This "problem" about immortality comes up in much more direct
ways. The notion of ego and self-awareness has been the bedrock of
the hardheaded rationalism of the last few centuries. Yet now the
notion of self-awareness is under attack from the Artificial
Intelligence people ("self-awareness and other delusions").
Intelligence Amplification undercuts our concept of ego from another
direction. The post-Singularity world will involve extremely
high-bandwidth networking. A central feature of strongly superhuman
entities will likely be their ability to communicate at variable
bandwidths, including ones far higher than speech or written messages.
What happens when pieces of ego can be copied and merged, when the
size of a selfawareness can grow or shrink to fit the nature of the
problems under consideration? These are essential features of strong
superhumanity and the Singularity. Thinking about them, one begins to
feel how essentially strange and different the Post-Human era will be
-- no matter how cleverly and benignly it is brought to be.
From one angle, the vision fits many of our happiest dreams:
a time unending, where we can truly know one another and understand
the deepest mysteries. From another angle, it's a lot like the worst-
case scenario I imagined earlier in this paper.
Which is the valid viewpoint? In fact, I think the new era is
simply too different to fit into the classical frame of good and
evil. That frame is based on the idea of isolated, immutable minds
connected by tenuous, low-bandwith links. But the post-Singularity
world does fit with the larger tradition of change and cooperation
that started long ago (perhaps even before the rise of biological
life). I think there are notions of ethics that would apply in such
an era. Research into IA and high-bandwidth communications should
improve this understanding. I see just the glimmerings of this now
. There is Good's Meta-Golden Rule; perhaps there are rules for
distinguishing self from others on the basis of bandwidth of
connection. And while mind and self will be vastly more labile than in
the past, much of what we value (knowledge, memory, thought) need
never be lost. I think Freeman Dyson has it right when he says :
"God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our
[I wish to thank John Carroll of San Diego State University and Howard
Davidson of Sun Microsystems for discussing the draft version of this
paper with me.]
Annotated Sources [and an occasional plea for bibliographical help]
 Alfve'n, Hannes, writing as Olof Johanneson, The End of Man?,
Award Books, 1969 earlier published as "The Tale of the Big
Computer", Coward-McCann, translated from a book copyright 1966
Albert Bonniers Forlag AB with English translation copyright 1966
by Victor Gollanz, Ltd.
 Anderson, Poul, "Kings Who Die", If, March 1962, p8-36.
Reprinted in Seven Conquests, Poul Anderson, MacMillan Co., 1969.
 Asimov, Isaac, "Runaround", Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942,
p94. Reprinted in Robot Visions, Isaac Asimov, ROC, 1990.
Asimov describes the development of his robotics stories in this
 Barrow, John D. and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological
Principle, Oxford University Press, 1986.
 Bear, Greg, "Blood Music", Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact
June, 1983. Expanded into the novel Blood Music, Morrow, 1985.
 Cairns-Smith, A. G., Seven Clues to the Origin of Life, Cambridge
University Press, 1985.
 Conrad, Michael et al., "Towards an Artificial Brain", BioSystems,
vol 23, pp175-218, 1989.
 Drexler, K. Eric, Engines of Creation, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986.
 Dyson, Freeman, Infinite in All Directions, Harper && Row, 1988.
 Dyson, Freeman, "Physics and Biology in an Open Universe", Review
of Modern Physics, vol 51, pp447-460, 1979.
 Good, I. J., "Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent
Machine", in Advances in Computers, vol 6, Franz L. Alt and
Morris Rubinoff, eds, pp31-88, 1965, Academic Press.
 Good, I. J., [Help! I can't find the source of Good's Meta-Golden
Rule, though I have the clear recollection of hearing about it
sometime in the 1960s. Through the help of the net, I have found
pointers to a number of related items. G. Harry Stine and Andrew
Haley have written about metalaw as it might relate to
extraterrestrials: G. Harry Stine, "How to Get along with
Extraterrestrials ... or Your Neighbor", Analog Science Fact-
Science Fiction, February, 1980, p39-47.]
 Herbert, Frank, Dune, Berkley Books, 1985. However, this novel was
serialized in Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact in the 1960s.
 Kovacs, G. T. A. et al., "Regeneration Microelectrode Array for
Peripheral Nerve Recording and Stimulation", IEEE Transactions
on Biomedical Engineering, v 39, n 9, pp 893-902.
 Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, Microcosmos, Four Billion Years of
Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors, Summit Books, 1986.
 Minsky, Marvin, Society of Mind, Simon and Schuster, 1985.
 Moravec, Hans, Mind Children, Harvard University Press, 1988.
 Niven, Larry, "The Ethics of Madness", If, April 1967, pp82-108.
Reprinted in Neutron Star, Larry Niven, Ballantine Books, 1968.
 Penrose, Roger, The Emperor's New Mind, Oxford University Press,
 Platt, Charles, Private Communication.
 Rasmussen, S. et al., "Computational Connectionism within Neurons:
a Model of Cytoskeletal Automata Subserving Neural Networks", in
Emergent Computation, Stephanie Forrest, ed., pp428-449, MIT
 Searle, John R., "Minds, Brains, and Programs", in The Behavioral and
Brain Sciences, vol 3, Cambridge University Press, 1980. The
essay is reprinted in The Mind's I, edited by Douglas R.
Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett, Basic Books, 1981 (my source
for this reference). This reprinting contains an excellent critique
of the Searle essay.
 Sims, Karl, "Interactive Evolution of Dynamical Systems", Thinking
Machines Corporation, Technical Report Series (published in Toward
a Practice of Autonomous Systems: Proceedings of the First European
Conference on Artificial Life, Paris, MIT Press, December 1991.
 Stapledon, Olaf, The Starmaker, Berkley Books, 1961 (but from
the date on forward, probably written before 1937).
 Stent, Gunther S., The Coming of the Golden Age: A View of the End
of Progress, The Natural History Press, 1969.
 Swanwick Michael, Vacuum Flowers, serialized in Isaac Asimov's
Science Fiction Magazine, December(?) 1986 - February 1987.
Republished by Ace Books, 1988.
 Thearling, Kurt, "How We Will Build a Machine that Thinks", a workshop
at Thinking Machines Corporation, August 24-26, 1992. Personal
 Ulam, S., Tribute to John von Neumann, Bulletin of the American
Mathematical Society, vol 64, nr 3, part 2, May 1958, pp1-49.
 Vinge, Vernor, "Bookworm, Run!", Analog, March 1966, pp8-40.
Reprinted in True Names and Other Dangers, Vernor Vinge, Baen
 Vinge, Vernor, "True Names", Binary Star Number 5, Dell, 1981.
Reprinted in True Names and Other Dangers, Vernor Vinge, Baen
 Vinge, Vernor, First Word, Omni, January 1983, p10.
 Vinge, Vernor, To Appear [ :-) ].
For more (online) information, visit Anders Sanberg's Singularity page. See also these comments on Vinge's Singularity ideas by prominent Transhumanists, and his replies.
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