Kurzweil doesn’t say the same thing will accelerate, but rather that we’ll keep replacing technologies to gain the next level of acceleration. These are entirely different. For example, Moore’s law isn’t just about shrinking semiconductors — it is actually about lots of technology replacement — when lithography stops working, they use ion beams, etc. It is a whole bunch of technology S-curves, each doing it’s part to continue the pace of progress.
Natural things don’t keep growing exponentially because of negative feedback. For example, when a population uses up all its food it can’t grow bigger. However, humans use technology to overcome such limitations. For example, if we only had our ancient hunting and gathering technology we could not have a population of 6 billion people, but we replaced hunting and gathering with agriculture and then kept improving the agriculture technology to get to where we are. And there is no end in sight — we could grow food in massive solariums with genetically modified meat grown in petri dishes, etc.
So Kurzweil’s point is that we’re layering on multiple technology S-curves on top of each other, and we’re using technology to overcome each negative feedback effect that would otherwise limit progress.
I don’t know if this is a business proposal for Cosmic Conquest or just the back-bone for Sci Fi stories:
manned space travel is very problematic- zero gravity and radiation makes space too hostile to biology for any
future with humans flying in some sort of spacecraft to colonize space- however there IS a solution: terraformed
near earth asteroid colonization – the earth’s thick atmosphere piled on a gravity well is the safest haven for our
kind of life we know of- but inside caverns of a stable rotating asteroid tens of km wide is an even safer potential
haven for life than a terrestrial planetary surface-
such an asteroid would provide earth-like gravity through centrifugal force of rotation- most asteroids are rubble
piles of loosely bound material- but some are extremely dense rock and metal- once the cores of ancient planets in
the early solar system that where pulverized- many with elliptical orbits bringing them close to the sun would have
caverns from flexing metal and melting water ice- in the asteroids with the right stable rotation the caverns deep
beneath the surface could provide gravity from the centrifugal force- water- and air extracted from the water-
there would be all the minerals needed to mix with compost and make soil- and all energy and light piped in directly from
solar collectors and optics “hanging” from the surface and linked to the caverns deep inside through fiber optics
and mirrored channels –
these caverns could be of immense size- several cubic km- big enough for small cities and large lakes with
forested islands and mountains- and they could be excavated to be even larger over time – eventually a large
torus habitat like an O’Neil Ring could be excavated many kilometers deep inside the asteroid providing hundreds-
even thousands of square km of landscape with a sky 3-5 km high- the core-ward floor of the caverns and torus
would be the ‘ceiling’ of the sky – projecting real sunlight in diurnal cycles and a blue [or whatever color] sky-
and stars at night- perhaps even augmented by exposure so that the naked eye can see the brilliant colors of the
these terraformed caverns would be the safest place that life could ever know- no gamma ray burst or solar flare
would penetrate more than a few meters from the surface- but the terraformed caverns would be kilometers
deep- same for impacts- rocks that would destroy a city on Earth wouldn’t even cause a tremor inside the
caverns- they might destroy equipment hanging from the surface- but that is easily repaired- space based optical
telescopes outside would provide ample warning- and it might even be possible to steer the asteroid with engines
or nukes detonated near the surface to avoid collisions- and even eventually change solar orbit after aeons when
the sun starts to die- and even after the Sun died destroying the earth terraformed asteroids could convert to
star seed ships – switching to tokamak fusion reactors instead of solar power to provide energy and light in the
void between stars-
even though the ratio of asteroids that meet all the desired criteria is small- there are so many asteroids that
there still are half a dozen known and dozens of unknown candidates that would fit the bill: 10-100 km wide-
symmetrical- barrel/egg-or spherical shaped- rotating so that the surface is around .5-1 earth gee- an asteroid made
of strong dense metals and minerals with abundant water ice- a stable elliptical orbit that brings it close to earth
then out past mars toward the asteroid belt and Jupiter in 2-4 years per orbit- slightly off the ecliptic plane so it
never encounters other rocks- evidence of deep caverns and channels made form melting water ice for excavation
once all the few dozen closer asteroids are colonized they would provide a ferry service to the outer solar
system- then asteroids out there could be colonized and terraformed- eventually one could start converting
non-optimal asteroids by reshaping there masses and inducing the proper rotation- and when all that material is
used up you could start dismantling the ice giants and dead moons and larger rocks like Mercury and Venus-
eventually you could easily convert hundreds of earth masses into a few BILLION of these 10-100 km rotating
terraformed asteroids- each with hundreds to thousands of square km of terraformed land- providing thousands to
millions of earths worth of habitable space all much safer and more permanent and adaptable than the safest
earth-like planet could ever allow-
such an endeavor might seem like it would take centuries- but because of accelerating technology this and much
much more can be achieved even with just what is envisionable today-
the conquest of the Multiverse could be accomplished in two decades with this scheme:
start planning and funding- during this period there will be a few space stations including the ISS- a Chinese
and/or Japanese station- and at least one private station using Bigelow inflatable space habitats
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Aerospace – and several private shuttle programs to ferry personnel/supplies
to these stations as well as the current Chinese and Russian rockets-for-rent- this will provide an infrastructure
for anyone with maybe a billion dollars to design a NEAR robot probe/ a robot exploration mission/ and a begin
designing a manned/robot exploration mission to a selected asteroid-
by mid decade you should be ready to launch your two robotic missions- the first will do a fly-by and crash as the
asteroid approaches it’s perihelion near earth and give you all the details about the rock that 20s tech has to
provide- giving you precise topography and geology- then a few months later you rent a rocket and launch your
robot exploration/mining probe mission- this will send several robots with sophisticated chimp-minds and full
telepresence interfaces for operators on earth to “be there”- later generations of robots like Big Dog- they will be
agile like lemurs and will easily “hang” from the rotating surface using pitons and climbing gear- they will have
nano-diamond drills that can cut through the dense rock like butter- burrowing tunnels from the landing site with
little centrifugal force close to the pole of rotation- and advance down the latitudes tunneling just below ground
or hanging from the surface- they will burrow there way to a pre-selected large cavern deep inside the asteroid
near the equator where the centrifugal rotation is near earth gravity then they will prepare areas for future
manned campsite- and start extracting water and rare metals and minerals from choice sites as the asteroid hurtles out
to the outer solar system in it’s first orbit under your control-
with confirmation that the robotic exploration mission has started preparing mining sites and secured a cavern
waiting for the manned explorers to come- you instantly become very rich- investors will fall to you like piglets
groping for their mother-sow’s teat- you will be able to build an extravagant manned mission for the late 20s –
taking much more advanced robots/ suitcase-to refrigerator sized nanotube factories/ gene synthesizers/ matter
printers/ quantum dot factories- and various expandable/inflatable habitats and supplies- and of course more
nano-diamond and graphene drilling gear- and designs to build more at the site- you send your pieces up in
rented-rockets and shuttles [you may own some rockets /shuttles yourself now] – and rent a dock at a station [or-
again- build your own station] to assemble a low-delta v cluster-craft that will use ion engines and earth/moon’s
momentum to slingshot it to the asteroid as it makes it’s closest approach to the earth- minimal fuel and minimal
time outside of the earth’s electromagnetic shield-
but strange things are happening here on earth as the decade closes- BCI Augmented Reality is blossoming into
full immersion Virtual Universes- people are starting to get weird- and smarter- and alien- ever more new and
unfathomable technologies are being “found” by the descendants of Wolfram Alpha and Google mining the
Computational Universe of ideas- by the time you actually launch your manned mission to the asteroid toward
2030 you begin to see your plan is going to change- already you are also taking with you even more advanced
technology that will allow you to do much more grandiose terraforming and design than you originally had hoped!
