Robin Hanson on Singularity
Robin Hanson of GMU talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the idea of a
technological singularity--a sudden, large increase in the rate of growth due to
technological change. Hanson argues that it is plausible that a change in technology could
lead to world output doubling every two weeks rather than every 15 years, as it does
currently. Hanson suggests a likely route to such a change is to port the human brain into a
computer-based emulation. Such a breakthrough in artificial intelligence would lead to an
extraordinary increase in productivity creating enormous wealth and radically changing the
returns to capital and labor. The conversation looks at the feasibility of the process and the
intuition behind the conclusions. Hanson argues for the virtues of such a world.
Moravec's paradox is the discovery by artificial intelligence and robotics researchers that,
contrary to traditional assumptions, high-level reasoning requires very little computation,
but low-level sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resources. The principle
was articulated by Hans Moravec, Rodney Brooks, Marvin Minsky and others in the 1980s.
As Moravec writes, "it is comparatively easy to make computers exhibit adult level
performance on intelligence tests or playing checkers, and difficult or impossible to give
them the skills of a one-year-old when it comes to perception and mobility."