I think you’re right and I will update my view. Just trying to reconcile this with past failures to get meaningful self improvement.
Great—yeah just because it’s an attractor state doesn’t mean it’s simple to achieve—still needs the right setup to realize the compounding returns to intelligence. The core hard thing is that improvements to the system need to cause further improvements to the system, but in the initial stages that’s not true—all improvements are done by the human.
The core hard thing may have been the TPU/RTX GPU. Had commercial industry started shipping fissionable material by the gram in some counterfactual world where the possibility of making a nuke with it wasn’t taken seriously, how long do you think it would have taken for someone to do the remaining steps? As you mention it’s an attractor state and assuming enriched uranium is now readily available, people would experiment, building neutron amplifiers at first. Then they would use the information to assemble a self sustaining fission pile—possibly delayed a few years if the economy is took a dive—and more information gain (and the plutonium) makes the nuke inevitable.