Tag Archives | Singularity

Why The Singularity Is Not Coming

singularityVia Edge.org, Bruce Sterling tells us what to not worry about:

Twenty years have passed since Vernor Vinge wrote his remarkably interesting essay about “the Singularity.”

This aging sci-fi notion has lost its conceptual teeth. Its chief evangelist, visionary Ray Kurzweil, just got a straight engineering job with Google. Despite its weird fondness for AR goggles and self-driving cars, Google is not going to finance any eschatological cataclysm in which superhuman intelligence abruptly ends the human era. Google is a firmly commercial enterprise.

We’re no closer to “self-aware” machines than in the 1960s. A modern wireless Cloud is an entirely different cyber-paradigm than imaginary 1990s “minds on nonbiological substrates” that might allegedly have the “computational power of a human brain.” A Singularity has no business model, no major power group in our society is interested in provoking one.

[Instead] we’re getting what Vinge predicted would happen without a Singularity, which is “a glut of technical riches never properly absorbed.”

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Five Corporation-Crushing Disruptive Technologies That Will Empower the Masses

disruptive tech headerEveryone knows we are at the mercy of huge corporations in multitude of ways.  Just look at Big Oil.  We are wildly dependent on them as not only individuals, but as a nation and a world.  Though Exxon stands atop the global economic podium, the technology sector isn’t far behind.  Apple made nearly as much in profits in 2012’s fourth quarter as Exxon (a ridiculous $8.2 billion).  Let’s bring that number down to Earth a bit.  Americans are spending an average of $444 per household per year on Apple products alone.  For further evidence, just look around your living room, or better yet, consider the origin of the screen you’re currently staring at.  Chances are, one swollen oligopoly or another made all the pieces of technology you’ve surveyed in the last few seconds.

However, chinks in the armor of these untouchable behemoths are beginning to take shape, leading some, like MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld to question the sustainability of today’s techno giants.… Read the rest

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Rift Amnesia– How Close Are We to Inventing the Matrix?

(Image Credit- theverge.com)

(Image Credit- theverge.com)

By now, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Oculus Rift reaction videos floating around the Internet.  In case you haven’t— Oculus Rift is essentially the first accessible, high quality set of stereoscopic virtual reality goggles.  Typical reactions to trying the goggles include awe, disbelief and mild confusion about voices in the room, due to the user’s brain being tricked into thinking they’re actually in the virtual space they’re perceiving.  If our brains are so easily tricked into accepting a new reality within minutes, it seems plausible that we aren’t too far from a virtual world so real, seductive and full of sensory stimulation that we might actually forget we’re in it, or just not want to leave it.

Admittedly, adorning a nice VR headset is not enough to seamlessly integrate us into an electronic world, but coupled with a technology known as a BCI (brain-computer interface), it might be. … Read the rest

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The 2045 Project: Cyborg Avatars Uploaded With Human Consciousness

milestones_small_enWhen you’re a tech multi-millionaire, this is the kind of project you come up with, at least in the case of 32-year-old Russian Dmitry Itskov. David Segal reports for the New York Times:

Get right up close to Dmitry Itskov and sniff all you like — you will not pick up even the faintest hint of crazy. He is soft-spoken and a bit shy, but expansive once he gets talking, and endearingly mild-mannered. He never seems ruffled, no matter what question you ask. Even if you ask the obvious one, which he has encountered more than a few times since 2011, when he started “this project,” as he sometimes calls it.

Namely: Are you insane?

“I hear that often,” he said with a smile, over lunch one recent afternoon in Manhattan. “There are quotes from people like Arthur C. Clarke and Gandhi saying that when people come up with new ideas they’re called ‘nuts.’ Then everybody starts believing in the idea and nobody can remember a time when it seemed strange.”

It is hard to imagine a day when the ideas championed by Mr.

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So Ray Kurzweil Wants To Live Forever…

Ray Kurzweil blue backgroundOk, so Ray Kurzweil is a man of above average intelligence and achievement, even if he only just got his first job (Google, of course), but is a desire to live forever a wise choice or foolish hubris? The Wall Street Journal reports on his quest for immortality:

Ray Kurzweil must encounter his share of interviewers whose first question is: What do you hope your obituary will say?

This is a trick question. Mr. Kurzweil famously hopes an obituary won’t be necessary. And in the event of his unexpected demise, he is widely reported to have signed a deal to have himself frozen so his intelligence can be revived when technology is equipped for the job.

Mr. Kurzweil is the closest thing to a Thomas Edison of our time, an inventor known for inventing. He first came to public attention in 1965, at age 17, appearing on Steve Allen’s TV show “I’ve Got a Secret” to demonstrate a homemade computer he built to compose original music in the style of the great masters.

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Has The Dystopian Singularity Already Occurred, In The Form Of Corporations?

The prime futurist fear is that humanity will create some advanced technology with an ostensibly positive purpose, but it will buck our control and undo the world as it pursues some twisted version of the ends it was programmed to achieve. Quiet Babylon writes that this artificially-sentient oppressor has already arrived:

One of my favorite recurring tropes of AI speculation/singulatarian deep time thinking is meditations on how an evil AI might destroy us.

Here’s an example: The scenario imagined is where there is a button that humans push if the AI gets an answer right and the AI wants to get a lot of button presses, and eventually it realizes that the best way to get button presses is to kill all the humans and institute a rapid fire button-pressing regime.

You would have this thing that behaves really well, until it has enough power to create a technology that gives it a decisive advantage — and then it would take that advantage and start doing what it wants to in the world.

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Supercomputers and Slang

We’re still waiting for machines to pass the Turing test. Recent film work with the chatbot Cleverbot shows the futility of passing the bar for natural conversation. But there are certainly things that bots do better than us, and even those humans who are trying to stifle their progress.

Via Fortune:

Eric Brown, a research scientist with IBM (IBM), is the brains behind Watson, the supercomputer that pummeled human opponents on Jeopardy! in 2011. The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang. “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is,” he says.

Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”

But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity — which the Urban Dictionary is full of.

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DisinfoCast 45: Micah Hanks, ‘The UFO Singularity’

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Technology, aliens, other dimensions, time travel and the Singularity! UFOlogist and Gralien Report host Micah Hanks drops by to discuss his new book The UFO Singularity: Why Are Past Unexplained Phenomena Changing Our Future? Where Will Transcending the Bounds of Current Thinking Lead? How Near is the Singularity? in this episode of the DisinfoCast.
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