HDG: If you are going to have closely merged distributed intelligence, then given 3D circuitry, why not just put your network into one large creature, e.g. a large sphere of artilect material. Signal distances would thus be lower, so it could think faster. But if the underlying technology of the artilect is nanotech based (i.e., at the scale of the nanometer, e.g., storing one bit of information on one atom), then there will be a limit to how big the artilect can become. If it gets too big, it might collapse as a black hole. So one can imagine a network of large artilects, communicating with each other, using signals.
I labeled such a network a “netilect” in my first book. These artilect “nodes” in the network could then specialize and hence form a single distributed intelligence, as you suggest. But, it would be faster to have the network nodes agglomerate into one big sphere. To do this, and to overcome the black hole limit to size, pressure would be on the artilects to scale down, i.e., to find a physics basis for femto-tech, and smaller scales (e.g., string tech).
MLU: One might argue that your work is part hard science, and part fantasy. While laymen may relish your predictions about the future, there are researchers who feel that such speculation is best left to the writers of science fiction. How do you address this?
HDG: The hard science fiction that I enjoyed the most was “plausible future science” that had real awe inspiring vision, and was usually written by scientists themselves, e.g., Arthur Clarke, Carl Sagan, Gregory Benford etc. To dismiss ideas as “science fiction” is risky. Look at the amazing prescience of H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. I’m rather skeptical of people whom I label “CDs,” i.e., “competent dullards.” High intelligence and visionary creativity are psychologically independent skills, so that those few people who are both tend to find the lack of vision of the majority of the highly intelligent people irksome.
I’m smart enough to be a research professor (teaching grad students in computer science, pure mathematics and theoretical physics, to understand the principles of topological quantum computing, that is about to revolutionize computer science by making quantum computing robust and practical) and was born with a rather unusual level of creative vision. In practice, I tend to ignore the CDs and don't respect them. The people I admire the most are the intelligent visionaries, e.g. Darwin, Einstein, Turing, Feynman, Drexler, Moravec, etc.
MLU: On the lighter side: You've stated that you have some 6,000 books in your personal library. How in the world do you manage to take them all with you, whenever you move to another country?!
HDG: It's a major pain. Actually, I’ve never counted yet just how many books I have. In my 2 adjacent (100 sq. m.) apartments, all the available wall space is covered with bookcases. One prof estimated I had 10,000 books. One day I’ll get around to counting them, to settle the issue. To move them all from the US to China in 2006, cost me $15,000. Fortunately my Chinese university paid me back. I suspect that one of the reasons why I’ve been able to survive in 7 different countries (Australia, England, Holland, Belgium, Japan, US, China) is that I tend to live in my ivory tower of books and don't interact very strongly with my external environment. I find the virtual reality of books (and more recently the internet) more intellectually stimulating than the external world.
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