Robin Hanson Watch
By Arnold Kling
The IEEE Spectrum symposium that I mentioned in the previous post includes Robin’s thoughts on The Economics of the Singularity.
in each economic era the question of whether growth speeds up or slows down depends on two competing factors. Deceleration typically ensues as innovators exhaust the easy ideas—the low-hanging fruit. But acceleration also ensues as the economy, by getting larger, enables its members to explore an ever-increasing number of innovations.
…If a new transition were to show the same pattern as the past two, then growth would quickly speed up by between 60- and 250-fold. The world economy, which now doubles in 15 years or so, would soon double in somewhere from a week to a month. If the new transition were as gradual (in power-law terms) as the Industrial Revolution was, then within three years of a noticeable departure from typical fluctuations, it would begin to double annually, and within two more years, it might grow a million-fold. If the new transition were as rapid as the agricultural revolution seems to have been, change would be even more sudden.
Obviously, read the whole thing.
Robin believes that brain emulation is the path to the singularity. I do not think that it is possible to build a brain emulator, because the brain depends on all of the physical experiences of the body. To me, having a brain emulator means you could unplug my brain, plug in the emulator, and the emulator would be able to direct my body to catch a baseball. Without having lived in my body while I was learning to catch a baseball, I do not see how an emulator could do that.
I’ve made that argument to Robin in person, and obviously he finds it unconvincing.