- "Original
> > Sin" and "Just Peace" are set post-Singularity, yet the star humans
> > actually seem more or less unaugmented. It is their tools that don't
> > make sense, particularly in "Original Sin".
> >

> As for appearing unaugmented, that woud be a natural outgrowth of any
> Prime Directive with regard to presingularity cultures: you must appear
> unaugmented.

No, it's a consequence of the Prime Directive for writing about beings
smarter than you are - you can't. Vinge can't either.

> "Of course, I never wrote the 'important' story, the sequel
> about the first amplified human. Once I tried something
> similar. John Campbell's letter of rejection began: 'Sorry
> - you can't write this story. Neither can anyone else.'"
> - Vernor Vinge
> "The toughest challenge for a writer is a character
> brighter than the author. It's not impossible. Puzzles the
> writer needs months to solve, or to design, the character
> may solve in moments. But God help the writer if his
> abmormally bright character is wrong!"
> - Larry Niven
> "Charlie, of Flowers for Algernon, could learn a dozen
> languages, had an eidetic memory, could read a textbook
> an hour - all the things we ask of a computer. But when
> the rat Algernon keeled over, it took poor Charlie
> completely by surprise. It didn't occur to Charlie that if
> there was a simple surgical method to enhance
> intelligence, with no downside, it would have long since
> occurred as a natural mutation."
> - Eliezer Yudkowsky

- from "Staring Into The Singularity".

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I know.