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Sunday, July 07, 2002


This time in a Scifi chat about singularity. On one view the term "singularity" refers to the geometric rate of the growth of technology and the idea that this growth will lead to a superhuman machine that will far exceed the human intellect, but Kurzweil has his own interpretation:

RayKurzweil: I think it would first make sense to discuss what the Singularity is. The definition offered at the beginning of this chat is one view, but there are others.

Gardner: Go for it.

RayKurzweil: I think that once a nonbiological intelligence (i.e., a machine) reaches human intelligence in its diverse dimensions, it will necessarily soar past it because (i) computational and communication power will continue to grow exponentially, (ii) machines can master information with far greater capacity and accuracy already and most importantly, machines can share their knowledge. We don't have quick downloading ports on our neurotransmitter concentration patterns, or interneuronal connection patterns. Machines will.RayKurzweil: if we can combine strong AI, nanotechnology and other exponential trends, technology will appear to tear the fabric of human understanding by around the mid 2040s by my estimation. However,

RayKurzweil: the event horizon of the Singularity can be compared to the concept of Singularity in physics. As one gets near a black hole, what appears to be an event horizon from outside the black hole appears differently from inside. The same will be true of this historical Singularity. Once we get there, if one is not crushed by it (which will require merging with the technology), then it will not appear to be a rip in the fabric, one will be able to keep up with it.

Gardner: Seems unlikely to me that EVERYONE will have an equal capacity for keeping up with it. There are people today who have trouble keeping up even with the 20th Century, like the Amish.

RayKurzweil: The Amish seem to fit in well. I could think of other examples of people who would like to turn the clock back.

Gardner: Many. So won't the same be true during the Singularity?

RayKurzweil: But in terms of opportunity, this is the have-have not issue. Keep in mind that because of what I call the "law of accelerating returns," technology starts out unaffordable, becomes merely expensive, then inexpensive, then free.

Vernor Vinge: True, but the better analogy is across the entire kingdom of life

Gardner: How do you mean that, Vernor?

RayKurzweil: We can imagine some bacteria discussing the pros and cons of evolving into more advanced species like humans. There might be some strong arguments against doing so.....If bacteria could talk,of course.

Gardner: From the bacterias point of view, they might be right.
Source: SCIFI.COM (Thanks to Cory Doctorow)

Keep sockin it to them Ray lad!

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