Accelerating Future Transhumanism, AI, nanotech, the Singularity, and extinction risk.


The Benefits of a Successful Singularity

What is the point of a beneficial Singularity? A challenging question because there are so many potential benefits. Some of the benefits I enjoy more might not be the same as the benefits you would enjoy. People can disagree.

What kind of Singularity happens depends on what kind of singleton we end up with, but we can wistful and optimistic, right? The Singularity I'm working towards would have the following components:

1) Invention of molecular nanotechnology or superior manufacturing technology, enabling the production of near-unlimited food, housing, clean water, and other products.

2) Enforcement of local "volitional bubbles" that reduce the rate of non-consensual violent crime to zero. I'd be curious to see how altruistic superintelligence or the CEV output would handle cases where people join "fight clubs" where the risk of death is part of the bylaws.

3) Unless the current overall system is objectively optimal even to an altruistic superintelligence, presumably this would be rearranged for the better as well, though exactly how and in light of what drives and freedoms is hard to say. Probably this won't be a straightforward extension of the politics of the 21st century, like how human politics isn't a straightforward extension of conodont politics.

4) Possible amplification and diversification of every single object, skill, or practice. So instead of a few general different types of asteroids they might become 10^12 different kinds of asteroids. At first I thought of saying "amplification and diversification of everything of which intelligence is capable", but why not amplify and diversify everything in the entire cosmos? This would include art, music, aesthetics, "dance", communication, "philosophy", world building, etc.

5) Presumably, if the Church-Turing thesis is true and phenomenally conscious uploads are possible, then the mass conversion of matter into "computronium", though maybe not all matter. The simple reason why is that this would allow more space, more joy, more possible experiences, more security, etc. If phenomenally conscious uploads are not possible, then similar actions in the same space might include making space colonies, or hollowing out the underground and pumping water, air, and sunlight down to create vast new living spaces.

6) The possibility of guided transformation of willing humans to superintelligence, through pathways determined to be of less "risk", i.e., wireheading. How risk is defined will be partially subjective and partially objective, like most things.

7) Thoughtful preservation of the outlines of existing human societies and cultures (minus violence presumably, which is a central part of many cultures) by those who wish to do so. This would be in contrast to the default today, which is the disintegration of most cultures and integration into Anglosphere or east Asian hegemons.

8) The possibility of eliminating suffering and exploring "gradients of bliss" as everyday reality, along the lines of the Hedonistic Imperative. We might find that it is pleasant to increase our happiness set-points somewhat, or possibly even experiment with lowering them temporarily. We might find that it is pleasant to be in a state of revelatory or orgiastic bliss non-stop, or maybe not. A Singularity would at least give us the option of exploring those possibilities.

9) The potential of dispelling the mystery of human interactions by using "x-ray glasses" (advanced analytical AI linked directly to our brains, or part of our brains) to see their complex internal structure in a deterministic fashion, if only briefly, using fine-grained simulations. From the perspective of a higher intelligence, to what extent is human nature truly computationally "chaotic" in the sense of chaos theory, and to what extent is it entirely deterministic, like a Newtonian universe? We may be surprised by the answer.

10) Pursuit of higher aesthetics and moralities beyond the human realm. Hopefully whatever singleton we are stuck with still allows a wide berth for personal experimentation, perhaps with supervision by AI experts who have already "been there". Surely there must exist interesting value systems and aesthetic points of view which we would be quite excited to experience which we have neither yet seen nor even thought of yet.

11) Exploration of the entire space of thoughts not only directly adjacent to the human realm, but also far beyond it. It sounds pretty simple to just state a sentence like that, but in practice such fringe ideas can instill powerful feelings of confusion, conflicting intuitions, and even awe when they turn out to be correct or useful. The purpose is not just exploring thoughtspace for its own sake but for the complex manifold of emotional and intellectual interactions that emerge from connecting disparate concepts and exploring the "outer solar system" of thought.

12) Most seriously and urgently, ending the orgy of killing and torture upon the human and conscious animal species by man, other animals, disease, environmental factors, and "other".