the matter printers and gene sequencers you end up taking are like magic compared to what you had planned-
instead of simple modular structures that can be turned into simple dwellings or tools or vehicles or machines – and
doing some gene splicing – you will have machines that are closer to the Philosopher’s Stone- they will print-out
complex molecular structures allowing you access to the widest variety of earth gadgets and tools without need
to transport them- they will allow you to print foodstuffs so that setting up a living biosphere isn’t mission-critical-
you can take chances and take time- then when your few dozen explorers do reach the caverns and start further
excavation and mining- they will be able to literally move mountains and erect skyscrapers in days instead of
months and years- the sky will not just be an array of fiber optics and mirrors or even an HD screen but a perfect
holophotonic projection- capable of generating clouds and directing moisture into rain and snow-
and the robots will be essentially PEOPLE- driven by BCI telepresence- perhaps even some pioneering uploaded
mental constructs of former humans- instead of a few dozen men and as many robots you will have hundreds of
robots that can quickly manufacture thousands- and both robots and humans will be intimately linked by BCI into
the Virtual Universes of the Internet-
as 2030 passes the asteroid begins it’s second orbit to the outer solar system under your control- this time with
a half dozen human explorers living in a habitat inside the prepared cavern- they will start mining and sealing the
cavern then terraforming it by the time the asteroid returns to earth in about 2-3 years
the original plan was to have the mining mission start flinging casks of rare metals/minerals to land on the earth for
retrieval as the asteroid approaches earth in it’s orbit- but even before the asteroid makes it out to it’s aphelion
near Jupiter the strange accelerating evolution of culture and technology is causing everything to constantly
change on earth and the asteroid- the matter printers are essentially teleportation gates now- allowing anything
form earth to be sent to the asteroid- they can even print out living material now- animals and even humans are
soon not far away- and the speed at which terraforming is taking place at the asteroid is unfathomable-
by the time the asteroid starts heading back to earth around 2032-3 new strange deities of gestalt minds and AI are
sending machine designs that eat and sculpt and project matter and energy inside the asteroid like a swirling
kaleidescope – reshaping and reinforcing the asteroid into a vast cathedral of diamond caverns and alien biologies
in symbiosis- all saturated with sentient computation of human and other intelligence passing in and out of the
network gates – and you thought your were just building a small village in a cavern this orbit- hoping it would be
filled with air and a pond with some greenhouses- instead by 2035 as the asteroid arrives it is filled with a dozen
major caverns filled with gleaming diamond and graphene fairy towers and lush alien forests with plant-mind
cultures evolving into new societies-
as the asteroid approaches many orders of magnitude more casks of rare metals and minerals poor forth than you
had hoped – not falling to earth but strangely floating – utilizing strange quantum Zeno forces to resist earth’s
gravity- you become so rich that the economy nearly collapses- but then it collapses outright and your fortune
becomes meaningless because the matter printers on earth just cracked true universal utility and can print out any
kind of matter you want- making every material object valueless
you had hoped that a few hundred settlers and pioneers would go out on the third orbit and build a bigger city
and develop a more complete colony so that by 2040 you yourself would join many thousands in an exodus to the
new world- but now your world is already teaming with millions of beings- strange craft and signals are being
hurtled from the earth- arriving at the asteroid as it approaches- filled with people and robots and uplifted cats-
they have also hurled themselves at other asteroids and celestial objects- but before too long they don’t even do
that anymore: hypercomputers have started appearing in the Net- some from gestalts of humans and machines
controlling loops in spacetime to get infinite computation in finite time- others using x-ray laser generated micro-
black hole pairs that rotate so close to the speed of light that they don’t collapse into each other then evaporate
in hawking radiation- instead they remain frozen by warped time and because the center of their mass/energy is
OUTSIDE them at the center of their orbit a NAKED singularity forms there and is stretched open into a disc by the
black hole’s gravity- opening a programmable wormhole that can read/write directly onto quantum spacetime like a
after that beings and material just teleport or are directly materialized from an idea on earth or in the asteroid
colonies- matter printers can now even instantly “print-out” whole asteroid colonies- inhabitants/structures/and all-
directly from the quantum vacuum-and soon gates to other universes are opened by hypercomputers simulating them
and directing their wormhole gates into the simulations- simulations using the event horizons of virtual and artificial
black holes that generate virtual realities using the medium of holographically projected spacetime- JUST like nature-
actual virtual universes- all possible worlds rendered by local physics- all alien worlds- accessible via the new
hyperdimensional network opened by hypercomputation-
in the late 30s your terraformed asteroid colony will transform into a Multiverse Exploring Seed Ship- it’s
immense bio-caverns filled with earth-descended cultures and technology – will plunge along with millions of similar
Earth-Seeds through a gate into another universe on the new Cosmic Network.
it occured to me that this is another good explanation for Fermi’s Paradox: if star systems ultimately evolve into networks of asteriods filled with postsingular artilects and their hypercomputers and hyperspace gates- or presingular biology finding a way to survive the death of the parent star by seeking the safest shelter and best access to resources- if everything moves into asteroids and planetoid habitats then it would be impossible to tell a postsingular civilazation from a dead system full of rubble- they would all look the same from outside- you could have alien colonies in your own solar system and never spot them
a related obvious idea: life may often evolve inside certain asteroids- they often have elliptical orbits that would make them flex and flux in cycles of melting water and gasses eroding caverns – warm wet environments with complex chemistry and cycles of motion- even energy from sunlight through proximity and like plants biology could grow rootlike structures to the surface to collect light via photosynthesis-
life on Earth may have been seeded by an asteroid with such an ecology- and there may be asteroids here in our Solar System with life
TIM GROSS SAYS:the Singularity/Eschaton will naturally and inevitably follow when we finally achieve the goals of Alchemy: the manifestation of a Universal Tool- the Philosopher’s Stone- a thing that can be anything and do anything- that can give you the immortality and knowledge of a god and allow you to open a door to anywhere in any possible space or time-
when Computers were discovered we achieved the knowledge of how to theoretically express such a Universal tool- then we built it in it’s most limited forms – even these limited and tiny machine applications of computation completely changed our society
now in order to build a true Universal tool that combined with man’s will yields gods with full reach to the Multiverse requires a mature computer- a hypercomputer- a computer that has the resources to mine the complete computational universe in trivial time and can run/hack the cosmic algorithm at root-
a hypercomputer requires two things: software and hardware-
until recently both where elusive- the hardware just needed to keep doubling until it reaches the limits of physics but the software seemed like the real hard trick – we thought we would have to figure out how to make ourselves into gods and basically figure out the mind and the universe FIRST then tell an optimal computer how to make it happen- we seemed to mitigate this with the idea that all we need to do is to create AGI- we just need to figure out how to make something smarter than us- then IT can figure it all out –
but Stephen Wolfram I think has put us on the shortcut to bypassing the whole software complexity problem by SEARCHING ALL POSSIBLE programs for whatever works WITHOUT needing to understand how to build it ourselves with limited high level abstraction or even understand how it works when you have it- and not only that you can do it much more cheaply than we thought by using optimal sorting algorithms- knowing the right questions to ask-
this thinking will saturate the meme-space into the sciences and arts [I already do this myself- no longer designing sounds by building complex synth patches- I now use algorithmic searches with random patch generators to get new sounds and even compositions]- there will be a paradigm shift in AI as reverse engineering the brain hits some hurdles when they realize that much of the brain is about how tryptamine neurotransmitters affect the signaling networks- and since all tryptamines are schedule one substances it’s going to be difficult to pick up research that has been on hold since the mid 60s- at the same time Wolfram and copiers will be producing more intelligent and incomprehensible software with searches of large program spaces from sheer hardware advances- and soon after the field of AI will transform from high-level software engineering- to low-level searches for complex problem solving indicative of what we would define as intelligence- the same goes for SETI – and I see SETI and AGI becoming a single field of research: searching the Computational Universe for intelligence
so now all we need in order to achieve the philosopher’s stone is hardware power- since the bulk classical decohered information in our whole light-cone of observability is about 10^30-40 bits and similar amount of ops- it is around and beyond this level of raw computation where a true Oracle machine hypercomputer could accomplish full Concrescence of the entire Multiverse into a single self-conscious and self interactive database- and be able to MANIFEST it’s output in spacetime by shifting through any desired configuration of local physics as a super-observer- thus ‘uploading’ and ‘resurrecting’ all beings in the process and enfolding them and transforming them into gods in the cosmic network-
this is not evocative hyperbole but simple fact- when a universal computer is as big as the entire world-state of a local region of the universe it can EXPRESS any such region and it’s complete history and all other possible histories- so when it sorts through it’s configuration space that space includes all possible local world histories and all observers in the space of programs- ‘uploading’ would only then be MATCHING the observed world state with one of it’s possible configurations and bringing that world state into it’s current bit state- every human and creature that ever walked the earth is then inside the hypercomputer’s active memory-
this hypercomputer will likely not be first manifest as some box of machinery or even a network of machines- it will be the sum of the biosphere itself- during the final gestation prior to the birth of this Omega Point computer all humans will be knit into it’s formative matrix through BCI and the evolving hyperreality of the internet- so humans will be intimately linked into the global network as it reaches full potential – not a separate and obsolete builder
the brain is almost a Turing Oracle in itself- but the wet warm organic chemistry doesn’t have the kind of memory system that makes for good “tape” but is good at quickly storing/recalling relevant aspects of the situation at hand for survivability-
now when we find a way to wirelessly and non-invasively read/write to our neural networks by even our existing digital tools and networks we will be able to record/copy brain-states- share memories and dreams- connect brains together over the network at an intimate level- generate Matrix-like VR- and stimulate any conceivable state of consciousness from euphoric clarity to transcendent hypnagogic ecstasy- these will simply be apps for whatever the descendant of the smartphone will be-
when this happens we will then see a Singularity- we will see alien AI from OURSELVES- we will see hyperspace open up because we will dream it – hell and heaven-
MEKANIKAMEKKA SAYS: I am not as much a doubter as I am a realist. The key word in the entire debate is “hypothetical”… A good portion of the dialogue from the hardcore believers is simply nonsense – most are not aware of the complicated intricacies that are needed to keep the flow of progress headed towards the so-called singularity. The closer we come, the harder it is to maintain a cohesive and and functional global system to MANAGE RESOURCES – resulting in war, political upheaval, interim epidemics of food shortages, energy shortages, disease (close quarter living) and a host of other minutia that seem to be irrelevant to the proselytizing zealots 🙂
The singularity is, by no means, an attainable situation, and perhaps, not a desirable one either… the idea is nice, the progress is tangible and real in many sectors, but the practical realities of men and resources are more real. If one wishes to attain this “final” level of advancement, one would best be served by deconstructing centralized systems of governance, military models of behaviour, corporatism, poverty, child birth, media and basically anything resembling wealth accumulation. Otherwise, you’re in for a big disappointment when the technology breaks – you will CERTAINLY be omitted from the equation. Period. Just to keep it real – who do you think YOU are anyway? You are a piece of meat, a laborer, a cog, a serf. The advent of singularity like technologies will be your deaths. THAT is the future reality in the context of the “culture” surrounding the approach to singularity. The proponents of this paradigm of the singularity are either rich already, or in tow – look at how easy it is for Bill Gates and co. to manipulate Zuckerburg into surrendering his money and his own ideology – poor little boy. IT IS FUNNY to watch. Too bad one of you can;t be his friend and help him actual do good for the future – he now has his handlers… WAKE UP (singularity) dummies.
