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Author Topic:   The Social Implications Of "The Singularity Moment"
Phat
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Posts: 10225
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 1 of 169 (604512)
02-12-2011 10:39 AM


Recently, I read an article in Time Magazine titled 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal In it, they discuss the rapid advance in artificial intelligence, and have popularized the phrase "The singularity" as the moment when computers become capable themselves of designing more intelligent computers ad infinitum.

Time Magazine writes:

It's impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you'd be as smart as they would be. But there are a lot of theories about it. 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. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity.

Personally, I think that such an advance will free humans up to become more artistic, but I wonder how we will be able to understand and direct the technology if it progresses beyond the mathematical and technological comprehension of most of us?

Social Ideas In Creation/Evolution? Mod, you decide where to put it.


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AdminSlev
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Posts: 113
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Message 2 of 169 (604514)
02-12-2011 7:15 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Social Implications Of "The Singularity Moment" thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
dwise1
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Posts: 3027
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 3 of 169 (604518)
02-12-2011 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
02-12-2011 10:39 AM


Have spent most of today going through the programs I DVR'd during the week. On a show from Monday, I got my first look at a car commercial for the newest iteration of a muscle car -- Camero?. The voice-over describes all kinds of new automotive technology in which the car is doing more and more of the driving for you. And next they're living off our bodies' energy ( la The Matrix). Finally, their slogan: "The Human Resistance starts now!"

This theme has been explored by science fiction for millennia -- with everything provided and done for us, will we become like the Lotus Eaters? In the Robot novels by Isaac Asimov, on the colony worlds that had embraced the robots and human longevity increased greatly, humans lived long boring pampered lives cut off from direct human contact (thanks to virtual reality comm links -- envisioned in the 1950's) and protected from all dangers by their ever-attentive robot servents (the movie misrepresented Asimov's vision), nobody took any kind of personal risks anymore. Or would that robotic service take the form of deciding that the entire human race is mentally incompetent and take all our decisions away form us, reducing us all to "wards of the state"? Even to the point of basically keeping us and caring for us as pets?

Of course, there's also the vision of that new self-aware cyber-intelligence seeing humans as a threat and treating us accordingly. In the earlier stages of that cyber-intelligence, that seems the more likely outcome; dedication to serving Man (in a purely non-culinary manner, of course) would be a later development, unless very explicitly programmed in at the most basic levels, IAW Asimov's Robotic Laws.

Speaking of which, I remember an NPR report from when either Clarke or Asimov died -- I think it was Clarke. The two of them had gone together to see the movie co-developed with Clarke's novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Coming out after the movie, Asimov complained that HAL had acted in violation of the Robotic Laws, in particular in the First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. In response, Clarke pointed out that most robots then in use (1968), namely guided missiles, were specifically designed to kill humans.


Those who fail to learn the lessons of science fiction are doomed to live them.


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jar
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Posts: 29749
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 4 of 169 (604519)
02-12-2011 8:19 PM


How was Watson buried?
Nine side down.

Now let's see how Watson does on Jeopardy.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
  
nwr
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Posts: 5544
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 5 of 169 (604520)
02-12-2011 8:43 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
02-12-2011 10:39 AM


There isn't going to be a "singularity moment."


Jesus was a liberal hippie
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Theodoric
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Posts: 5772
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 9.6


Message 6 of 169 (604521)
02-12-2011 8:51 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
02-12-2011 10:39 AM


Timely subject. This month Skeptic Magazine has an article entitled "The Singularity Isnt Even Close: Why Ray Kurzweils Predictions About the Future Are Flawed"

The article does a great job showing the flaws of Kurzweil's Singularity and exposes it for the hooey it is.

I highly suggest you pick up a copy.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 169 (604522)
02-12-2011 9:08 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Theodoric
02-12-2011 8:51 PM


Ray Kurzwiels' pretty much predicting science fiction, but the notion that the rate of technological change will increase past our ability to culturally absorb the changes is clearly true. The rate of technological change has never decreased throughout human history. The people who are predicting that it will are the ones making predictions utterly at odds with history, not Kurzweil.

Does that mean AI, teleportation, living forever in virtual worlds? Who knows? The point of the "singularity" is that it's the point at which technological change is happening so fast the results can't be predicted.

And it just can't be argued that that is going to someday be the case.


