Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Limitations of the Singularity

We already have this problem, since we fill up our exponentially growing storage resources (both RAM and secondary storage) faster than they grow, and our programs bloat to fill up our growing processors. Niklaus Wirth, has proposed two new Parkinson's Laws for software: "Software expands to fill the available memory," and "Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware gets faster."
The Limitations of the Singularity

This whole line of thought is perfectly ridiculous. Software gets slower, but it does not get slower at doing the same things. It gets slower by adding new things that it does. It "expands to fill the available memory" because it is making effective use of the memory. Software is dramatically changing all of its capabilities with every generation of hardware. To describe that constant transformation as an argument against the imminence of the Singularity-- well, it's denial, that's what it is.

The question is not how fast Microsoft Windows is going to boot in the future. Completely irrelevant. The application which is most relevant to the Singularity is human-like intelligence. We are going to find code which accomplishes that grail, and then you had better believe that code is going to be well optimized.

Exactly how limiting they will be is hard to tell, but the [sic] definitely will prevent an infinitely fast growth.

If infinite growth is possible-- which intuitively seems unlikely with our physics, but is a real possibility & really is true in some subset of universes-- it'll come about more as a result of energy technologies than information technologies. Only an infinite amount of energy to do computation can hit that sweet spot. Those are the universes where the Powers truly do become Gods.



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