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A Layperson's View of Future Technology and Society

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The Singularity

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Singularity Artificial Intelligence

The Singularity

The technological Singularity is the hypothesized creation of smarter-than-human entities who rapidly accelerate technological progress beyond the capability of human beings to participate.

Vernor Vinge originally coined the term "singularity" in observing that, just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to model the singularity at the center of a black hole, our model of the world breaks down when it tries to model a future that contains entities smarter than human.

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Approaching the singularity

Approaching The Singularity

Surfing the web for The Singularity gives me a gnarly headache. No doubt a reaction to asking my brain to find ways of replacing itself.

Both intriguing and frightening, my approach to the Singularity is to treat it like a dessert tray, the further it is away, the less I am infatuated by it.

Through the exponential growth of computer processing power, biotechnology or some other means, futurists have predicted that The Singularity could arrive as early as 2050.

Here are a few reasons why The Singularity might arrive later than expected.


Software is Hard

I agree that by mid-century, hardware or bioware could exist that is capable of housing a superintelligent entity. What we will not have by that time, is the software to utilize it.
Put simply, until my computer is smarter than a trash can, (a real-life receptacle never asks, "Do you really want to throw that away?"), I'm not worried about programmers developing a superintelligence.


Brain Swarming

It has been suggested that before AI experts understand the brain well enough to make up their minds, communities of "dumb" computers could be linked together to program themselves into a superintelligence.

To this scenario, I submit my last family reunion as one example where adding more brains in the room did not increase the overall intelligence of the group.


Good Warning, Dave?

Futurists and science fiction writers are often optimistic when putting a date on future technology. Example: Stanley Kubrick's & Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, A Space Odyssey (1968).


Better Me, Then You

What I cannot push past my comfort date, is the enhanced human brain. It is conceivable that genetics, drugs and/or brain-machine interfaces, could help create a superintelligent brain by the year 2050. Would you mind terribly, if I go first?


By the Way

The path to the pinnacle of humanity is a slippery slope. Is society ready for the precursive power presented by the building blocks of the Singularity--computers, nanotechnology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and information?

Everywhere I look I see vanity, greed, hunger and waste (I'm writing this from a coffee house at the airport). Undesirable human traits could fuel global catastrophes, in the technologically advanced civilization we are becoming.

Long before the arrival of the Singularity, we will need to change our ways. A benign, compassionate and sharing civilization has the best chance to survive the flood of information and technology that is headed our way. --ffa


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Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics

Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics are one of the earliest examples of proposed safety measures for AI. The laws are intended to prevent artificially intelligent robots from harming humans.

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Later, Asimov added the Zeroth Law: "A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm"; the rest of the laws are modified sequentially to acknowledge this.

source: wikipedia

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Technological Singularity Resources

All Links open in a new window. Bold = Recommended - Links do not imply endorsement

Singularity Articles
Title Source Date
What do you think about machines that think? Edge 01/15
The Movie Transcendence Takes On Consciousness and the Singularity Newsweek 04/14
Singularity or Bust: the film Singularity or Bust 11/13
Immortality will be Delivered by the Singularity Say Scientists The Guardian Express 08/13
Humanity's last invention and our uncertain future University of Cambridge 11/12
Rise of the machines The Sydney Morning Herald 07/12
Kurzweil Responds: Don't Underestimate the Singularity KurzweilAi.net 10/11
Paul Allen: The Singularity Isn't Near Technology Review 10/11
The Singularity is Far: A Neuroscientist's View BoingBoing 07/11
Three arguments against the singularity Charlie Stross 06/11
2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal Time 02/11
Singularity and Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky speaks out KurzweilAI.net 08/10
Singularity Summit 2010 in San Francisco to Explore Intelligence Augmentation PRWeb 06/10
Ray Kurzweil's 'The Singularity is Near' movie KurzweilAI.net 06/10
What will physics research look like after the Singularity? io9 06/10
Commentary: Singularity is here UPI 06/10
Singularity 101 with Vernor Vinge H+ 04/09
Six ways to build robots that do humans no harm New Scientist 11/08
Technological singularity Wikipedia 11/08
Dilbert Discovers the Singularity Moral machines 11/08
Brainy Robots To Lead To Longer Unemployment Lines? Wired 10/08
Expectation of Machine Intelligence Could Change Social Behavior Wired 10/08
Intel touts progress toward intelligent computers CNET 08/08
Signs of the Singularity IEEE 06/08
How Long Before Superintelligence? Nick Bostrom 03/08


Singularity Web Sites and Blogs
Title Description
Technological singularity Wikipedia
Acceleration Studies Foundation Future studies group
The Singularity is Near - The Movie Singularity.com
Singularity University NASA Ames


Article Sources
Approaching The Singularity Article by futureforall
Image by futureforall using surfer from wikimedia commons, pie from wikimedia commons and black hole from NASA


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