Daily Archives: September 30th, 2007

Investing in the Singularity

From Epicenter – Wired Blogs :

“The singularity will either be really successful, in which [case] we’re going to have the biggest boom ever, or it is probably going to blow up the whole world.”

Such were the words of Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, multi-millionaire Facebook backer, and now the president of Clarium Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund. Thiel took the stage Sunday morning at the Singularity Summit in San Francisco to discuss the effects the singularity — the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence — would have on the world’s financial markets.

As you might gather from his statement above, Thiel’s approach to the topic was rather polar, and his talk centered mainly around how one might go about investing and interacting in a near-singularity world — a world where “there is the possibility of things going extraordinarily well or extraordinarily bad.”

Due to that extreme polarity, Thiel’s talk centered less on what would happen if our robotic/AI overlords decided humans were expendable, and more on a positive singularity scenario.

“Even if you put all your money into gold coins and silver chests and hide it in some forgotten corner of the planet… when the world does come to an end, there will be nothing left to buy and to sell and probably some humans or robots or something else will have come along and taken your gold away from you,” he told a laughing audience.

Operating under the notion that the bad versions of the singularity are things that one simply cannot invest in at all, Thiel said that, in some sense, if you believe in something like this, you have no choice but to bet on it as an investor. And what will those investments be? Well, according to Thiel, the best investments will be the ones that represent the most aggressive bets on the singularity. In fact, we may already be seeing such bets.

Leading up to the singularity, Thiel described “a world full of massive manias, booms and busts on a scale unprecedented in all of history.” Sound familiar? It should, if you agree with his thesis.

“Interestingly, if you actually look at the world’s financial market over the last 25 to 30 years, that is exactly what they have manifested in,” Thiel said. When, instead of stocks moving up six or seven percent a year in a smooth monotonic function (as the conventional wisdom of the market dictates during our age of information glut), they actually got more volatile, this started to intrigue Thiel.

In essence, he argues that each of these booms represent different bets on the singularity, or at least on various things that are proxies for it, like globalization. What’s more, we’ve been seeing them now for over 30 years.

This is an interesting spin on the Singularity not mentioned by Kurzweil, Vinge, Bradbury and other mainstream proponents, the economics of the Singularity.

Will transhuman beings even deal in currency? Will there be any needs for banks? Will there be stock markets? Financial systems and all other supports for the mechanism, will they survive a Technological Singularity?

My personal feeling is that the whole thing will be obsolete should posthuman intelligences occur since mankind itself will be obsolete. A post-materialistic world won’t have a need for money.

Except for gold, silver and platinum possibly, they might need such metals for nanobot and utility fog construction. Those metals last quite a while without corroding!

Original Article