Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Importance of Thoughtful Speculation

Much of the writing I plan to do on this blog will be highly speculative.  Hopefully, no one will mistake my willingness to engage in speculation with intellectual hubris.  I am aware of how difficult it is to predict the future, and my willingness to speculate about the singularity does not correspond to a high degree of confidence.  The word "singularity" was been adopted specifically to emphasize how the future will become nearly unfathomable after the advent of super intelligence, which I more or less agree with.

But that leaves us in a bit of a conundrum.  If we can't predict anything at all after the singularity, but we think the singularity is coming soon, then that implies that we can hardly plan for our future at all.  I think we can do a little bit better than that.  My hope is that with a robust human discussion we may succeed in developing some very general principles that will allow us to guess about life after the singularity.  Those guesses will give us a framework we can use to think about what we can do now to steer ourselves towards a good singularity outcome.  Though our guesses may be wrong, the alternative to trying is to do no planning and hope that everything just works out nicely on its own.  Considering some of the guess work that people have already been doing, doing nothing and merely hoping appears likely to lead to the worst possible outcomes.

For that reason, I think that careful speculation about life after the singularity is extremely important.  I hope to contribute to developing general principles, by proposing ideas and exposing them to critique.  Through this process I expect my thinking will evolve, and I will find that some of the ideas I proposed do not make much sense, but others do.  That is the spirit with which I post these speculative entries.