Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Sun Apr 26 1998 - 14:43:42 PDT

>As we get closer to nanotech and superintelligence (either will
>quickly lead to the other), a race will begin to get there first. The
>winner of this race, the "leading force" in Drexler's terms, will
>obtain total power, because a singularity-like pace of development
>means that even a lead of a mere year or so will mean the difference
>between all the capabilities nanotechnology cum superintelligence
>will give and the lack of these capabilities.

I realize this claim seems like a consensus among certain groups,
but I still find it incredible, and share Curt's skepticism. If
tommorow Monsanto found it had a workable simple assembler (which
took 20 types of amino acids as inputs and could assemble any 3D array
of such amino acids up to 1mm^3), I don't think they could build a super
intelligence nor take over the world in a year. Nor could
they likely keep the design secret for very long. Now I admit
I haven't thought about this a great deal, so I might be persuaded
by a detailed enough scenario. But I'm suspicious I've not seen
such a scenario written up.

Given how close we are and have come to world government, however,
I do take seriously the possibility that all our solar system will
be under a single government. I don't, however, think it obvious
that a world goverment would be forever stable against rebellion,
breakup, or emigration.

>the leading force can achieve as much fierce competition and
>tooth-and-claw evolution as it likes, even without giving up its
>total power. It simply recreates its competitors as internal

You assume no interaction between your internal competitors and the
internal parts of the world goverment. Such interactions can
induce big costs to imposing and maintaining totalitarian control.

>One conseqence if the singleton hypothesis is correct is that Robin's
>game theoretic analysis of space colonization won't obtain. Game
>theory is only relevant if there are more than one player.

A world government would likely have many internal players, and game
theory is useful for modeling how such players interact.

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 21:47:08 1998

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