Elon Musk: I’ll Put a Man on Mars in 10 Years

I find such statements inspiring whether they are meant seriously or not, and whether they come true or not.

Elon Musk shows that you can be rich and spend a lot of money without increasing net existential risk. Not increasing it, not decreasing it, just… risk-free behavior.

Space travel does not significantly lower the probability of existential risk because the majority of the probability mass is occupied by human-indifferent superintelligence, which can casually reach into space if it wants to. Also, self-sufficient space colonies are very far off. You need something miles across at a cost of tens of millions of dollars given current technology.

Another point I’ve made in the past is that as everyone becomes uploads and accelerates their thinking speeds, space will begin to seem very far away. Right now, Luna is 3-4 days away. To beings whose brains are made up of molecular computers with 100 GHz switching speeds, Luna is about 3,000,000,000 days away. That’s about eight million years. An eight million year trip to go to an empty wasteland without any art, culture, or much Kolmogorov complexity to speak of beyond geological and mineral patterns?

The near-term future of humanity is to convert the Earth into a “computronium globe” with a web of trillions of simulated worlds within it. In several subjective millennia, we may consume the Moon, but it will be subjective millions of years beyond that until we colonize Mars. In many billions of years, we may be fortunate enough to consume the Sun.

Comments

  1. Zenna

    I’m as into space travel as the next man, but go easy on the buzz words.

  2. . . . instrument ourselves into a black hole, and perpetuate the great silence for innumerable pre-singularity civilizations throughout the universe. ;-)

  3. I didn’t say that we shouldn’t send out von Neumann probes.

  4. DB

    I suspect that even with uploads and increased mental speeds, there will still be those that will want to explore the “real” world.
    Also if the mental clock speed can be increased, then the mental clock can be slowed down. 1 day to Alpha Centauri, rather than 10^n days.

    • BillK

      The point is that super fast thinking in effect makes the outside world freeze. You *could* freeze your thinking for trillions of years to go into space but posthumans won’t choose that path.
      Miss out on trillions of years of computronium fun – No way!

  5. Heartland

    Existence of uploads implies existence of superintelligence which will most likely never bother going into space or even try transforming Earth into computronium. That seems too slow, inefficient and primitive. Shortly after its inception it’ll probably just invent the optimal universe for itself or skip that option entirely and invent metatechnology to make something better than something governed by physics until it makes/becomes The Perfect Thing.

  6. I’d rather hoped to keep the Earth as a kind of nature reserve. But I guess that’s compatible with turning large amounts of rock under the surface into computronium.

  7. Ker

    All this stuff about space travel is only wishful thinking of humans. Fools will do it of course.
    Why do you need spend energy on costly displacement in space when you can use super-intelligence to become a black hole and suck all the matter around slowly using the gravity.
    You only need to travel to another parts of universe to discover how things are there, and for that it is enough to send a robot and it will send you all the data back. Space travel?! No, thanks. I’m staying here.
    Also, about the billion years seems to me very unrealistic. The sun can be consumed in just a few thousand years, once super-intelligence blows out as Kurzweil says. Where do you think it is going to get the fuel for its super-thinking processes? And you know what, I bet it is going to be the first thing the super-intelligence will do, because such waste of energy is not understandable even for a human brain like mine.

  8. Eric K.

    DOn’t know, Michael

    A computorium may not be the way we decide to live : psychology will allways exist, a psyche need libido

    wait and see

    If time travel is possible,
    then we should take care of ET life

    If we can build a time travel machine , even a information close loop machine …

    When you start this machine this can also be the true singularity … the entire futur in gigasecond

    • Eric K.

      Maybe we allready are in a matrix of reality

      of course

      and the fun is

      what can be more interresting than the singularity time ?

      What can be more fun

      WHat can be more educationnal for cousciouness ?

      … as you may know : nothing appart from our own information can be determined as true ( one of the first philosophical statement )

    • News flash: periods exist.

      People who can’t use proper punctuation when commenting shouldn’t comment at all. Why? It lowers the standards for the entire comments section. One person makes lazy and crappy comments, and before you know it, the entire thing goes to hell.

      If you have the brain cells to lift a glass of water to your mouth then you can use periods.

      • Simon Wood

        I’ve been reading your blog on and off for about 4 years now, and I’ve noticed you becoming increasingly arrogant and intolerant over that period.

        How do you think you are making yourself look by responding in that fashion to someone who may suffer from dyslexia, or for whom English is not a first language? I’m not saying that is the case here, but you simply don’t know.

        A polite request to try and use correct grammar and pronunciation would have sufficed. You are rapidly becoming an intellectual snob.

        • ReaderToo

          I never detect a whiff of snobbishness in any responses. I detect solid, justified arguments and content.

          I’ve been reading this site as long as you and I’m thrilled by the growing intellectual prowess and daring of the author. To lesser minds it may seem impatience and arrogance. The often non-PC, polarizing take on things is exactly what brings me here. Stupidity, carelessness, call it what you will, shouldn’t be tolerated here or in any site of this intellectual caliber. There’s youtube and a million other sites for that.

      • Eric K.