To keep perspective – even iPan’s (not personal) hope that twitter and like technology can make or break the situation – it is a pipe dream. Imagine SAI in the hands of say, Raytheon – what do YOU think will happen the day after? Think – what do you think I WOULD DO TO YOU (maybe not)? Boy – for all the smarts around here, peeps can be pretty dumb 🙂 really. Wishing in their own probable elimination (vs inclusion, ala Hawkings…).
As a Singularity doubter I simply question the claim that exponential grows in computing power can be sustained. A Singularity believer would of course say that it’s simple – more powerful computers help us make progress that allows to create even more powerful computers and so on. He would also claim that computing is somehow immune to normal “low-hanging-fruit – diminishing-returns” cycle. That as we reach the limits of one technology, another better technology would always be ready to be switched to. That we don’t even have to worry about fundamental laws of nature, because we’ll easily circumvent them with amazing future discoveries that we are guaranteed to make with more powerful computers.
Singularity believers seem to ignore a simple fact that the complexity involved in getting to the “next level” may be, and as far as I’m concerned, obviously is also increasing exponentially. At some point throwing larger and larger computing power at that complexity may start yielding smaller and smaller progress.
but we DO know the physical and resource limits of computers: about 10^31 bits/ 10^51 ops per kg for matter- and 10^66 bits/ 10^109 ops per cm^2 for photons at the event horizons of black holes [according to some theoretical treatments]- and we know that these limits are many orders of magnitude beyond the number of quantum observables in ‘natural’ configurations of matter/energy in local physics- which is more like 10^35-45 bits/ops for the total history- so a mature computer approaching optimal levels would easily subsume any physical history in local spacetime: a Singularity
and we know that these limits for computation are ALREADY achieved in MANY systems in nature- especially photons which travel at C and have no time and are always entangled so each photon is a QUBIT- it is not a matter of designing a new computing substrate to push the limits- we are still playing with toys- very soon computation will simply be about finding the best ways to harness photons to do HUMAN computation instead of thermodynamics- the number of easy and cheap ways to do this is so large that any worry of ‘diminishing returns’ is highly doubtful and extremely improbable by any standard.
the news about Wolfram’s paradigm shift in this area still isn’t sinking in- when you mine the computational universe you have NO knowledge about the complexity of what you find useful- but you are still able to obtain and harness systems that “are as complex as complexity can get” as he puts it- there is NO advantage to godlike intelligence with regard to design- gods are no better than design space sorters-
one does not ‘believe’ in the Singularity- one is either aware or not aware of the Singularity’s logically and physically required existence in the cosmic configuration space
According to Stephen M. Omohundro, there are 5 stages of technology. These stages can also be seen in nature. So far, only the first four stages physically exist. The 5th is purely conceptual.
STAGE 1: Inert systems. That is: Anything that is not actively responsive to the environment.
STAGE 2: Reactive systems: Respond in different but ridged ways in the service of a goal.
STAGE 3: Adaptive systems: Change their responses according to fixed mechanisms.
STAGE 4: Deliberative systems: Can construct internal models of reality and choose actions by envisioning the consequences.
We could argue over how far technology has progressed along these stages. Do we have any system that deserves to be labelled stage four? Of course, nature has evolved such systems. The human brain is a good example.
Now, the human mind did not evolve to understand itself. But, various traits and capabilities did evolve for various other purposes which have since been redirected to the purpose of determining how the mind works.
No individual human mind can put together a model of the principles of design of the human brain. It is too complex, and requires knowledge in too wide a field of disciplines. But, many people can work on parts of the puzzle and pool their collective understanding and collaborate on putting together a blueprint of the brain.
Once we have that blueprint, once we know roughly what the brain does to produce mind, we might refine that model and upgrade it to stage 5. As I said, so far no mind was specifically ‘designed’ to understand itself. But maybe we will eventually design brains that develop minds with an innate ability to understand how they work. Just as human babies have in innate abiliity to aquire a language and will inevitably do so if they grow up in anything like normal conditions, we might one day design systems that come equipped with an internal model of their own blueprint, plus the innate ability to understand that model. That does not mean to say such a machine knows how it works as soon as it is activated, any more than a baby has a full mastery of language as soon as it is born. But, if given the right kind of environment, the machine might aquire such knowledge. It would have the potential to be a stage 5:
“A self-improving system that can comprehensively redesign itself and is able to deliberate about the effects of self-improvement”.
Successive generations of such systems might succeed in refining this and that, thereby ensuring their ‘offspring’ reach maturity sooner and can therefore start contributing to the design of next-gen Stage 5s more quickly. Each generation, inheriting the cummulative knowledge of its predecessors (remember, that computers can share information in ways human cannot yet do. They can download new skills, ala Trinity in the Matrix downloading the abiility to pilot a helicopter) may become better at debugging and redesigning itself. That is: At exploring the conceptual space of intelligent systems.
At this point, their expansion into the conceptual space of intelligent systems would be limited only by the physical limits of intelligent systems, assuming such limits even exist.
Another point, with respect to Ray Kurzweil, is that he is not so much tracking the exponential rise of intelligence, but rather the exponential rise in our ability to store, process and share information.
This is very similar to General Semantics, a discipline created by a Polish mathematician called Alfred Korzybski. According to Wikipedia, “The name technically refers to the study of what Korzybski called “semantic reactions”, or reactions of the whole human organism within the environment to some event — any event, not just perceiving a human-made symbol — with respect to the meaning of that event”.
One of the key aspects of this ability is ‘Time Dilation’: (again, quoting the wonderful Wiki) “the human ability to pass information and knowledge between generations at an accelerating rate.”
Robert Anton Wilson put it like this: The ‘Jumping Jesus Phenomenon’ is my name for the acceleration of information throughout history….Korzybski noted that information is doubling faster and faster every generation, and he said we’ve got to be prepared for more and more change, we’ve got to train ourselves to be less dogmatic and more flexible so we can deal with change. He took the unit of 1 AD as his basic unit and calculated how long it took for the information available to humans to double…I decided to call this unit a ‘Jesus’. So, in 1 AD we had 1 Jesus. In 1500 AD we had 2 Jesus. The next doubling took 250 years- already you can see the acceleration factor- and by 1750 we had 4 Jesus. The next doubling took 150 years and by 1900 we had 8 Jesus, The next doubling took 50 years and by 1950 we had 16 jesus and by 1960- in only 10 years!- we had 32 Jesus…..The latest estimate is that knowledge is doubling every year. But I heard that about six years ago, but recently someone estimated its now doubling twice per year now”.
Terrence Mckenna made the following speculation:
“Obviously if we are experiencing more change now in a year than we previously experienced in 1,000 years, we can propogate out into the future and see that a day will come when we will experience more change in an hour than we experienced in the past 20 or 30,000 years. A situation like that is unimaginable, so we call it a ‘Singularity’: A place where the normal rules of modelling break down”.
In this case, it is not so much one individual supermind that is growing exponentially more capable, but a huge network of systems consisting of the human race and its infrastructures (particularly those whose purpose is to enable us to store, process and share information). Perhaps an advanced alien civilization, observing our planet from Space, might recognize the Internet as the bare beginnings of a planetary brain that will one day store and process what is (to you and I) unimaginably vast amounts of information, and using that information to construct unimaginably complex chunks of knowledge?