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jar
Member
Posts: 29749
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 8 of 169 (604524)
02-12-2011 9:34 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by crashfrog
02-12-2011 9:08 PM


crashfrog writes:

Ray Kurzwiels' pretty much predicting science fiction, but the notion that the rate of technological change will increase past our ability to culturally absorb the changes is clearly true. The rate of technological change has never decreased throughout human history. The people who are predicting that it will are the ones making predictions utterly at odds with history, not Kurzweil.

Does that mean AI, teleportation, living forever in virtual worlds? Who knows? The point of the "singularity" is that it's the point at which technological change is happening so fast the results can't be predicted.

And it just can't be argued that that is going to someday be the case.

Of course they can be predicted. It will mean more infotainment. If Watson can win at Jeopardy, the "Big Brother House" can be next. Then who knows, "American Android", "Cyborg Island".


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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Theodoric
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Posts: 5772
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 9.6


Message 9 of 169 (604537)
02-12-2011 11:14 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by crashfrog
02-12-2011 9:08 PM


Maybe read some of what Kurzweil writes?
but the notion that the rate of technological change will increase past our ability to culturally absorb the changes is clearly true.

Why?

The point of the "singularity" is that it's the point at which technological change is happening so fast the results can't be predicted.

Maybe you should read a little of Kurzweil.

Epoch Six

quote:
... Kurzweil predicts that all particles of the universe will be endowed with data processing capabilities and also will be able to store knowledge. This is where the universe will "wake up". (besides this, an awful lot of good things, including eternal life, are supposed to come to humanity in the future.)

Excerpted from Skeptic Magazine Vol. 16 No.2 page 20

Kurzweil's singularity is not what you seem to think it is.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 169 (604550)
02-13-2011 2:14 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Theodoric
02-12-2011 11:14 PM


Re: Maybe read some of what Kurzweil writes?
Why?

What's going to stop it? The rate of technological change has only ever increased.

Kurzweil's singularity is not what you seem to think it is.

I'm sorry, I wasn't describing Kurzweil's singularity. Clearly, he's making untenable predictions.

But sweeping dismissals of the idea of singularity on the basis of Kurzweil spinning fables are clearly nonsense, too.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 3027
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 11 of 169 (604551)
02-13-2011 2:58 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by crashfrog
02-13-2011 2:14 AM


Re: Maybe read some of what Kurzweil writes?
What Kurzweil has written may be of some academic interest, but he is undoubtedly wrong. As anybody's attempt to predict the future would be.

Has any creator of a technology been able to predict its uses and effects? Computers, named "The Machine that Changed the World" in the PBS series of the same name, were deemed to be of such specialized use that its creators could envision the world as not needing any more than a dozen computers -- and bear in mind that any of those computers were outstripped by the "true Blue" IBM XT, which rated a Norton Index of only 1 (we have long since abandoned the Norton Index, so how many 10's or 100's or 1000's NIs would our current quad-core machines rate at?).

The creators of GPS thought that their creation would last so short a time that they only allowed for 10 bits (1024, AKA "1K(binary)") for the number of weeks that it would be in service (GPS time is given in week-numbers and seconds into the week). Before the much-feared "Y2K bug", we were faced with the "GPS1K bug" (term being my own personal invention) which hit on 22 Aug 1999, at which time any particular GPS receiver could have become terminally confused as to the date and time, and hence as to its location. Since then, we have gone on to define "GPS epochs" lasting 210 weeks each (1024 weeks, 19.69 years), and designed our receivers to properly determine which epoch is the current one.

The creators of the Internet envisioned such a limited use of the Internet that the limited addresses afforded by IPv4 was deemed to be far more than sufficient to satisfy any and all needs. Within the past month or two, we officially ran out of IPv4 addresses. Just as emerging and future technology and plans were for an exponential explosion of addresses needed. IPv6 and extended use of NAT (Network Address Translation, which has staved off the exhaustion of addresses for a couple decades so far) should satisfy that demand, but the Internet backbone needs to be upgraded.

Humans attempting reasoned and calculated predictions of how technology will affect future humans and human society will inevitable fall short. Science fiction writers will reach even further and will, very likely, over-reach. What will actually happen seems to lie somewhere in the middle, still difficult to predict. To be sure, our society is affected by technology, and the drive of developing new technology is affected by society. Until, possibly, technology is able to take off on its own and advance for its own purposes, which I would assume is supposed to be that "singularity moment".