        English is not my mother thong , and i hope you arrogant mEAT will like to try chineese soon

        what would you do regarding other species : oh let’s kill them they are not like us” say the christian cowboy who killed 10 billion indians

        Let’s convert all the matter in the universe in computorium say the stupid christian monkey, and we could be billion of billion

        WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT ? We are billion and they are USELESS … and maybe You and I are also USELESS

        Your utilirian point of view is as stupid as capitalism regarding abundance, and infinite of everything

        WE ALLREADY ARE USELESS / WE ACHIEVED EVERYTHING

        I DON’t think that create a computorium for doing more infinite stupid USELESS tasks is WHAT WE WILL DO

        People who don’t speak and think about economy or politics are STUPIDS ! I hope you don’t take it for you ;)

        A computorium is transhumanist folklore , like heaven

        A sentient being never will emprisoned himself, it will try go OUT OF REALITY, or out of time

        And einstein, steve job and other, are dyslexic

        you are part of the ship of fools you know ?

        • richard holt

          just for the record – MOTHER THONG is the best engrish i’ve heard since i don’t know when

  9. Simon Wood

    Off topic, but don’t know if you’re aware but your site has been flagged as malware by Google, meaning you get a big warning page when browsing in Chrome.

    Apparently, 2 pages on this site link through to globalpoweringgathering.com, which itself is listed as suspicious.

  10. Aragon

    Simon, the forceful and direct rejection of the carelessness of the commenter’s “personal style” which the host exercises, is his right, and duty, to all considerate and intelligent readers; it is the essence of all order, efficiency, progress, and yes, civilization. If you aren’t familiar with the alternative, go visit some other highly popular sites where things have indeed gone and continue to go to ever lower levels of hell.

  11. Simon Wood

    I have no issue with the author of the blog exercising his right to insist on comments being made in a grammatically correct, concise way. I’m something of a grammar pedant myself at times.

    The patronising and condescending manner in which that right was exercised out however does cause me issue, when as I pointed out, Michael has no idea if that particular commenter might have extenuating circumstances.

    It costs nothing to be polite and gracious.

  12. Simon Wood

    I have no issue with the author of the blog exercising his right to insist on comments being made in a grammatically correct, concise way. Indeed, I’m something of a grammar pedant myself at times.

    The patronising and condescending manner in which that right was exercised however does cause me issue, when as I pointed out, Michael has no idea if there may be extenuating circumstances, such as dyslexia, or an unfamiliarity with English.

    It costs nothing to be polite and gracious.

  13. Heartland

    Obvious solution is to start deleting undesirable comments. This way nobody has to spend any time on scolding his audience, and authors of undesirable comments can save time by not bothering writing anything and perhaps even reading the articles. It seems like a win-win solution for all, no?

  14. The point is to bring shame on the idiotic comments, so they stop. People should be afraid of making stupid comments, so they think harder.

    I demand intellectual excellence in the comments section, is that so much to ask?

    Simon, I’ve always been myself, but yes, I am intolerant of people who don’t try very hard when they comment. People like this turn the internet into a cesspool of idiocy. The only way to preserve the fabric of excellence is to not allow a single thread to unravel.

    If people feel offended or have their social discomfort alarms tripped, TOO BAD!!!! Commenting here is a privilege, not a right. This is my server, sort of like my house. You are all visitors.

    I’d rather attack stupid commenters than ban all commenting.

    • EOL

      Is that my social comfort alarm ringing… I think you just triggered it. I feel so warm and fuzzy when I come across straight talk like that in defense of mind excellence.

      You just made yourself clear. That’s how you do it.

      Suggest next time you copypaste a canned reply.

    • Zenna

      Intellectual excellence in comments? That would likely come hand in hand with an article of intellectual excellence and rigour. Predictions written as fact, sprinkled with a healthy dose of hyperbole and a dash of ‘Kolmogorov complexity’ does not make for intellectual excellence. Writing this makes me feel like a troll, but the snobbery is unbearable.

      • Many consider the very concept of dividing comments into “good ones” and “bad ones” snobbery. They see drawing any line as snobbery. Having any standards whatsoever can easily be portrayed as snobbish, and people will follow along in that interpretation, especially if they feel they might be the ones who are excluded.

        Also, the key concept is the insight of uploading causing apparent distance dilation, not the use of the phrase “Kolmogorov complexity”. “Kolmogorov complexity” is just an objective way of saying “complexity”, otherwise the term is very subjective and vague.

        • zenna

          I don’t think anyone would say there is no need to maintain some standard in comments. It is the rudeness to said commenter which irks, and which in my opinion reduces the tone of the comments to a much lower level than any misplaced capitalisation ever could.

          I know very well what Kolmogorov complexity is, it is not an objective way of saying complexity in general, and is certainly not used to describe planets. It is an idea, with a precise mathematical definition that has been recently used in a number of intelligence models, which you have cherry picked and appropriated to something it has very little relevance to, either not understanding its meaning yourself or hoping your readers won’t. That’s all well and good as Scion says below (this isn’t academic literature), but then the demands for intellectual excellence sound a bit misplaced.

          In any case it is your blog and you do as you please, just know that you will turn off many potential readers with such manners.

          • scicon

            I generally find a lot of what you could call intellectual excellence in the comments. You know Michael wants to simply retain that *level* of excellence, or hopefully raise it.

            A canned nice, neutral response that advises you to keep your comments to the point and comprehensible with proper spelling and grammar -not nitpicking but just make sure it looks somewhat like other comments. And NO ascii art, thanks.

          • richard holt

            I wonder with trepidation what enhanced rudeness would be like.

  15. scicon

    Shh… Zenna, don’t be spoilsport. This is as proper futurism as any, and some people do enjoy their hyperbole with a dash of Kolmocomps…

    Snobbery? Nah, rather individualistic thinking – exactly what the world needs more of.

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