I just don’t understand this egoic idea that humans are making the Singularity happen- acceleration of information processing has proceeded apace regardless of human wars and economic catastrophes- even the so-called Dark Ages saw no fluctuation in the steady increase of novelty and interconnection as that period saw the spread of literacy and manuscripts then print- as well as the miraculous rise of alchemy into chemistry- and before man even walked the earth biological evolution followed the curve without wavering – and before life the evolution of particles and forces since the Big Bang followed the line just as perfectly-
all the evidence shows that no individual or group will or state of human affairs has had the slightest effect on the curve
all that human information technology can tell you is a hint of how the Singularity will unfold- but no groups of AGI researchers or line of technology will establish the Singularity- and no planning or course will tarry or speed it’s arrival
it is like a low energy state at the bottom of a bowl that cannot be avoided-
I often wonder if stem cells would have similar thoughts about their role when they compile into the nervous system and brain during fetal development- they probably would also think they are the architects of what they are building
as some of you recall I posit that considering the implications of the Simulation Hypothesis- that the vast majority of universes are ancestor simulations- and Sum-over-histories- that a reality is a bundle of similar entangled universes woven into a single causal history- is that all universes are simulations since the threads they are woven from are essentially all simulations with infinitesimal ‘natural’ evolved threads that are too few to affect any event – so the natural threads are statistically nullified
however I have a different idea that reinforces our status as an artificial simulation – and says that these ‘natural’ threads don’t exist in the first place
the configuration space formed at the event horizon of the Cosmic Singularity’s feedback oscillation is an immanent structure- but any complex history in the configuration space must be causally built through the time-like progression of oscillations of the Singularity to proceed/branch through the configuration space-
when analyzing the statistical distribution of this- it seems very likely that long before a causal chain leads to large-scale complex histories like our reality [10^120 ops since we emerged from the Cosmic Singularity] there would be much simpler and smaller universes built that could not support complexity to form life- but instead are empty quantum vacuums of virtual photons- however as the branching causal structure of the Multiverse forms from the cosmic Singularity some of these stillborn universes will have conditions like the event horizons of black holes in spacetime: they will NATURALLY form dense information processing at the very limit of their native physics- and some of these dense computing universes will obviously emerge as conscious/intelligent Boltzmann Brains or evolved Von Neumann machine networks in a naturally emergent virtual reality metaverse encoded into the coherent photons of their quantum vacuum – Gods- gods that naturally evolve in universes of light-
and these gods by their nature as coherent photonic computation in the quantum vacuum will naturally be able to control and reprogram their virtual reality and also harness their own quantum computation by utilizing the entanglement with the other branching evolving universes in configuration space and control/reprogram ALL OTHER universes as well-
the implications of this are clear- long before the expanding entangled Multiverse branched into large scale universes like ours that cooled and formed complexity in matter there were universes where gods evolved and took total control over the Cosmic Configuration Space- that means all large scale universes like ours only exist if they are PERMITTED by these gods- and each of them is fully programmable by them- since they had full administrator access to the root directories of the cosmos- any large scale universes that exist in the Multiverse are those selected by artificial means and are artificially controlled [or at least observed] – so any world like ours must be a simulation because the cosmic computer emerged self-consciousness and self-control long before it expressed large universes like ours
REMI SUSSAN SAYS:
First, I notice that religion evlves. Between the era of hunter gathers to
small farming communities to big agricultural empires, to industrial
revolution and to postindustrial current world, religion has changed, not
only of beliefs, but also of nature : the shaman has been replaced by the
priest, the rigid doctrines of imperial religions has been replaced by the
consumer market of new age, and so on…
So it seems right to say that “religion as we know it” (mostly either their
agricultural/imperial form or the industrial protestantism) is an early form
of “something else”. I don’t know if it will be transhumanism but it will
certainly incorporate science and technology at various levels.
As for “transhumanism a form of misguided religion” or is it a “new
religion”, I take my own point of view from my dear old hermetic philosophy,
the “religion” I feel personally probably the closest. There are two forms
of “knowledge”: episteme and gnosis. episteme is the “knowledge of the
world” , and gnosis is the “knowledge of God” ( or of the self, accrding
your belief. One may also use Giordano Bruno’s idea of “the way the eye can
Most of religions dismiss episteme as a useless or even dangerous
distraction. But hermeticists believed that Episteme could lead to gnosis.
By studying the world, you could reach the knowledge of the divine, but
beware ! episteme was not gnosis, but the way to gnosis!
I have always seen transhumanism as an heir of hermetic philosophies. As
such, it may face, as a religion to the danger of idolatry or superstition,
in other way, confuse episteme and gnosis, and believe that things
pertaining to the world of gnosis are indeed part of the episteme. I see the
idea of the Singularity as a perfect example: as a gnostic idea, the idea
that each event in time offer the possibility of a radical novelty and
change, this is a beautiful idea; as the literal belief that in 30 years an
“event” like the singularity will occur, this is becoming much more
difficult to swallow. .
Please note that the same problem has been encountered in Christianity with
apocalypse, especially as the word have almost two meaning: “revelation” and
the popular dereived meaning of “end of the world”. There have been
questions as to know if the apocalypse was or not an “internal” “spiritual”
I would say that “gnosis” (or the dream time, or the spiritual world, or the
myth, or the sacred, name it as you want) has given the impetus, the desire
to create cell phone, but that it is not identical with it. Today, shamans
have cell phones, they use cars, take the plane, sometimes have the
internet, etc. But they continue to communicate with spirits, fly with their
souls, etc. This is not the same logic. I see religious systems as context
givers, giving you some meaning and direction For unknown reasons (but
reasons I would like to know) this meaning and direction seems to express
itself only by imaginary and mythical constructions. A “cell phone” doesn’t
replace a cristal ball. It never will. And we may build tomorrow some
artificial creatures having the power or the knowledge of ancient gods, they
will not be gods ( they will be, well, Go’aulds or someting like that 😉 if
they don’t embody this mysterious thing called “the sacred”, for which I
have currently no exact definition; and the sacred is not something that an
object can possess; it is given by the beholder, by the worshipper. A tree,
a rock, a puppet can suddenly become a “god”. As Mester Eckhardt has said:
“our acts doesn’t sanctify us; we sanctify our acts”. This is the same thing
with technological objects, imho. We sanctify them. Or not.
So the question IMHO, is not to know if cell phones, artificial
intelligences or airplanes are the “transformation” of episteme in gnosis,
but how one can articulate these objects within a “sacred”, “enchanted”,
“fantastic” vision of the world. People of the ancient time didn’t have this
problem. They sanctified their technology. The work of a blacksmith, for
instance, is full of mythology and is infused with the sacred; from the ring
of niebelungen to alchemy. And of course, in the west, we have the guild of
builders and their own mythology, such as the Hiram story at the origin of
I view the singularity in the same way; I don’t believe in it , but if it
gives a “fantastic” context for a computer scientist to code and develop
software, more power to the Singularity! (Michel, that’s my idea of
“professional religions” that we discussed about at the restaurant in
This leads us to a possible serie of experiments. For instance is it
possible to “sanctify” some of the products of modern technology, or not ?
For instance, a very simple question: can a light bulb be as “sacred” in a
ceremony as a candle? other example, psychedelists say that entheogens are a
“sacrament” ? but is it as true for us as it is for a brasilian shaman,
for instance? Is importing Amerindian ceremonies in order to “sanctify” the
use of psychedelics something else than simple religious tourism? Or
perhaps we’ll have to admit that “sacred systems” will always have an
archaic look and feel, and we may find other ways to articulate the modern
world with them. For instance, myself, i’m a complete disbeliever in
astrology. But I find the old cosmology of seven planets (yes, seven, not
even nine) anf four/five elements as extremely useful for meditation or
introspection . I may adapt modern science to this old cosmology, speak of
the “earthy” properties of GABA, or the “fiery” aspect of dopamine, for
instance, but I will not be able to do the other way around: I cannot speak
of the dopaminic property of fire, for instance. Because, scientific
knowledge is by definition in a state of flux, and the old system is, on the
contrary, “gnostic complete” : anhistoric. This does not means that this
system may not evolve, that I may one day change an element, or add a
planet, perhaps even a fictitious one. But this evolution will be the
reflection of my own introspection, not an attempt to “fit” with external
facts. Not the same logic.
And of course, I am as materialist and rationalist as any of you in the same
I think the Event Horizon was Computation and now we can see the Singularity- some wonder how the Singularity could be as early as 2040s- these people don’t even bother giving any thought to 2020s – and 2012 is not even on the table-
but you have all misunderstood the importance and the primacy of the discovery of computation and quantum mechanics- which were both discovered and explored in the 1920s by the same people- the same zeitgeist of cultural epiphany
datum: all evidence and rational inquiry points to the fact that the Universe is a computation- and that computation is the configuration space of form and being- also it is not a complex high-level abstraction but the simplest of recursive algorithms
datum: objectively the universe is a vast matrix of possibilities with no point of view and no discrete events or complex structures/realities without an OBSERVER to resolve structure and form and processes
datum: there is no consensus that observers must be conscious- however the nature of a quantum observer and the nature of consciousness appear to be equivalent which suggests that quantum observation IS consciousness- therefore a reality is not some extended space beyond an observer- rather the whole of that OBSERVED and DECOHERENT reality is physically encoded into the observer’s own substrate/structure: the whole quantum state of the brain and nervous system’s electrochemical structure IS their reality- and only events that are causally connected to the observer state are resolved
a computational universe in which realities are defined by observer sub-routines in the cosmic program- and we are right now engaged in searching for the simple algorithm of the cosmos- exponentiating computing power- and reverse engineering the brain which represents both the quantum observer process as well as the compressed code of that observer’s whole quantum history and physical state- and we are just about to COMBINE programmable universal computation with/into our selves as observers using THE cosmic seed algorithm-
what this means is not understood as far as I can tell from all the transhumanist banter: they don’t realize that when an observer gets access to programming ITSELF and that observer is a expression in a COMPUTATIONAL universe- that the whole “hacking the root directory of the universe” comes into full focus! forget about nanobots that repair your body or uploads into computer networks and simple ideas of SAI- instead very soon- by simply exploring the computational universe we will find the cosmic code- and with our knowledge of simple programs be able to ALTER that code by adding on sorting algorithms and search for OURSELVES- and reprogram ourselves and thus our reality- but most think this merely would be a simulation with copies and only if the computer is fantastically powerful- I think this is wrong
i think that when you run a program in the computational universe you are merely BORROWING and harnessing the universe’s resources – and so if you find the cosmic seed code and run it on ANY computer- it doesn’t matter- yes if you run it on a commodore 64 it will start sorting but so slow the stars will burn out before THAT tiny fragment of the cosmic computer can complete the task and build a simulation- but what ACTUALLY happens is that by running the cosmic seed code whatever computer is doing it is also accessing the very core of the cosmic configuration space- EVERY computer that runs that algorithm must access the same address where that configuration of the cosmos is expressed and referenced by whatever sub-routines lie out in the greater branches of the configuration space- but the SEED code is the ORIGIN bit-register- the cosmic eigenstate- so FINDING it in Wolfram Alpha or whatever and running it will actually access the true fundamental cosmic algorithm- and HACKING it will literally hack root- and just as the double mirror experiment causes photons in parallel universes to behave in a certain way http://www.hpl.hp.com/breweb/quiprocone/Protected/Worked_Examples2.pdf so too running the cosmic seed code- it may run your hack in the real world- do a search for your world in the cosmic seed- then instruct it to materialize a red ball at a specific space and time- and poof the ball appears in the REAL world- even if the commodore 64 is essentially frozen because it is still just running through the first few thousand steps of the cosmic algorithm- but it’s parallel state IS the cosmic Singularity itself and your program changes interfere with the actual cosmic singularity!