Though still, science fiction cannot be ignored. One German name for science fiction was "Zukunftsromane" (future novels), while another was "Mglichkeitsfiction" (fiction about possibilities). Many different sicence fiction writers have thought about and written about where technology may eventually lead us.


The sole survivor of a pre-hyperspace sleeper ship wanders through the station's Zcalo, going increasingly into shock over the numbers and varieties of alien races in existence, until she come face-to-face with Narn ambassador G'Kar, who informs her:
The future isn't what it used to be.


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Rrhain
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Posts: 6208
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 12 of 169 (604553)
02-13-2011 3:42 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
02-12-2011 10:39 AM


Phat quotes Time:

Maybe we'll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually.

OK, can we put this concept to bed forever? The above is not physically possible because your mind, your personality, what makes you you is inherently part of your brain. The neurons in your head are what make you you.

Oh, you might be able to make a copy of that and have it run inside a computer, but that won't be you: It'll be a copy of you. It might live forver (so long as the power runs out and there aren't any bugs in the system), but you'll cease to exist when your brain ceases to exist.

Of course, that gives rise to the idea of replacing the neurons in your brain with artificial ones that can be sustained indefinitely. Interesting thought. Assuming that the physical replacement of neurons can be accomplished without interfering with the functionality of the brain, notice the scenario: You are replacing a physical object with an identical physical object. You aren't copying your brain, you are refitting it. There's a difference. Even if we were able to replace every neuron with a cybernetic version, it wouldn't be a copy. You'd still be in there.

Do these people not understand what the word "copy" means?


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.
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dwise1
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Posts: 3027
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 13 of 169 (604555)
02-13-2011 4:10 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Rrhain
02-13-2011 3:42 AM


That re-ignites an old Star Trek argument. I believe I first saw it presented by Dr. McCoy in an early novel (circa 1970) -- I no longer possess it, though I do remember several details about it. If the transporter scans you entirely and completely and disassemble you and reconstructs you at the target location, then it's not really you that had transported down, but rather a copy of you.

So how does a "copy of you" know differently than you yourself? For this, we may need to shift to"The Sixth Day, wherein the differences between the original and the copies lies in how many dots you see on your lower eyelid. The difference is that in the Star Trek universe, the "original" and the transported "copies" does not exist.


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Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6208
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 14 of 169 (604556)
02-13-2011 4:16 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by dwise1
02-13-2011 4:10 AM


dwise1 responds to me:

quote:
If the transporter scans you entirely and completely and disassemble you and reconstructs you at the target location, then it's not really you that had transported down, but rather a copy of you.

Well, no. If you're disassembled and reassembled, then it isn't a copy of you. It's still you. Just because your molecules have moved doesn't make them different molecules.

quote:
So how does a "copy of you" know differently than you yourself?

It doesn't, at least not at first. A perfect copy of you would have all of your experiences and knowledge up to the moment of replication at which point it would start to have different experiences compared to the original.

My favorite explanation for the transporter: It scans your body to determine the momentum of every particle in your body. Due to Uncertainty, this now means it has no idea of your position. It then searches the entire universe looking for you except for the place that you are, which you then appear in.

Edited by Rrhain, : fixing the dBCodes


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.
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Theodoric
Member
Posts: 5772
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 9.6


Message 15 of 169 (604592)
02-13-2011 10:43 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by crashfrog
02-13-2011 2:14 AM


Re: Maybe read some of what Kurzweil writes?
but the notion that the rate of technological change will increase past our ability to culturally absorb the changes is clearly true.

Why?

What's going to stop it? The rate of technological change has only ever increased.

I don't think you answered why.

Others, well known in the technological field disagree with your assessment.

quote:
Many prominent technologists and academics dispute the plausibility of a technological singularity, including Jeff Hawkins, John Holland, Jaron Lanier, and Gordon Moore, whose eponymous Moore's Law is often cited in support of the concept.

Source
The wiki article even links to original sources.

I'm sorry, I wasn't describing Kurzweil's singularity. Clearly, he's making untenable predictions.

But sweeping dismissals of the idea of singularity on the basis of Kurzweil spinning fables are clearly nonsense, too.


Well the article in Time is about Kurzweil's thoughts on the subject, so I think maybe that should be what we are talking about. But all this talk of a technological singularity is seemingly a bunch of unsubstantiated hooey.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
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