Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Singularity is Near

If any of you are science nerds, then the Singularity should be as familiar to you as the hiding place for your Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit. But I realized how few people actually know of and understand this idea.

If you have any sort of historical perspective, or perhaps have been alive for more than 20 years or so, you might have noticed the increasingly rapid advances in technology. The idea that advances in technology spur new technology isn't new. It isn't even really that surprising. However, what is surprising is the speed of advancement in our own lifetimes (even if you haven't hit 25).


The Singularity is a point in the future human history in which technological advancement becomes so rapid that prediction on the state of human civilization becomes impossible. This isn't some crazy off the wall theory, either. Many scientists have commented on this and many believe it to be inevitable. The theorized events of singularity include ideas such as the thought that humans will become increasingly in control of our biology to the point where we will be able to merge with machines.



2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal


On Feb. 15, 1965, a diffident but self-possessed high school student named Raymond Kurzweil appeared as a guest on a game show called I've Got a Secret. He was introduced by the host, Steve Allen, then he played a short musical composition on a piano. The idea was that Kurzweil was hiding an unusual fact and the panelists — they included a comedian and a former Miss America — had to guess what it was.
On the show (see the clip on YouTube), the beauty queen did a good job of grilling Kurzweil, but the comedian got the win: the music was composed by a computer. Kurzweil got $200. 

Kurzweil then demonstrated the computer, which he built himself — a desk-size affair with loudly clacking relays, hooked up to a typewriter. The panelists were pretty blasé about it; they were more impressed by Kurzweil's age than by anything he'd actually done. They were ready to move on to Mrs. Chester Loney of Rough and Ready, Calif., whose secret was that she'd been President Lyndon Johnson's first-grade teacher.
But Kurzweil would spend much of the rest of his career working out what his demonstration meant. Creating a work of art is one of those activities we reserve for humans and humans only. It's an act of self-expression; you're not supposed to be able to do it if you don't have a self. To see creativity, the exclusive domain of humans, usurped by a computer built by a 17-year-old is to watch a line blur that cannot be unblurred, the line between organic intelligence and artificial intelligence.
That was Kurzweil's real secret, and back in 1965 nobody guessed it. Maybe not even him, not yet. But now, 46 years later, 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. 
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35 comments:

  1. very interesting read! love science.

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  2. To be honest, I'd hate being immortal, unless I never turned "old" and was always young.

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  3. I for one, look forward to welcoming our computorial overlords =)

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  4. Shit I want some augmentations like in Deus Ex.

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  5. I remember reading about this a long time ago... thanks for bringing it up again! Interesting blog.

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  6. I read about this too. Kind of a strange thing to think about about now.

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  7. Great article, the Singularity is fascinating

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  8. thanks for the link! i'm reading up right now. :D

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  9. Im doing a speech tomorrow that is a bit related to this, im takling about how quickly cellphone technology is changing (smartphones and stuff) It's true, things are changing faster and faster. I dont know how much of a bad thing this might be though.

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  10. hm, so i'd be immortal at 53

    WHY NOT 23? :(

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  11. This is intense, technology is improving so fast, it's impossible to predict where we will be in 20 years, let alone 5

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  12. Only 35 years? can't wait...but seriously, I don't think it will ever happen :)

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  13. Human technology advancement isn't linear, it's a quadruple.. thingy. Blah, don't know the correct english word for it D:

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  14. Can we say Skynet and we need to start looking for our John Connor.

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  15. this is such an interesting read. i'm a firm believer in science ^_^ x

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  16. i want the world be like in ghost in the shell
    brainhacking would be awesome :3

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  17. There's a running joke in the AI research community that for the past 30 years anytime anyone was asked when true AI (pass the Turing test) would appear the answer was always "it is 10 years away".

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  18. Wow this is pretty cool, I hadn't heard about this and it kind of reminds me of Evangelion.

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  19. THis was nice information to read, thanks. But i don't believe humanity has a future :P

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  20. Great post! Keep up the good blogging!

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  21. yeah agree with mac .. just imagine brainhacking

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  22. We really aren't that far off. I just wonder how we will actually merge our consciousness with a machine. I know how we could theoretically program a machine to think and act like us, but not to take that part of us that is self-aware.

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  23. technology is indeed increasing at a rapid rate. nice post.

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  24. Something like this will most likley happend in the next 50 years, just think about it we got all kinds of science now and look how fast its evolving! I dont think this is impossable

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  25. we will see, in this rate i cant imagine what technology will be available in 2045

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  26. I hope it goes up faster and faster :D

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  27. It's when computers find religion - that's when we've got to worry...

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  28. I think singularity is not near, and am afraid technology flow is beginning or might begin to slow down a bit soon. But that's just my opinion.

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  29. So close. I better figure out how to make a reliable EMP emitter for when the machines rise.

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  30. Thank you for sharing. This is amazing to think about.

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