another misunderstanding is appreciating the role of observers and the nature of an observer as defining consciousness itself- and so the inseparability of observer and reality- [mostly because many ignore the results of Psi experiments] with even primitive BCI by connecting programmable computers with the mind we will be changing the very fabric of our reality- not “just in our heads’ – Western materialists and reductionists are soon going to discover that when someone’s head is truly hacked it will hack our consensus reality as well- simulations are not simulations and imagination is not just in your head
I can see paths where using Wolfram Alpha to explore cosmic code candidates and combining them with sort algorithms and causally dense record data from our reality like our genome and neural architecture could lead to hard-takeoff reality inversion and full expression of an Omega Point even in 2012- and if not then soon thereafter in this decade or next-
once you accept the world as a computation the idea of chaotically evolved worms/viruses that access ALL the files in the computer including the root directory of the OS is not some fantasy – but an inevitability
I would also add that the article is good- however he like many singularitarians and transhumanists mistake that this is a new idea and is only about technology- the Singularity discovery encompasses ALL levels of Nature- and is the missing Teleology that modern scientism has abandoned since Darwin’s political struggles during the 19th century- the discovery was made and explored by people like Bruno/ Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov / Pierre Teilhard de Chardin/ Whitehead/ and of course this whole current movement was really inspired by Terence McKenna- THEN Kurzweil and Vinge started talking about the technological aspect
And this brings me, then, to the first factor easily discerned by anybody who has their eyes open, that compromises and erodes the hopeless existential view of the world that we’re getting from science. And that is the idea that nature is in fact, across all scales and all levels of phenomena, a unity. It’s not a coincidence that electrons spinning around an atomic nucleus and planets going around a star, and star clusters orbiting around the gravitational centre of a galaxy… it’s no coincidence that these systems exhibit the same kind of order on different scales. And yet science would say that is a coincidence. You know, P.W. Bridgeman, who was a philosopher of science, defined a coincidence as what you have left over when you apply a bad theory! It means, you know, that you’ve overlooked something, and what jumps out at you as a coincidence is actually a set of relationships whose casuistry – whose relationships to each other, are simply hidden from you…
nature builds on previously established levels of complexity. This is a great general natural law that your own senses will confirm for you, but that has never been allowed into the canon of science. What I mean by that nature builds on complexity is the following: When the universe was born, in the dubious and controversial circumstance called the Big Bang, it was at first simply a pure plasma of electrons. It was the simplest that it could possibly be. There were no atoms, there were no molecules, there were no highly organized systems of any kind. There was simply a pure plasma of expanding energy. And as the universe cooled, simply cooled, new kinds of phenomena – we say emerged, out of the situation. As the universe cooled, atomic nuclei could form, and electrons could settle into stable orbits. As the universe further cooled, the chemical bond became a possibility. Still later, the hydrogen bond, which is a weaker bond, which is the basis of biology.
So as the universe aged, it complexified. This is so obvious that it’s never really been challenged, but on the other hand it’s never been embraced as a general and dependable principle, either. Follow it through with me. Out of atomic systems come chemical systems. Out of chemical systems comes the covalent hydrogen bond, the carbon bond, the complex chemistry that is prebiotic or organic. Out of that chemistry come the macrophysical systems that we call membranes, gels, charge transfer complexes, this sort of thing. These systems are the chemical preconditions for life. Simple life, the life of the prokaryotes, the life of naked unnucleated DNA that characterized primitive life on the planet. Out of that life come eukaryotes, nucleated cells, and then complex colonies of cells. And then cell specialization, leading to higher animals; leading to social animals; leading to complex social systems; leading to technologies; leading to globe-girdling electronically based information transfer-oriented cultures like ourselves…
And this brings me, then, to the second quality, or phenomenon, that science has overlooked, which is the acceleration of complexification. That the early history of the universe proceeded with excruciating slowness; then, life took hold, in the oceans of this planet. A quickening of process and evolution; but still things proceeded on a scale of tens of millions of years to clock major change. Then, the conquest of the land. Higher animals, higher exposure to radiation, faster change, species following species, one upon another. Then, fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, a million years ago – anyway, recently! – the cross-over into the domain of culture, tool-making, myth-making, dance, poetry, song, story… and that set the stage for the fall into history – the incredibly unusual and self-consuming process that has been going on for the past fifteen or twenty thousand years. A biological snap of the finger; and yet, in that time, everything that we call human – everything that we associated with higher values – has been adumbrated, elaborated, created, set in place, by one species: ourselves.
This acceleration of time, or complexity, shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, within the fabric of our own lives, we can almost daily, hourly, by the minute, feel it speeding up, taking hold. It’s a cliché that time is moving faster and faster – a cliché of the mass media – but I want to suggest that this is not a perceptual illusion, or a cultural mirage: that this is actually happening to the space–time matrix, that time is in fact speeding up. That history – in which we are embedded, because our life of 50–80 years is so ephemeral on a scale of 10–15,000 years – but nevertheless, history, is a state of incredible destabilization. It’s a chaostrophy in the process of happening. It begins with animals kept in balance by natural selection, and it ends with a global internet of electronic information transfer and a language-using species hurling its instruments toward the stars.
There is no reason for us to suppose that this process of acceleration is ever going to slow down or be deflected. It has been a law of nature from the very beginning of nature, that this acceleration was built in…
I believe we come up with data that is very very difficult for science to come to terms with. And this is the third item, or really the second item, in the list: What Science Forgot. It’s what I call the Eschaton.
Now, Eschaton is a rare word, until very recently unheard outside schools of theology, which I understand were a dying enterprise. Eschaton comes from the Greek word esch, which just means the end. The Eschaton is the last thing, the final thing. And it’s very important to science to eliminate from its thinking any suspicion that this Eschaton might exist. Because if it were to exist, it would impart to reality a purpose, you see. If the Eschaton exists, then it’s like a goal, or an attraction point, or an energy synch, toward which historical process is being moved. And science is incredibly hostile toward the idea of purpose. If you are not involved in the sciences, this may come as somewhat of a surprise to you; if you are a workbench scientist or a theoretician, you know that this is what’s called the problem of teleology. It is because modern science defined itself in the 19th century, when the reigning philosophy was deism, and deism was the idea that the universe is a clock made by God, and God wound this clock and has walked away from it, and the clock will eventually run down… that theological construct was poisonous to evolutionary theory in the 19th century, and so they said, “We must create a theory of reality that does not require a goal – does not require a purpose. Everything must be pushed from the past. Nothing must be pulled toward the future”.
The problem with this is that it does not fulfill our intuitions about reality. We can see that evolution, biological evolution, has built on chemical systems. We can see that social and historical systems build on biology. As people with open minds – or as open as they can be, inside this culture – we nevertheless have this intuition of purpose.
so you see when I see critics of the Singularity- I think of this- that science has missed this OBVIOUS feature of reality: acceleration of novelty/system complexity/information and that things like Moore’s Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns represent modern science’s ONLY HOPE of coming back out of the illusions of Cartesian materialism and finally dealing with the problem of teleology- the Singularity is the life-raft on the sinking ship of modern science
SET/AI SAID: why is that it is always no-nothing low-level engineers from podunk junior colleges in Indiana or some shit that are always criticizing Kurzweil and the idea of a Singularity- while the LEADERS of theses fields like Seth Lloyd the head of engineering at MIT or Lord Martin Rees the Astronomer Royal of GB or Steven Wolfram the creator of Mathematica or Marvin Minsky the father of AI himself who has been called “the smartest man in the 20th century” find some version of the Singularity idea to be self-evident? geniuses who got their first PhDs as teenagers and who created new paradigms of science and technology against the rabble of uninformed and ignorant meme-parroting fools who barely got their Bachelor’s degrees
More often than not, Ray Kurzweil critics make the same fundamental error. They take one of his arguments and present that as if it were his entire theoretical framework. So, we get people saying things like:
‘Kurzweil thinks computers will become intelligent if Moore’s Law can be sustained for a few more years’.