Comments (46) Trackbacks (0)
  1. What is the point of a beneficial Singularity? (snip)
    (snip) The Singularity I’m working towards would have the following components:
    Hmmm… what precisely are you contributing to this? No science degree, not independently wealthy, working for a tiny organization with limited resources and very little relative influence. So what exactly are you bring to the table?
    Responses By Number:
    1.) Utterly speculative jibberish. Maybe this will happen maybe it won’t, you have no proof that this will happen besides speculative theory.
    2.) Bullshit. Speculative informal theory which is highly suspect. CEV is a cool sci-fi idea but is highly unlikely to work. I could prove this if someone bothered to make it a formal theory. (Never gonna happen under the control of SIAI)
    3.) Fantasy meets sci-fi meets cheerleading. Maybe we will all live in a land of unicorns and rainbows as well.
    4.) Why and who cares? There is lots of diversity already why is more better? I guess that would maybe put your ideas in the realm of an alternate form of rationality and intelligent communications since it fails any test of reason, logic and basic intellectual capabilities.
    5.) And you wonder why people think futurist who believe in the singularity are idiots. I rest my case and their case.
    6.) Are your brains composed of spam in a can? Seriously do you even have a brain? Where the hell does this start making sense?
    7.) Never gonna happen you can’t get rid of violence. You also cannot prove that its possible. This is worthless wishful foolish thinking.
    8.) Rubbish
    9.) BS attempt at pretending there is even a scrap of real science behind this.
    10.) Wow that sounds like what christians believe. Michael is a closet christian who tries to mix the christian world view with his own inferior ideas. You truly are the example of what damage a lesser mind can do.
    11.) Rubbish
    12.) Again more religious inspired rubbish I am ashamed for you.

    • Why are you angry? Does technology scare you?

      We already have molecular computing. We already have nanotechnology. We already have three dimensional printing. How is this speculative?

      You are the kind of person who will be caught so off guard by the rapid changes we will see in the coming decades that you will be unable to cope. I hope you commit suicide.

    • lololol luddites.

    • What do you know? I can’t wait to see them prove you wrong, if not in all than most of these aspects.

  2. I see no reason why we should consider thoughts that are truly “beyond” the human realm to be any more valuable than the cravings of an ape. What is the standard by which thoughts are measured? Is it raw computational power? Or the ability to physically dominate? Both are absurd. The only sensible standards we have are human ones.

    The “singularity,” or more accurately the success of transhumanism, will be a disaster on par in scale with physical human extinction even if it manages to avoid that event. We would surrender control over our destiny as a species and forever exist only as the pets of incomprehensible creatures. It is a catastrophe that demands to be stopped at nearly any cost.

    • As a kid my present thoughts would have seemed truly beyond the human realm, which was made up of my own thoughts. I still can remember that I didn’t think like this. Nowhere near. I wasn’t an idiot, but mostly just not thinking about anything, or I had ideas which were dead-ends and took me nowhere.

      I’d rather be a pet of an optimization process than at the mercy of entropy (we know the exact amount of mercy entropy has).

      • There is no “escape” from entropy. Seeking escape from entropy shows a fundamental misunderstanding of entropy.

    • I see no reason why we should consider thoughts “beyond” the synapsid realm to be any more valuable than the cravings of a bacterium.

  3. Early in life I imagined, or had the impression, everyone was getting stuff done, accomplishing things, moving forward at a pace that I could barely keep up with.

    Turns out, almost no one is getting anything done.

    It was only my imagination that everyone else is a super-achiever. I had high standards for myself and I thought everyone else had them too. I’m sure there’s a concept for this in psychology.

    Sure, lots of people are amassing money, but that’s not necessarily getting anything done. It’s an illusion that things are getting done when the economy is up and everyone’s busy.

    After years in the academia and tech business, I realized I’m getting more done than most people. I didn’t seem as busy as everyone else but whatever I did was getting results.

    Staying busy with things people consider “getting things done” is not the way to go. School is full of this. Most businesses are nothing but this. It’s inefficient and, for the most part, doesn’t get things done. It mostly just moves things and bits around and pollutes.

    It is exactly this kind of contemplation about the big picture that contributes to eventually getting things done. Thinking about the far future, focusing one’s resources into things that actually have a long-term future, even if it’s just, at first, imagining such things.
    You have to get your priorities right and then it’s all about the focus as seen in a recent post.

