X-Message-Number: 5279
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 1995 19:03:27 -0800
From: John K Clark <>
Subject: SCI.CRYONICS The Singularity is just a horizon


In  #5266   (Thomas Donaldson) On Sun, 26 Nov 1995 Wrote:

                >(as anyone with a hint of maths knows already) exponential
                                >functions DO NOT HAVE SINGULARITIES. [...] Certainly 

                >"exponential" can be very fast. But there will be no
As someone with a hint of math, I know that what you say is true, 
if a bit pedantic. I didn't think the sophisticated readers of Cryonet 
needed the standard caveat that usually accompanies the first use of the word, 
but apparently you do. I was using the term in relation to human affairs, 
not as I would in a mathematical proof, but yes, strictly speaking you are
correct. The rate of change will be very fast but not infinitely fast and it 
will not all happen at one exact point. Because of this, some prefer the term 
"horizon", a slightly fuzzy area (not a point) beyond which we can't see. 
Undoubtedly there will be huge differences in the world a minute, an hour, 
a day, a year, and a million years after the horizon (or singularity) but I 
haven't a clue about what those differences might be, neither does anybody 

In spite of this I still like the term "singularity" better than "horizon", 
it's in more common usage and it does a good job conveying the  flavor of 
what will come. And one more thing, for the record, in general, when I use 
mathematical terms in discussing human beings it should not always be taken 
literally, for example, when I say that somebody's post is going off on a 
tangent, I do NOT mean that it is moving on a line that touches the curve of 
the previous argument at only one point. I just mean it has little to do with 
what we were talking about before.

                >for several hundred years now we have been advancing  

Exponential yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's fast. In the early  
stages the rate of change of an exponential process can be quite small, 
at least compared to what will come later. As for history, I don't think the 
study of that will help us much, because what is going to happen will be  
unprecedented and unique.               

                >I personally will say that this notion of a Singularity
                >stinks of the Christian idea of the Second Coming, after
                >which the virtuous will all be  translated to Heaven
There's no point in me denying it, this topic has semi religious overtones 
that some find unpleasant. As a militant atheist I can sympathize, but I 
think we should follow an argument to where the logic leads us, and not just 
go where we want to go. The laws of nature are what they are, and they don't 
care if we like them or not.

                                          John K Clark        

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