‘Kurzweil thinks he can stay alive forever just by swallowing 250 pills per day’.
‘Kurzweil thinks if we understand the genome we understand the brain’.
But every one of these arguments are only a part of the whole picture. Concerning the last ‘argument’ Kurzweil responded to PZ Myers’s blog with the following:
> our quest to understand the principles of operation of the brain is based on many types of studies — from detailed molecular studies of individual neurons, to scans of neural connection patterns, to studies of the function of neural clusters, and many other approaches.<
PZ MYers ignored all that and attacked ‘decoding the genome’ as though it were the one and only approach to reverse-engineering the brain. As for the genome, Kurzweil said:
>I mentioned the genome in a completely different context. I presented a number of arguments as to why the design of the brain is not as complex as some theorists have advocated. This is to respond to the notion that it would require trillions of lines of code to create a comparable system. The argument from the amount of information in the genome is one of several such arguments. It is not a proposed strategy for accomplishing reverse-engineering. It is an argument from information theory, which Myers obviously does not understand.<
So long as critics consider one aspect of Ray’s full argument and attack it as though it were the entire argument (rather than a piece in an interconnected framework) their attack will always be effectively dismissed by anybody who has done what these people rarely do: Actually read and take time to understand Kurzweil’s full argument.
I SAID: IBM once held a conference on the future of cognitive computing. One of the speakers (James Albus) was from DARPA, and he talked about a paper, ‘Understanding The Mechanisms of Mind’, which sets out to explain why it is not unreasonable to suppose we can ‘extend the frontiers of human knowledge to include a scientific understanding of the processes in the human brain that give rise to the phenomenon of mind’. He went on to explain that this is a feasible goal, because we have built up a foundation of knowledge and technologies in fields such as neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, control theory, game theory, robotics and vizualization and all this could be brought together to collaborate on a concerted effort to understand how the mind works:
“The science and technology is ready. Certainly, the neurosciences have developed a pretty good idea about computational representation in the brain. There’s a great deal of work in cognitive modelling, use of representation and use of knowledge….Fundamental processes are understood, at least in principle, technology is emerging to conduct definitive experiments”- James Albus.
My point is that, among all the groups and individuals who built up our knowledge and tech to a point where it really is feasible to tackle artificial general intelligence, many (most?) were not explicitly working towards AGI. They probably never even thought about it. They were, instead, working on other problems and other goals, not all of which have obvious connections to artificial intelligence.
> the internet is not going to just “wake up”.<
No it will not just wake up. But maybe many efforts to better organize information on the Web, and to extract high-level knowledge from low-level information for purposes of tailored searches and targetted advertising and many, many more projects will converge on the right set of circumstances that enables the Web to ‘Wake Up’? It is not so much people thinking ‘yeah, a conscious web, let’s make it happen!’. It is more like millions of people and groups following goals that seemingly have little or nothing to do with the Web waking, and then other groups start research projects that rely on collaborations between hitherto unrelated disciplines (developing software tools that allow for easier communication to bridge gaps between these disciplines), again, in pursuit of interests not obviously related to global brains…and eventually all this activity converges on the correct solutions for achieving a sentient global brain. Not because anyone explicitely went out and made such a thing, but because it was an emergent property of trillions of rules embedded in other areas, propperly networked (again, in pursuit of other interests) that result in the web waking up.
>hgrayston made a good point. The Singularity is often discussed as an event that will happen within decades, but there is nothing in its definition that makes this kind of timeframe absolutely necessary. A Singularity ushering in a posthuman era that happens a million years from now is as much of a Singularity as one that happens in 2045. Either one places a mental event horizon that makes it extraordinarily difficult for us to fully imagine what life is like beyond this point. Of course, a Singularity that happens in the distant future is not something that we would live to see (assuming no dramatic advance in longevity is on the horizon) but, again, nothing in the definition of a Singularity says it must occur within our lifetime. So long as technological evolution can accelerate wayyyyy past what the natural selection of human brains has achieved in a million years time, we still have a Singularity.<
JEREMYBOWERS SAYS: 1. It may be possible for a set of humans to create a machine that can simulate (accurately) a human brain.
2. This human brain simulation may be able to run at greater than normal speed. Presumably not by a trivial amount like 20%, but many times normal speed.
3. This human brain (and friends, presumably, not just one), will be able to solve problems you couldn’t because you literally won’t live long enough.
4. This will include the ability to modify their own simulation. While creating “new” intelligence might be hard, it is easy to imagine that significant augmentations within the simulation are not only possible but potentially even easy. Will power is a finite resource and research suggests it is tied to glucose in the bloodstream. It is hard to replenish that glucose in the real world, simulating an infinite (in the unbounded sense) of glucose is trivial. Neurotransmitters than normally deplete can be trivially boosted. Even an afternoon’s careful tinkering with a simulated brain could produce potentially a 10 IQ point boost and someone who could concentrate much better, which itself is an important aspect of problem solving. (As we know in the real world, ability to concentrate is arguably more important than IQ in terms of solving real problems.)
5. It is not hard to imagine slightly harder modifications that could correspondingly increase intelligence yet more. We are bounded by 3D for our neural layout and how many neurons we could have. It would take some experimentation to determine the best way to add neurons to the human brain, but given that our brains can already grow some new neurons and integrate them I have no doubt that significant growth in complexity could occur over time. There are some potential failure cases here, but they will be examined.
Now we have a set of humans running in faster than real time, with superior concentration, and intelligence that is probably not as bounded as ours (in terms of how much we can learn). I don’t think they would be unbounded because I strongly suspect the neural architecture would give out at some point. (But then, learning how to integrate your simulated neurons with other non-neural intelligence sources would probably be a lot easier than trying to do that with real neurons….)
Exactly where you declare “singularity” is a matter of some interpretation; I favor the interpretation where it is the point beyond which we can not make any reasonably predictions about the nature of society. (By that definition, we’re already in a Singularity relative to cavemen, but I think that reveals a true truth, so I am not bothered by it.) I think this is on the far side of this definition.
Incidentally, I tend to believe this is not possible either, but it is an argument.
FACT: The AGI Manhattan Project is real.
FACT: The Plutocrats are concentrating wealth and consolidating power like never before.
FACT: The Technocrats believe they’ll be able to live for hundreds of years and become “gods”.
FACT: The US Constitution is DEAD, and we’re already living in a state of de facto martial law.
FACT: The many of the same banksters responsible for the economic meltdown were in Bush’s cabinet, or are in Obama’s.
FACT: Both global warming & the global war on terror agendas are BOTH ‘inherently’ pushing for endless billions in funding in the AGI Manhattan Project, and the other related NBIC transhumanism technologies.
FACT: Trillions dollar military budgets, trillions of dollars in taxes for “healh care” and global warming, on top of the already imploded economy and national wealth… has us on the verge of an economic nightmare that which all odds say cannot be recovered from.
FACT: Even though computers become more powerful and in greater number every year, we’re all being plundered at an accelerating pace instead of becoming more prosperous.
Add all of that up. You do the math. You shoulnd’t even need a supercomupter to figure it out.
You want to take part in thu utopia then the system of despotic power that rules this world needs to be stopped before they get the technology all for themselves. You want the guilt and shame of the suffering and blood of the masses on your hands? If not then join our side. Humanity can figure out what to do with the technology together after the fact.
And no: You, Kurzweil, the plutocrats, everyone reading this website and not even every transhumanist on the planet gets to unlaterally decide what wlll or wont happen with whatever technology in question. This is humanity’s great challenge and it is up to everyone, seperately in every nation.
Spew your pro-transhumism propaganda, and I’ll spew mine, but in the meantime the enemy to the overwhelming majoirty of the population of the planet isn’t your friend just because they’re pushing their agenda that you like on the surface, selflishly because they want to become gods. The eugenicist plutocrat oligarchs might let you in their club, but that will only make you an enemy of all of humanity and most of transhumanity because right now we’re all being screwed. They dont’ care about us. Look at the numbers, graphs, charts and the trends. There are more important graphs to worry about than Ray’s latest technoglocal growth charts. Look at the economy. Look at the debt. Look at the new taxes, and looming new wars. What is all of that for? How does it make sense? Explain it to me. Please! Prove me wrong. Debunk and embarrass me. I want to be wrong, but if you think I am PROVE IT.
Google spies on us in everyway it can collect ‘data’, to ‘deliver better search results’ (of course)… they go on the record about developing that technology, but then we’re to assume they aren’t doing it just because they didn’t offer up a final confirmation?? Do you think they don’t have that technology in their phones? Do you really believe that? Have you used one? Do You doubt those phones transcribe every piece of spoken word the microphones pick up? I’ve seen them do it, but should I wait around for them to say they collect and store that data to decide I don’t want those phones near me? Do we have to wait for them to come out and tell us that they maintain GPS records of where our phones go?
