Posted by: graemebird | August 2, 2006

Singularity Draft II: The Cobbling Together.

Ok I wanted to show that while a lot of the ideas that Singularity supporters have are very good the one thing they get wrong is this idea of a….. well….. a singularity……. Or an even better analogy would be THE EVENT HORIZON..

All this talk associated with the singularity. I like all that stuff. But this idea of an event horizon is not going to happen. If we found a cure for ageing all of a sudden that would be A WATERSHED but no event horizon.

There is much to learn from these speculations about the alleged SINGULARITY. And I would refer people to Damien Brodericks book: THE SINGULARITY.

For one thing it should spur people on to the realisation that if we get public policy right we might be able to get Economic Growth rates at double digits indefinately. Even at greater then 20%.

But that single point in time: Aint going to happen.

Now I am yet to explain why it aint going to happen. But I have to talk AROUND the subject for awhile. In a pretty repetitive way. And so what I’ll do is cobble together everything tangential I’ve written about it so far.
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The former Singularity thread:

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The Singularity
I started a thread heaping abuse on Peter Kemp and it wound up inadvertantly morphing into a thread about the singularity.

I want to clear up a few things about the ideas associated with this concept.

I’ve listened to Damien Broderick (I believe) on the radio and read his book.

I didn’t want to heap derision on his book generally. Its chock-full of fascinating forward-looking stuff. And I don’t want to say that I’m against these ideas about transhumanism.

A lot of that stuff is inevitable if we can maintain our freedom. It starts with Titanium knee-joints and then moves onto the replacing of decaying brain cells (a tiny bit at a time) with powerful chips…… Replacing them while you are still concious so that you notice your mental power pick up a notch with each small operation while you ensure the continuity of your identity. (See Bart Kosko…..”Heaven In A Chip”)

These tracts on the singularity put together enourmously forward-looking ideas. But there is a flaw in them. A basic misunderstanding of how the world works.

The only chance that there would be a sort of “End To History” or a point in time that seperated all of history into the world before the date ??/??/?? and the world after the date ??/??/?? would be the announcement that there was a cheap procedure for ending and reversing the ageing process.

I’ll explain WHY soooner or later. But I would make the argument that we are already at the stage where if we get things right we can beat death. Or at least cheat death indefinitely.

And we should bear this in mind EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY AND WITH EVERY SUBJECT WE TALK ABOUT. Because we are playing for VERY high stakes.

The greatest drama ever is thought to be HAMLET although in the 19th century others might have argued KING LEAR.

But you and I are playing for much higher stakes then either Hamlet or Lears’ daughter Cordellia.

Since though their dramas affected their own lives and the lives of many others all those involved had only (if they were lucky) an allocation of something close to three score and ten years to throw onto the gambling table.

Whereas WE face a situation where those of us sufficiently wealthy under the age of about 60 might hit a sweet point where we can have the POTENTIAL to live forever.

So I’m all for these things that Broderick and others talk about. I’m right into that sort of Jive.

But its this fissure in the course of history that is implausible (cure for ageing alone excepted).

And sooner or later I’ll get round to explaining why.

Imagine if you will a factory. And in this factory they make some sort of mix. Perhaps its bulk multi-vitamins to be shipped off to other factories which will turn them into pills. Lets just call it STUFF… or widgets as the economists like to say………..

(More to come)
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From the comments on this blog:

Jason Soon Says:
August 1st, 2006 at 5:55 am e
come on Graeme. when are you going to start writing your own material and stop giving free publicity to LP? I was going to include a post by you on that ‘around the young oz blogs’ round up on catallaxy but your singularity post still isn’t developed,

graemebird Says:
August 1st, 2006 at 7:11 am e
Yeah. I could do that Singularity post. What I have in mind is to really show just how complex your average factory is. There is a bit of spadework to it.

And you have to bear with me Because I’m going to lay out this hypothetical factory situation in some detail. Then I’ll show that while all of the predictions may come true in time. While we may be able to get 20% growth rates if we do things right and while we might live forever and grow more machine-parts and engineered genes then the original as each decade passes……

While all this may and probably WILL come to pass and is part of the reason I work every day to try and avoid catastrophic war…….

The fact is that there will BE NO EVENT HORIZON. Everything will have to come through human agency and good policy. And I will be able to show this I think by over-labouring this explanation of a factory… and then after really labouring it laying it all out in one take-home story with an analogy taken from chemistry.

It will be a bit of a task to read. But I think you’ll like it. But I guess I’m a little tired to do it tonight.

And I make it that stoushing is the first order of business.

Look I think we should work hard to make a lot of the better of these things come true. But no way can we sit back and expect some sort of explosion to come out of a clear bliue sky.

