Re: poly: Modeling Economic Singularities

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Sun Apr 26 1998 - 14:20:40 PDT

Peter M. writes:
>>A lack of ownership would deter investment, but would not stop a race to
>>be first with any investment privately worth taking.
> But doesn't it substantially delay the point at which the investments
>become worth making compared to when that would be if the investors got
>most of the benefits?

It might or it might not.

> ... I'm assuming the availability of machine intelligence will make
>programming problems much less of a bottleneck.

Which were you assuming first, assemblers or AI, and why do you think the
time between these events would be short?

> What would people be building that would use up much of the world's sand
>before assemblers were able to produce computing power?

I don't know, but whenever one can build replicating miners to process that
sand, people would find things to do with it, even if computer designs
weren't ready. Maybe build big stone castles?

> I'm not refering to markets. I'm talking about the replacement of quite
>specialized tools whose location is important with more generic tools,
>(e.g. a fully general purpose assembler would replace a wide variety of
>special purpose manufacturing machines with one generic type of manufacturing
>capital), and increased ability to move things of value around easily.

There are lots more kinds of capital than different shaped physical tools.

> I'm imagining one unusually large jump in the importance of assemblers
>as they make the transition from primarily research phase to widespread
>use. There will still be much trial and error needed to go from the
>specialized initial versions to general purpose versions, but I think
>each succeeding generation has the potential to be easier to build than
>the prior generation because of the improved tools each generation provides.

I'm not sure what "large jump" or "easier to build" means.

> I'm assuming that a few dozen uploaded humans or the artificial equivalent
>would provide adequate diversity of abilities to accomplish the kind of
>changes I have in mind.

Ah, I thought you meant some other AI type.

> The need for tech support varies widely from product to product. Even
>if AI doesn't make it cheap, there will be some products which don't need
>it and whose growth rates won't be limited by it.

But there may be diminishing returns to growth only in such products.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Sun Apr 26 21:25:01 1998

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