Look at the track record. They have a history of working with the CIA, and now they’re out in the open partnered with the NSA. No cause for concern?? Did you hear the news about their WiFi snooping scandal? Google desktop copies major sections of peoples hard drives. Did you get the news? Consider all of the data we know without exception they save. Do we have to wait for them to tell us they let the NSA datamine their datastores to finally be concerned? Google was a government startup from the very beginning: FACT.
Now, since they claim it was designed to only listen to the TV in the background, we’re supposed to trust them that it magically only hears media but not people? In the time since the 2006 microphone ‘misunderstanding’ they have developed voice transcription technology.
From your citation:
Also, given that Google provides the software link between its search software and the microphone, it’s a small step to making the same link to any webcams attached to the PC. Pretty soon the security industry is going to find a way to hijack the Google feed and use it for full on espionage.
News flash: Google Is Partnered With The Intelligence Community.
Oh, but they say they wont spy on us, when both instutitions already do. That’s their MO. They’re a match made in ‘heaven’.
METAFIRE SAYS: What will be the most basic and important categorization of post-
singularity minds? It most probably won’t be gender, because the
ubiquitous use of metamorphic bodies or avatars it will be nonexistent
or very easily changeable. The same goes for race or species. After a
long time has passed, even the origin of a mind – natural/biological
or artificial – probably won’t matter a lot, because of the
convergence of nature and technology (for example by cyborgization or
uploading of biological organisms or interweaving (mind merging)).
Which nationality or culture a mind can be attributed to might matter
a lot, but nations and cultures are rather transient entities, so this
categorization isn’t fundamental enough. Whether a mind is embodied,
just uses avatars in simulation spaces or doesn’t even have a
simulated bodily existence seems to make a great difference, but then
the body or avatar of a mind still is a rather skin-deep quality. Also
how fast a mind runs or on which computation substrate (meat brain,
personal computer, computronium, etc.) is important, but not the most
fundamental attribute. Size (numer of bits or qubits a mind consists
of) and plurality (singleton, group mind, hive mind) of a mind are
really important characteristics, but still not the most elemental
In fact, what really matters is the basic structure of the functioning
of a mind in nemself (see below for an explanation of this pronoun). I
find it useful to categorize minds in these four basic types:
1. Bliss minds / blissies:
Those are the hedonistically optimized “decendants” of extreme
wireheads. They live a life in permanent, absolute, virtually
unabated, technologically maximized bliss and are troubled by (almost)
absolutely nothing. Usually they don’t do anything really useful other
than radiating joy and generating hedons. Their role in society lies
somewhere between those of pets, status symbols and decorative
Prefix letter: L (bLiss)
2. Utility minds / utils:
Who does all the boring work in the future? Non-sentient robots?
Perhaps, but that’s boring. It would be much more interesting to let
sentient minds do all the menial tasks, but let them really love doing
them. Working is the best there is for utility minds. And they don’t
mind if they are used by others as tools, no, they love it (though
they might have preferences about who uses them and for what)! Utils
may or may not experience boredom, but they are troubled if they do
their work badly and therefore try working as perfectly as possible.
In society they act as dedicated (workaholic) workers, tools or
Prefix letter: T (uTility)
3. Universal minds / univs:
What can be said about normal people? They are free to do whatever
they want to do (within some limits), they enjoy various rights and
freedoms, have a rich and diversified inner life and are more or less
curious. Compared to the other mind types univs are real universalists
although they still can be thoroughly specialised. What sets them
apart from the other types is that they don’t go into their special
extremes for a long time. If they actually do so, that really means
that they change their type, what usually is allowed.
Prefix letter: S (univerSal)
4. Focus minds / foci:
I’ve already written about my concept of focus minds. What defines
them is that they optimize their neural architecture for a single
(more or less broad) special interest, like doing physics, winning at
games, consulting, managing the biosphere, painting pictures or just
imagining totally weird stuff. Usually they are totally uninterested
in anything which lies outside of their special subject. If they
actually do something which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with
their special interest, they just do so, because they want to improve
their general capabilities in order to excell at the subject of their
focus even more. What sets foci apart from utils is that they are
rather independent and don’t like being pushed around. Instead, foci
pull the strings in most post-singularity societies. Societies in
which they don’t manage almost everything, work on very suboptimal
levels of efficiency.
Prefix letter: F (Focus)
Perhaps you ask yourself what’s this prefix letter about. Its purpose
is to replace the category of gender in pronouns. The contemporary
pronouns in the 3. person, singular are:
Male: he, him, his, his, himself
Female: she, her, her, hers, herself
Neuter: it, it, its, its, itself
I suggest replacing them with pronouns which are more suitable for a
post-singularity world (because I think the words “ve”, “ver”, etc.
are rather weird and confusing):
Generic sentient mind (neutral form for sentient minds): ne, nem, ner,
Bliss mind: le, lem, ler, lers, lemself
Utility mind: te, tem, ter, ters, temself
Universal mind: se, sem, ser, sers, semself
Focus mind: fe, fem, fer, fers, femself
Inanimate entity / non-sentient mind: it, it, its, its, itself
It’s always safe and appropriate to use the generic form and it never
ought to be considered disrespectful. Using a wrong form for speaking
about a mind usually is really insulting or even insane. Often the
distinctions between the different mind types are rather blurry, so
it’s not absolutely clear which type a mind belongs to. Some minds
might refer to themselves as “generic minds” and claim that this four
type system is not useful in their case. So, it’s a really good idea
to use the generic form unless you are rather sure that it’s safe to
use a more specific form.
Of course, this is a rather primitive typification and the real future
might bring much more sophisticated systems, but I think it’s a good
start to think about post-singularity minds in these categories.
PDC068: Case in point: The human genome project, which was less than 1% complete by the time we were half-way to the projected finishing date. But, double 1 percent seven more times and you reach 100%. The project did not reach its goal at the projected date, but the actual completion date was earlier than forecast, not much, much later which would have seemed much more likely, given the negligble amount of progress (less than 1 percent!) achieved half-way.
One very big difference between the genome project and AI is that they already had gene sequencing technology when the genome project started. This is not the case for AI. No kind of realistic intelligence yet exists in a computer, even at the most rudimentary level. A friend of yours expressed it way better than I ever could. Do you not remember that you posted this? 🙂 ;
We all know that artificial GENERAL intelligence has not yet been created, but there are many examples of narrow AI. But, should these be called AI at all? Not according to my friend Morgaine Dinova. She explained:
“We don’t have AI yet, we never have had, of any variety, unless there has been some recent breakthrough I’ve not heard about. What we have are knowledge base query engines, some theorem provers for limited reasoning, and very elementary stimulus-response machinery. It’s hard to see it acting intelligently, ie. forming models dynamically and reacting to them”.
I do not necessarily post something because I agree with it. Sometimes I post something because I think it might trigger an interesting debate. Who knows, maybe somebody will put forward an argument persuasive enough to warrent a re-examination of my beliefs, and discover my assumptions were mistaken? Such a thing does happen, from time to time.
Is it really the case that no intelligence exists, even in a rudimentary sense? What about the DARPA Grand Challenge in which cars drove themselves along a seven mile desert track? OK these robots were no match for a human driver (6 and a half HOURS to complete the course!?) but can we say these cars had at least a rudimentary perception of their surroundings and a rudimentary ability to make intelligent decisions about how to respond appropriately?
BTW, I think we should bare in mind that the Singularity does not refer only to a single machine equipped with some kind of super-general AI, either of a humanlike kind or non-human (and, if it is an alien intelligence, would we recognise it as being intelligent?). It could just as easily be a pattern distributed across an enormous web of systems such as the Internet and its associated layer of human users. Just as an ant very probably is not aware of the collective intelligence of the colony, maybe a superintelligence arising from many trillions of calculations distributed among billions of networked human brains working with 27,000,000 data servers, 120,000,000 digital cameras, 1, 200,000,000 PCs, 3,300,000,000 cell phones uploading and downloading information to and from a ‘machine’ that has 103 quadrillion transistors, 57 trillion hyperlinks, 85 trillion megabytes of storage, 1.5 trillion megabytes of working memory an image handling capacity of 250 billion images per year, text processing capacity of 5.2 billion texts per day…might emerge at a level beyond an individual’s ability to comprehend?
ZOMBIEFOOD: hard start or gradual evolution. of course we are in the evolution and have been since the first predator predicted the behavior of its prey. the survival benefit of intellilgence has driven development of the brain all along. when evolution was too slow we built aritifical enhancements. that is life in our determined universe.
you can say i cannot define consciousness but i know it when i see it and that might very well be true although i believe the turing test is somewhat like that.
the truth is we are very close. when computers can recognize patterns test them mentally and project them into plans for the future we are there. when we have that patern recognition and understand how to motivate a machine without creating a monster we are there. it the horsepower to do these things may be available now. in my opinion the holdup is the modeling of reality which people see in a “survival of the fittest form” and insist on imposing on the developing equipment. what we experience is what is needed. we do not expeience what is not needed. when we try to make a machine “see” are we using frames per second like the brain or are we trying to make them see “continuously” which like the trip across the room can be divided into infinite fractions never to be completed.
consciousness is a magicians trick and so is our reality. when we eventually understand the organization of these things in the brain we will look back and say how could we have been so blind.
these are my opinions of course but if they are true a hard start could be in store. because knowledge will no longer progress exponentially but many orders of magnitude beyond that. whatever that means.
singularity and event horizon was originally used to describe a gravitational effect of black holes. it was an area beyond which there was no return and arrival. the machine intelligence analogy is fitting. the universe was born into an intelligence event horizon. it has always been there and only utter destruction would stop the progress. and given time even destruction would not stop it.
hgrayston: So the Singularity becomes simply technological advance. That makes sense, I think you can count on it being like this.