But I’ll explain why quite shortly….
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A COMMENT AT CATALLAXY MADE WHEN I WAS BROODING OVER THE MISUNDERSTANDINGS WHICH LEAD TO THE IDEA THAT A SINGULARITY MIGHT BE POSSIBLE….

11
GMB said,
July 24, 2006 at 3:35 pm

http://catallaxyfiles.com/?p=1398

We need outfits like this now (I was refering to the “mechanics institute”. The existence of which the most righteous Rafe Champion brought to our attention). And we would want people to be able to opt to take up a trade at any age.

Like now if you want to be a sparky or a plumber you have to start very young and work for fuck all doing an apprentiship. Then after a number of years the world is your oyster.

Because the labour market for tradesman is a sellers market. If anything tradesmans wages are undervalued. Hence they are free men. Their services always in demand.

An aquaintance of mine whose a sparky (I think of him as a friend. But one doesn’t wish to be presumptuous) just came back working after taking about six months off. And the real reason he came back is his family started putting pressure on him. They were thinking it was a bit unseemly for a grown man to go on such an extended holiday.

But he could get a job whenever he wanted. So he wasn’t worried at all. And a lot of tradesman work through agencies.

If you have trouble getting work you need an agent. But if work has trouble getting you THEY need an agent and so many tradesman can only be had through these agencies.

One thing I’ve noticed is although the office might be on site in the factory there is still a massive mental block between the office and the factory floor.

And I have the contention that as the technology gets more powerful and productive you have to spend exponentially more on your maintenance department. That is to say your tradesmen.

But I don’t think they are going to realise this back at head office. And its doubtful that those who negotiate the wage contracts are going to be able to convince themselves that they should be paying these various tradesmen more then they pay a lot of their executives.

So I suggest the tradesmen are, as a rule, underpaid but this makes them free men being always in demand.

Many years ago I heard about this concept of pro-active maintenance. The blokes are supposed to get things done in advance before the machines break down. And one would think this would have caught on as the machines get more expensive and hi-tech and the cost in lost production of them breaking down begins to spiral upwards.

When I have suspicions about things like this I tend to ask. And asking the fellows in the agencies I get the impression that this hasn’t happened to any great degree. So whereas the time management books many years ago would warn executives not to allow themselves to get in fire-fighting mode still down on the floor the maintenance guys are chasing the breakdowns rather then fending them off. Or at least they are doing this TO SOME DEGREE.

The laws of supply and demand will not be broken. But sometimes they may be bent. And the upshot of all I’ve said above is that tradesmen (and women by the way) are about the only truly free individuals there are left thanks to all these attempts to jack wages up.

And I think the demand for tradesmen will just keep going up for reasons already discussed.

I had a barber who called herself a hairdresser who was a partner (the one who did all the work) near where I lived. And then I saw her again and she had wound the business up to gain some weight and go travelling (She had gotten to be almost-near-anorexic… But when I saw her again she had a deep tan and rather pleasing muscular legs that I had remembered as being white and too thin)…… Anyhow there she was talking like a free human being deciding to think about herself for once and engage in life and mind expanding travels and adventures. As free as a bird and because she had herself a trade. We might put her trade under the heading of PERSONAL MAINTENANCE. We are talking about a girl who when I last saw her was all of 19.

When Tom.T.Hall wrote about Old dogs and children and watermelon wine being the only things worthwhile he forgot about the capital goods. We can never have enough capital goods. But the more we have the more they must be maintained.

So here is the solution to what to do with those taxeaters when we get them all of the public tit. We need to deregulate and allow for all types of private training schemes. We need to be able to license anyone who is SAFE.

An intelligent public servant ought to be able to be quite quickly trained to be able to make sure he doesn’t do anything that can lead to workplace hazards. And once he gets that far that ought to be all you need to get him licensed.

And the fact is that most people with graduate degrees and Masters degrees and PHD’s were never smart enough to give us guidance on social policy. But they were probably smart enough to be PLUMBERS or electricians or some such thing. And if they could be encouraged to change mid-career into honest work then they would likely be happier and not spending their time screwing things up for the rest of us.

If we could make this a level-playing field for education and get rid of job licensing there would be so many fortunes to be made in designing courseware for stuff such as this. It should be interactive courseware that you could potentially study half drunk on the trains with your laptop…

If it doesn’t pass the half-drunk on the trains with your lap-top test then it has some ways to go as a form of education.
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OK so I’ve cobbled together all the tangential stuff.

For even the second draft to be completed the following will follow in the next two or three days:

1. A Labourious description of what goes on in a sort of GENERIC factory….

2. A ReisMA(Y)NIEAN explanation as to how so many people are considering that the event horizon is possible involving the Keynsian equation Y=C+I+G+X-M

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