Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them. - Laurence J. Peter

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Singularity Summit - James Miller

James Miller is giving a talk on the implications of the upcoming Singularity, including immortality in utopia. He opened by saying that we attendees of the conference have risked death in a car accident to be here. If we believe that if we survive for another fifty years then we'll live forever in utopia, then this wasn't a rational decision. Assume the Singularity will happen in our lifetimes, and assume people will begin to see it coming:

People won't want to die. Construction workers get paid more because it's a dangerous job; expect their wages to increase much more. Expect increased spending on national defence. Expect cryonics to become much more popular.

He asked the audience how many of them were signed up for cryonics. I think about a dozen raised their hands. That is a huge number, he said. Only about 1300 in the world are signed up for cryonics.

Some kinds of education are not such great investments. Why learn a language if you expect universal translators in ten years?

Suppose you knew that one of these three things would happen:
-Everyone in the world would die.
-Everyone in the world would win more than $1 billion (not in an inflation way; assume equivalent value would be created).
-Civilization changes so much that money has no value.

(These are the likely outcomes of the Singularity.)

If everyone knew that one of those three things would happen, no-one rational would save for their retirement. So savings would fall, and interest rates would rise.

He suggests we all attempt to profit from these predictions.

In response to a question, he said that it made sense for him to risk death to come to the conference because speaking at the conference raised his social status, which correlates with life expectancy, which was greeted with laughter and applause.


Blogger Patri Friedman said...

this was the first talk I liked. It's an interesting topic. Of course, the future of interest rates is much more complicated than he suggests. For example, if technology increases the return on capital, that should drive rates up. But rates are higher in developing countries - maybe as the world gets developed and there is less low-hanging fruit, interest rates will drop.

12:07 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home