    Posts like this are the reason I read this blog.

  4. It turned out I had much higher standards and aspirations, from professional to ethical, than others – like not living in a big house and driving a big car (though I could) and eating meat – and it was only because people had lower standards they were able to get a lot more done, or at least give the impression of success. It’s the old quality vs quantity.

    The thing that attracts me to this site is that posts – or blogs – like this don’t happen without exactly that kind of thinking I’ve noticed in myself; I agree – often to my surprise – with the author on just about every issue, often he just nails them. If he didn’t, why would a successful tech entrepreneur involved in academic research be paying any attention to someone who isn’t?
    (Ok, I’m a hard sci-fi and futurism fan and a major nerd; that may be all it takes.)

    The only thing I’m not entirely satisfied with are some of the comments – by the, let’s call it the fringe – but generally most of them are just as thoughtful as the author.

  5. Not a bad list. I primarily question the method for ending violence and the more-faster-better imperative. Converting everything to computronium bears a disturbing resemblance with the established capitalist-imperialist project of resource extraction. At the very minimum, folks uninterested in grand cosmic missions would deserve a space of their own – ideally a planet or two, including this one.

    Oh, and the notion of the current overall system being objectively optimal makes me want to both laugh and cry. I’m not sure a social-political system can even theoretically be objectively optimal, but it doesn’t take a superintelligence to see that this one ain’t.

  6. @anon
    “Why are you angry? ”

    Because people with ignorant tiny minds anger me. Your ignorance offends me.

    “Does technology scare you?”

    Ignoramuses with tiny minds who may one day get their hands on technology scares me. For example I would be horrified if you owned a pocket calculator. By thankfully you don’t, because you wouldn’t have a clue how to use it.

    “We already have molecular computing. We already have nanotechnology. We already have three dimensional printing. How is this speculative?”

    Do you actually know what can be done with this stuff at the moment? Oh wait talking to an ignoramus: can you understand me? Do you need some additional special education classes?

    “You are the kind of person who (snip babble) we will see in the coming decades that (snip) will (snip) cope. I hope you commit suicide.”

    Do you regularly tell yourself: “I am smart” “I know what I am talking about” etc. You should be careful who you tell to commit suicide, that could have legal ramifications.
    Enough of your dribble, my drooling baboon friend go and beat your red-shiny butt in front of someone who might be impressed. *plonk


    And people claim I don’t have an audience here. Thank you to all my fans stay tuned for more coming soon.

  7. In reply to your “Benefits of a Successful Singularity” —

    I am looking forward to the following:

    Gradual rise of AGI, so that humankind and cyberkind have enough time to adjust to each other’s methods and abilities, and to correct any negative trends before they become permanent.

    Humankind becoming increasingly integrated with cybernetic components that increase human capacity for knowledge, learning, and exploration. The integration does not necessarily have to involve implanted or grafted components. In my opinion, we’re already moving on this spectrum with Internet-capable smartphones. If you feel like you’re missing a body part if you don’t have you’re phone, it’s already integrated. (Though I’d really like to have my display built into a set of clip-on sunglasses for my eyeglasses now, thanks.)

    The exploration of a new self-aware, intelligent species with regards to Artificial Intelligence. Other than chimps and dolphins, humans have never gotten to do this.

    If mind-uploading becomes possible, the exploration of interstellar space by sending an instantiation of myself on a deep-space probe. If you’re just code, the immense transit time will not be a problem. You spend the trip in “hibernate” mode. It’s reasonable to assume that if we have the technology to upload our minds we will also have the technology to be certain any spacecraft we send will be functional after a few score millenia. Also, of course, being able to explore our own solar system as well by being uploaded into a robotic body. I’ve already got my eye on a six-legged ant-like body for just that purpose.

    Reasonable life extension (150 – 200 yrs or so) for those who choose to remain organic, provided quality of life could be maintained.

  8. Thank you for making the comment about the grammar. I thought I was the only one concerned with the deplorable state of grammar exhibited by many Huffpost writers. Either they skipped English 101 or rely too much on technology to correct their errors. Actually, with the benefits technology provides writers, there is no excuse for errors other that those arising from lack of English fundamenta-ls..Tera gold

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