Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Technical Singularity

Being a bit of a scifi geek (which is odd considering my epic fail in all subjects remotely related to science), today's subject absolutely fascinates me.

The technical singularity is the hypothetical emergence of "superintelligence through technological means." The idea was first coined by mathematician John von Neumann and later popularized by Ray Kurzweil  (author, inventor, and director of engineering at Google) and Vernor Vinge (a retired Professor of Mathematics at San Diego State University, and author of the Hugo Award winning novels, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky). I have read enough about Ray to think maybe he's a little nutty but Vernor Vinge? In the realm of scifi, he's numero uno in my book, and considering his credentials I'm inclined to listen when he says the technical singularity could occur as early as 2030. I don't believe it, mind you, because let's face it, that's a mere 17 years away. But I do think it will happen. Just not like anyone thinks it will.

What do you think about this idea?

If you want to read more about the singularity go here, or here.

19 comments:

  1. In other words, an intelligent computer that can think for itself? If we program it to do that it could happen.

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    1. I believe it's possible; I just don't think it will happen that soon. But who knows?

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  2. I think it could happen but are humans smart enough to design something so complex?

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    1. We're already designing things more and more complex all the time and if we continue at the same pace, according to some, it's inevitable.

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  3. I've read one or two of Kurzweil's books, he may have gotten batty over the years, but he's undeniably brilliant. I think this singularity thing has become a religion for him and he's treating like it is one. He's just trying his best to live long enough to see the machines make him an immortal. There is a lot of wish-fulfillment in his later predictions.

    Fascinating subject though. If it happens, I suppose I'm hoping for it to be a pleasant experience for us all.

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    1. He's definitely one very bright guy but I agree with you on the wish fulfillment. Hey, who doesn't want live forever? Only people who bore easily. But I think he and Vinge are right.

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  4. well, surely a machine can be more intelligent than us stupid humans.....

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  5. I'm still not sure what this "singularity" thing is supposed to be. A super computer? A super-evolved human? Well, as long as you understand it and can write about it, that's the important thing! :-)

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    1. Maybe like Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey and how he evolved into the Hal of the sequel, which was god, btw.

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  6. My fear is of course, Terminator... these superintelligent machines will surely spot we are destroying our world and decide the planet can't toleratre humans, yes?

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    1. and technically they would be correct - but only if they lump us altogether. My hope would be that they could differentiate.

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  7. It's an interesting article, and she makes a good argument why it's not a utopia. Sci-fi always seems to be ahead of its time in terms of technological advances. In reality, it takes us much longer to get to those points. But I dont think we'll ever reach a Terminator or Matrix like existence, but we'll def continue to mess things up as we advance. Really kinda scary when you think about it.

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  8. I don't know. Writers put forth theories as to how these things might work in the future, coming up with worst case scenarios. I wonder if looking for the future problems might just help us make sure they don't occur.

    This is one of those things I'm waiting to see if it happens. Because while it might, it might not. And it might look totally different than we expect.

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  9. I don't know when, but, yes, it will happen because we are just stupid enough to do it.

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  10. The future is as soon as tomorrow. There are things in our world that are very close to this at the moment, and that small leap could be made at almost any time. May we all be prepared and hope that somebody has programmed in some benevolence along with the intelligence.

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  11. Stories like Terminator and I, Robot come to mind, but like you said, I wonder if it won't be anything like we expect.
    Interesting!

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  12. Superintelligence without emotions, creativity or a conscience... sounds like a nightmare. Or Sheldon Cooper.

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  13. anything is possible... And a lot can happen in 17 years. Just look at our world 17 years ago. So much has change since then.

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