Saturday, February 19, 2011

Singularity: I Am Not Convinced

Raymond Kurzweil, an American academicand author.Image via Wikipedia
Time: 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal: Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away...... computers are getting faster faster ...... Maybe we'll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities. Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we'll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually. Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us...... even though it sounds like science fiction, it isn't, no more than a weather forecast is science fiction ....... it will be the most important thing to happen to human beings since the invention of language...... He holds 39 patents and 19 honorary doctorates. In 1999 President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Technology...... The Singularity Is Near, which was a best seller when it came out in 2005 ..... Bill Gates has called him "the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence." ..... In real life, the transcendent man is an unimposing figure who could pass for Woody Allen's even nerdier younger brother. Kurzweil grew up in Queens, N.Y....... someone who gives 60 public lectures a year..... technological progress happens exponentially, not linearly. ....... Exponential curves start slowly, then rocket skyward toward infinity....... We will successfully reverse-engineer the human brain by the mid-2020s. By the end of that decade, computers will be capable of human-level intelligence. ...... 2045 .... the quantity of artificial intelligence created will be about a billion times the sum of all
Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (album)Image via Wikipediathe human intelligence that exists today....... Once you decide to take the Singularity seriously, you will find that you have become part of a small but intense and globally distributed hive of like-minded thinkers known as Singularitarians. ....... They think in terms of deep time, they believe in the power of technology to shape history, they have little interest in the conventional wisdom about anything, and they cannot believe you're walking around living your life and watching TV as if the artificial-intelligence revolution were not about to erupt and change absolutely everything........ When you enter their mind-space you pass through an extreme gradient in worldview, a hard ontological shear that separates Singularitarians from the common run of humanity. Expect turbulence....... Proponents of seasteading — the practice, so far mostly theoretical, of establishing politically autonomous floating communities in international waters ........ After artificial intelligence, the most talked-about topic at the 2010 summit was life extension. Biological boundaries that most people think of as permanent and inevitable Singularitarians see as merely intractable but solvable problems. Death is one of them. Old age is an illness like any other, and what do you do with illnesses? You cure them. ....... The mice didn't just get better; they got younger....... damage can be repaired periodically. This is why we have vintage cars. ...... Kurzweil has published two books on his own approach to life extension, which involves taking up to 200 pills and supplements a day. He says his diabetes is essentially cured, and although he's 62 years old from a chronological perspective, he estimates that his biological age is about 20 years younger....... Once hyper-intelligent artificial intelligences arise, armed with advanced nanotechnology, they'll really be able to wrestle with the vastly complex, systemic problems associated with aging in humans....... t many people who are alive today will wind up being functionally immortal....... People invested a lot of personal effort into certain philosophies dealing with the issue of life and death. I mean, that's the major reason we have religion." ........ strong AI or artificial general intelligence, doesn't exist yet. ..... there are things going on in our brains that can't be duplicated electronically no matter how many MIPS you throw at them. The neurochemical architecture that generates the ephemeral chaos we know as human consciousness may just be too complex and analog to replicate in digital silicon...... Multiple biochemical processes create chemical modifications of protein molecules, further diversified by association with distinct structures at defined locations of a cell. The resulting combinatorial explosion of states endows living systems with an almost infinite capacity to store information regarding past and present conditions and a unique capacity to prepare for future events." That makes the ones and zeros that computers trade in look pretty crude. ...... introducing a superior life-form into your own biosphere is a basic Darwinian error....... Markram has said that he hopes to have a complete virtual human brain up and running in 10 years ..... In Kurzweil's future, biotechnology and nanotechnology give us the power to manipulate our bodies and the world around us at will, at the molecular level. 
Cover of Cover via AmazonProgress hyperaccelerates, and every hour brings a century's worth of scientific breakthroughs. We ditch Darwin and take charge of our own evolution. The human genome becomes just so much code to be bug-tested and optimized and, if necessary, rewritten. Indefinite life extension becomes a reality; people die only if they choose to. Death loses its sting once and for all. Kurzweil hopes to bring his dead father back to life...... Within a matter of centuries, human intelligence will have re-engineered and saturated all the matter in the universe. ....... There are more than 2,000 robots fighting in Afghanistan alongside the human troops...... Nothing gets old as fast as the future...... Singularitarianism is grounded in the idea that change is real and that humanity is in charge of its own fate and that history might not be as simple as one damn thing after another.

I could run at two miles per hour. I could run at three miles per hour. If you extrapolate that then I should be able to run at 60 miles per hour. But I don't think that is happening.

I have not read enough on the topic, I have not read much at all. So these are my first impressions.

Besides my idea of singularity is end of poverty, a total spread of democracy, universal broadband, things like that.

I want really, really smart computers just like I have been okay with fast trains and fast planes. Computers are nice. But the gulf between computers and humans is still so so wide, the singularity that Kurzweil talks about feels like too much extrapolation. I am not running at 60 miles per hour, not now, not tomorrow.

In physics they have the speed of light. Nothing in the universe can move faster than the speed of light. I think somewhere down the line we are going to encounter a similar limitation to as to how intelligent a computer can become.

A car can move faster than a human. But the car does not replace the human. The car remains but a slave to the human. I think really fast computers are like really fast cars.

I am also suspicious of those who think they can reverse aging and end death. You can't. I wish people long lives and I wish people health all the way to dying, but die you will. I am personally at peace with the fact that some day I will die. My focus is not on preventing that eventual death but living a full life. I would like to die a healthy old man.

A science that is singularly focused on computer speeds and natural decay speeds of bodily organs is not social enough, would you say?

A lot of wonderful things will happen on the way to that supposed Singularity, but Singularity itself will not happen. That is what I believe as of today.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

> I could run at two miles per hour. I could run at three miles per hour. If you extrapolate that then I should be able to run at 60 miles per hour. But I don't think that is happening.

Let's skip opinion and look at fact.