Re: poly: Modeling Economic Singularities

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Tue Apr 28 1998 - 17:37:56 PDT (Robin Hanson) writes:
>Peter M. writes:
>> ... 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?

 Special purpose assemblers first. I'm claiming it's possible that cpu power
is a limiting factor in AI/uploading research, and there's nothing absurd
about the assumption that all the other limiting factors would be solved
earlier. I'm not claiming it's the only possibility.

>> 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 can't think of a good reason why stone castles would be easier to
build with assemblers than computers, and I can think of some reasons
why there will be more motivation to quickly produce new computer designs.

>> 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.

 Of course. I'm not claiming that everything will become possible overnight.
Let me try to quantify the extent to which I disagree with you.
 Let T1 be the time when sales or commercial use of a nanotech product first
reach 1 million objects at least 1 cm in diameter.
Let T2 be the time when the total value of physical goods (measured using
prices that prevailed at time T1) produced in the wealthiest countries is
100 times what it was at T2.
 I estimate the probability that T2 - T1 will be less than 1 year at 5%,
and the probability that it will be less than 10 years at 50%.
(I am artificial value comparisons across time because it seems less obvious
than it was in the burning the cosmos thread what will have stable value
over the time in question. I'm not claiming these goods will actually be
"worth more" at T2, merely that these economic changes will dramatically
affect people's lives).
 I get the impression that you think they are at least an order of magnitude
less probable, and given that apparently intelligent people such as Drexler
seem to think they are more probable than I do, I find your confidence in
your beliefs a bit odd.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Wed Apr 29 00:40:06 1998

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