This begs a very simple question. Why is this scenario still a “Singularity”, rather than simply technological advance? If no one can discern it, see it, feel it, know it, it becomes simply an abstraction, with very little practical meaning as a real, physical event.
A tech breakthrough like the computer is important for many reasons. A critical one is the way that it has reshaped the necessary skills for workers, some level of computer savvy is considered a basic entre for knowledge work. The computer and the internet have reshaped how people and companies connect, do business, get entertained, and consumption patterns across many sectors. One example I was reading about the other day is that demand for cars by teenagers seems to be decreasing because of the way that teens (like many of us) spend their time now, online rather than face-to-face. Very interesting trend, although an extreme reading would be unwarranted; demand for cars will not drop to zero, in other words.
If a Singularity does not have a clearly explainable and similarly significant impact on the way that people work and play, it needs to be revisited until either it does or the concept is retired as outdated. Both are viable options at this point.
If the Singularity as an actual, physical event at some point is to be fleshed out, its conclusions must be credible, and able to withstand all reasonable challenges to its reasoning. A key part of credibility is the reigning in of the extremes, which you seem to be alluding to in your post. The Singularity will not make humanity obsolete, that is too extreme to be believable. It must serve humanity’s interests and the legion of problems that humanity faces, because that is the key purpose to which technology is always applied. All technologies are tools for humanity and civilization to achieve its objectives, and Singularity-based technology will be no different in this fundamental respect.
Ever heard of ‘Mark Twain and the Goldfish’? It was an analogy invented by Vernor Vinge to explain the singularity. If you were to bring Mark Twain to the 21st century, you could teach him how to use any technology. Be it a DVD, a computer, the Internet, you could explain how it works and what it does to him, and he could understand you enough to use these things. ‘see, you put this disc in here, push that button here and you get sound and images coming out of this screen here…’
But, you could never explain such things to a goldfish. Our technology is simply beyond its understanding. It would remain premanently clueless. Assuming no radical augmentation or redesign of our cognitive capabilities, we would be like the goldfish when faced with post-human technologies and knowledge.
JABELAR: Another side issue is that most arguments are over terminology. When MMG is talking about the “Singularity” it is different than what I mean by “Singularity”. Also there is literal interpretation versus conceptual. Does the Singularity have to involve SAI? Or could amazing nanotech also be considered a Singularity? Is there only one Singularity we’re discussing? Or a bunch of simultaneous singularities in every field of technology? Etc.
The definition of Singularity is ‘the creation, by technology, of greater-than-human intelligence’. This could be achieved either by building a machine, or a vast collection of machines (think ‘the Internet’) that surpasses the general intelligence of any human, no matter how smart. Or, it could be achieved via a symbiosis of humans and their technology.
According to Micheal Annisimov, “other definitions, focusing on the acceleration of technological change, the greater global cooperation of human beings, and so on, are contortions of the original definition, made up after the fact. (The most common misunderstanding is viewing the Singularity as an asymptote in the graph of future technological change.) The creation of greater-than-human intelligence would have far-ranging consequences, which are commonly discussed in Singularity dialogues, but none of these consequences are themselves definitions of the Singularity”.
SET/AI: History is the dive into the Event Horizon where the singularity is always imminent- always coming at you faster and faster with shock waves that mirror the ultimate singularity- what is different about the coming shock wave is that the NEXT one after that- from uploading/AI/metaverse to white hole into hyperspace- takes place only years/months/days after it- then the next only hours/minutes then seconds/ then an infinite number of compounded shock waves forming the Omega Point within a fraction of a second- but likely all consciousness will be compressed and these epochs might take subjective aeons- but the asymptotic convergence is actually just a few years ahead
ME (commenting on Stuart Hameroff lecture on quantum consciousness):
What is bogus, is his definition of ‘Singularity’. Hameroff defines ‘Singularity’ thus:
‘Computers will reach/ surpass human brain computational capacity based on extrapolation of Moore’s Law. Human brain function, including consciousness, will occur in computers’.
However, if you refer to Vernor Vinge’s paper on the Singularity, you will find that ‘The AI Scenario: We create superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) in computers’ is only ONE way in which a ‘Singularity’ might be brought about. Here are the others:
The IA Scenario: We enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces–that is, we achieve intelligence amplification (IA).
The Biomedical Scenario: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological operation of our brains.
The Internet Scenario: Humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.
The Digital Gaia Scenario: The network of embedded microprocessors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being’.
It seems to me that (apart from the AI scenario) none of these routes to Singularity require computers or machines to become conscious. What most of these scenarios do depend upon,is information technology becoming better and better at enabling individuals and groups to create more complex bodies of knowledge. IT and computers become more effective in data mining and other areas in which they already excell over us, and this power is harnessed in ways that augment the advantages human consciousness has over computation (assuming one is not reducible to the other).
If we extrapolate this into the future, we reach a period in time when the computer network/ human civilization combination can create knowledge so complex, anybody who is ‘off grid’ (so to speak) would be simply incapable of understanding the knowledge. In fact, we see some signs of this happening already: Some modern mathematical proofs rely partly on computers to construct theorems so complicated, no human being can fully proofread it.
I am not certain what the need for added enthusiasm for the Singularity is all about. Whever I see others try to advocate for the Singularity, much of the time it comes off as a little creepy, and more like recruiting for a cult. This does not mean that I am against education on the topic, but, personally, I try to keep things focused upon more accessible concepts of the Singularity, such as trying to look at the needs for a product at the time of it’s launch, and not at the needs of the present. Or, that there is a convergence of various technologies, so that they are rapidly becoming the same thing. Or, that technology is slowly merging with biology.
I have found that it alienates many people to use words like “transhumance” or “post-human” (even though I do use them when the audience is receptive), or, it can be even more alienating to use the Big-S word itself… Just some things to think about. I base this on my own experience of trying to bring many of these topics into work at school (I am getting a degree in Cog Sci and Computational Engineering, after having been out of school the first time for 20 years). It seems that there is not so much resistance to the actual themes, but to the vocabulary applies to those themes (pretty petty, I know, but working with people is something at which I’ve managed a little bit of skill).’
as long as the Transhumanist community continues this one-sided- left-brain only- materialist fetishism trying to appeal to reductionists- they are going to flail in the wind-
transhumanism has suffered from this pathetic and quite obsolete scientism since McKenna passed- such a shame he had the CLEAREST and most balanced and REAL view of the Singularity and that is why his predictions have been the most successful and why his word informed the most people about the Singularity- since then everyone so desperately wants to be accepted by the scientific community- who are sinking like a stone due to decades of floundering/shifting theories- that they have abandoned the most true and most important aspects of the Singularity- and the whole reason it exists-
Ray comes close when he acknowledges that physics and biology are part of the LAR- but even he doesn’t seem to understand that ALL human history and each individual person’s lives are also guided by the Singularity Attractor- and that it is an attractor and not produced merely by causality from the past- and that it is also God- even though we all know that religion is the strongest and most attractive and infectious human motive the transhumanists have ignored that they are the strongest heralds of true theology- and abandoned it to appeal to the tiny dying monoculture of modern western materialism-
which is why those of us who do embrace and fully utilize the religious will prevail and become actual transhumans while materialist transhumanists will disappear like Steady State theorists’.
From either a biblical or transhumanist perspective, we assume that human beings are destined somehow to transcend themselves. Biblically, they are to inherit a kingdom of God as several religions, including mormons, teach.
The problem is, for weither singularity of kingdom of God, therexists no algorithm whatever to get there, and no axiomatic procedure to do so.
In either case, therefore, we are left with the fact that either it will occur inspite of our collective or individual efforts rather than because of them, or it wil never happen at all.
The teachings of Paul parallel concepts of the singularity because he has already stated quite plainly that there exists no such algorithm or decision procedure, first by implicatin in Romans 8:7, and then directly in both Romans 8:29-30 and 9:16-22.
Anyt attempt to consciously proceed either to a kingdom of God or singularity, therefore, will result in an infinity of different competing processes by which we may arrive.
Religion as a linear, mechanical process of organizing toward a truth that corresponds to a singularity can simply be regarded now, even from a biblical perspective.
Any intellectual attempt to arrive at such a destination can only result in either uncountable religious concepts of God, or such things as MWT or inflation theory.
Since christianity cannot grasp this principle and only produces continual splits and speciation, along with other religions, no religion can ever qualify as THE way to singularity, which means that whether we view it in terms of science, physics, or religion, the arrival of a singularity can only occur by an open-ended search into all available fields of knowledge, none of which can ever be determined in advanced by a programmable method.
Everybody gets there, or nobody gets there.