Tag Archives | Singularity

Singularity Averted, The Google Machine Still Can’t Parse Irony

So now that google calculates bacon numbers automatically, a few pop culture mavens have been systematically trying to break it:

For example, I typed in the name of a high school friend who was legitimately in a movie with Kevin Bacon — Ben Saypol (hi, Ben!), “Telling Lies in America,” 1997 — and that gave me nothing, too, even though Ben is totally someone in the real world. And if you think you’re going to type in your own name and get an answer, forget it, unless you’re Susan Sarandon or something. It may not recognize you either.

The Google Box’s problems go deeper than that, however. Disinfo has discovered through the application of highly efficient research ninjas that the Google Box believes that Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was actually in the movie Powder. This seems to be because of long running joke based on the fact that Corgan is a creepy, pasty bald pale white guy, just like the creepy, pasty bald white guy main character in the creepy childmolester directed film sensation of 1995.… Read the rest

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“Joseph Campbell’s Vision for the Internet Age”

Picture: Joan Halifax (CC)

Beams and Struts examines the Singularity in a Campbellian context. The results are fascinating, even if you’re of a mind that Ray Kurzweil’s vision of a Geek Rapture is more wishful thinking than likely future.

Joseph Campbell would have been the first to point out the dangers of reading such science fiction as literal truth. In Campbell’s work, mythologies are never reduced to mere prophecy, belief, or individual religious sect; instead, stories often point toward underlying psychological phenomena that have universal significance and arise from a universal source, despite manifesting in specific cultural contexts. In other words, the cast of characters may change, but the essential plot remains the same. Read in this context, The Singularity could simply be a contemporary expression of an ancient mythological motif: the quest to cheat death. This theme, central to the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic, has been around for at least 3,000 years in literature.

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Robot learns ‘self-awareness’

Picture: Flickr user (((o.kvlt))) (CC)

Instead of being pre-programmed with experiential knowledge, a robot named Nico is learning the relationships of its grippers and sensors, space and environment.

Nico may be slowly approaching self-awareness, and its programmers are utilizing an even better test than the Turing Test. The ‘Mirror Test‘, the same one that we humans believe separates us (as well as elephants, magpies, orcas, dolphins and the great apes) from other tested species, by showing that we can both use the mirror as a tool to explore a reflected environment, and recognize that our reflections are indeed of ourselves.

Via Kurzweil AI:

Using knowledge that it has learned about itself, Nico is able to use a mirror as an instrument for spatial reasoning, allowing it to accurately determine where objects are located in space based on their reflections, rather than naively believing them to exist behind the mirror.

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Will Corporations Try To Stop The Singularity?

Division by zero

Photo: CERN (CC)


“Corporations are People, my friend”
and they might be slowing down evolution, or even preventing Utopia.

The approaching Technological Singularity could bring drastic changes, such as rendering money obsolete via the destruction of scarcity-based ‘value’ systems. The time is not far-off when nano-replication of gold, diamond or other previously precious materials becomes possible, rendering most economic systems obsolete.

It is clear that legacy-age institutional forces will naturally fight for their survival and relevance. How hard will they fight and can they be influenced to be less resistant?

Human beings are confused and confusing creatures. We don’t have very clear goal systems, and are quite willing and able to adapt our top-level goals to the circumstances. I have little doubt that most humans will go with the flow as Singularity approaches.

But corporations are a different matter. Corporations are entities/organisms unto themselves these days, with wills and cognitive structures quite distinct from the people that comprise them.

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Warren Ellis on The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs

Warren Ellis | The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: Episode 08

Warren Ellis

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Legendary comics author and novelist Warren Ellis joins me on The DisinfoCast for a conversation about the future that was, artificial intelligence, the Singularity, aliens (ancient and otherwise), the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, porn and even a little bit about comic books. Tune in.
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Singularity May Be Real, But Kurzweil’s Still A Jerk

Ray Kurzweil. Photo by Michael Lutch. Courtesy of Kurzweil Technologies, Inc.

Ray Kurzweil. Photo: Michael Lutch.

SYSTEM ALERT: Don’t listen to Ray Kurzweil!

He is dead wrong … just not how you think he is. If anything, his seemingly crackpot notion of Singularity — namely, that man and machine will be indistinguishable no later than 2045 — is so prescient and precise, to borrow a term from Battlestar Galactica, it’s frakin’ scary.

Look around you; we’re awful close as it is. From insulin pumps to robotic limbs to the chips embedded in Parkinson’s patients, an albeit fledgling Singularity is already here. And with IBM’s Watson having bested both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at Jeopardy!, this inert, bipartisan Mr. Smith came to Washington earlier this month and quickly disposed of Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Nan Hayworth (R-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), former Rhodes Scholar Jim Himes (D-CT) and trained nuclear physicist Rush Holt (D-NJ). For heaven’s sake, we’ve got robots in Japan, right now, that can dance better than Bristol Palin and Thom Yorke put together.… Read the rest

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Korean Artist Imagines a Tomorrow of Sentient Machines

Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two predicted this was the year when humanity would make contact with an alien intelligence. But if you’ve seen the work of U-Ram Choe, you know the shocking truth: They’re already here.

The brainchild of the South Korean sculptor, “New Urban Species” is an art show disguised as a natural history exhibit from the future, and it’s one of the most engaging displays on tour this year.

U-Ram Choe builds art that comes from a not-to-distant-tomorrow, where organic life and mechanized objects have become one. His kinetic sculptures are not only creepy-fun marvels, they also create a compelling dialog about machine consciousness and the coming Singularity.

In his book Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology, brain researcher Valentino Braitenberg demonstrates how human beings invest the increasingly complex behaviors of mechanical devices with a range of values and abilities including aggression, creative thinking, personality and free will, and how we project ourselves into these moving forms.… Read the rest

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Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Movie Crashes A Computer

A funny thing happened when they tried to screen The Singularity is Near. After the lights went down, a computer crash prevented the movie from starting! “Ray Kurzweil got back on stage…and good-naturedly reassured us that the technology was getting better. A couple of minutes later, the movie started…”


The new documentary is a clear rendition of the ideas in Kurzweil’s book, including nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, “with Bill McKibben in the role of the friendly flat out opponent, Bill Joy playing the reasonable but worried man, and Mitch Kapor doubting the technological possibilities… K. Eric Drexler, MIT roboticist Cynthia Breazeal, desktop manufacturing guru Neil Gershenfeld and many many more are woven in to support the idea – and the more hopeful potentials – of accelerating change leading to radical alterations in life (itself).”

The movie includes a second fictional narrative showing the future, “and – one of them, at least – is rather affecting.” And there’s also allusions to Fringe, The Matrix, and “lots of very groovy, trippy, and playful graphics.”

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A.I. Researcher Offers 11 Singularity Survival Tips

A.I. researcher Ben Goertzel reports back from the 2009 Singularity Summit in New York. Stephen Wolfram discussed Wolfram|Alpha, an IBM researcher described brain emulation, and Intel CTO Justin Rattner spoke “on his firm’s potential role in the Singularity.”

But in this follow-up article, Ben Goertzel describes what he learned in a day-long workshop/discussion group on averting catastrophic outcomes after a humanity-altering technological breakthrough.

For example, his list of “11 ways to avoid a bad Singularity” suggests that humanity should simply refrain from building any artificial intelligences that are autonomous…

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