The Singularity

the IEEE
Spectrum has a Special Report on the Singularity up on their site.  Wikipedia has a handy basic definition of technological singularity:

The technological singularity is a hypothesised (sic) point in the future variously characterized by the technological creation of self-improving intelligence, unprecedentedly rapid technological progress, or some combination of the two

A vague definition that only scratches the surface of the varied theories and ideas behind the Singularity, but suitable as an introduction.  Popular films like The Matrix and The Terminator series reveal some dangers of the Singularity while Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs’ novels (Altered Carbon, etc.) focus on the immortality aspect of human consciousness transformed into something resembling a software program housed in hardware (i.e. our body).

In truth, at least as I see it, the concept (or theory if you prefer) is a weird intersecting of disparate sciences and philosophies that is fused into something that almost resembles religion; or spirituality at the very lest.  Viable or not it makes for interesting discussion and even more interesting fiction.

2 thoughts on “The Singularity

  1. aeonflux1964

    I am continually frustrated yet still hopeful about the potential of technology in general to greatly improve the lives of the human race. I’ve actively tracked, studied, dreamt about a forever distant future where most if not all of mankind’s problems are solved by predicted advances in technology that will alleviate poverty, sickness, scarity and all of problems our political, religuous and governmental institutions have failed to seriously positively impact or worse yet caused. So, I keep coming back to the promise of technology to save us from likely extinction or a slow downward spiral into ever increasing scarcity and depravity. Unfortunately, technology doesn’t seem to cooperate or stick to the schedule many including myself have set. I’m a huge sci-fi fan and I am amazed at how wrong some of our greatest sci-fi writers have been about the timimg of certain expected advances such as even basic AI. Case in point, 2001 A Space Odyssey by Isaac Asimov, one of our greatest thinkers abou the future. His first mistake was to put the year in the title of his stories. Here we are in 2009 and we are no where near the future he envisioned. I remember going to see 2001 many times with my brother thinking how great it would be to live in that future, even with HAL on the loose. I also voraciously read Popular Science every month to see what new advances were coming “right around the corner”. For the most part they never happened. Despite these dissapointments I still hold out hope that eventually the great advances I grew up dreamining about will come to pass. Am I the only one who feels this way?

  2. I just think that so many people look at ai from the wrong stand point… I think that something relatively simple can spawn a Strong AI it’s all about machine learning… in my opinion… Take ALICE(google it) for example… I’ve been playing with a way to make Alice smarter. I downloaded the Python version a few weeks ago and have been tweeking the source off and on… with this particular project there are only a few things missing… if you have ever felt bogged down by AI programming… download ALICE in python and play… with my tweeked version, I can ask her to open my web browser… I’m working on getting her to hold conversations with me about the current news… I’ve spent probably a total of 5 hours coding and the rest test her… it’s just too much fun…

    Basically I think that modeling the human brain is a waste of time as it relates to artificial intelligence…
    you don’t need software and hardware that works exactly like a brain… you need a semi-functioning model that you can adjust and tweek into life… if I had 3 years of spare time, and a big enough cash incentive… Well,
    let’s just say I could probably crank out a top notch AI of my own.

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