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Sir_Sefirot
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04 Feb 2007, 4:22 pm

*ALERT* This is not about PC Games or whatever like this :)

http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0 ... rintable=1

Has anyone ever heard about The Technological Singularity and Transhumanist theory? I heard about it about half a year ago, and since then I've read lots of books about the topic, and about AI intelligence. I was sceptic at first but everyday I'm more into it. It can work.

What do you think?


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tiberius_grey
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06 Feb 2007, 5:45 pm

I've known of it since I read Ray's 1999 book "The Age of Spiritual Machines." The thing about Ray is that he's too optimistic (as are most transhumanists). I do have to admit that what he writes is all possible, but the realm of possibilities is enormous, and this is just one of them. I've read a lot on the subject too, I'm even writing my doctoral thesis on Genetic Algorithms and Neural Networks. Just remember, it's never a bad thing to hope, and I do hope that they're right. But I won't plunge headlong into any system of beliefs without learning everything I can about it. From what I can surmise, Transhumanism is too close to being a religion for my comfort.

I suggest doing what I'm doing. Follow the trends of technology and progress, stay informed, hope for the best. But, live your life to its fullest now, keeping in mind that most probably you'll live to be 75-95. Oh, and also, it doesn't hurt to stay in great health, you never know. :wink:


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07 Feb 2007, 12:06 am

It's good point out all the neat stuff that's coming out, but I don't know if I agree with the conclusion or not.



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22 Feb 2007, 4:52 pm

The postulate that a technological singularity will in the future, occur, is highly popular amongst my community (especially those attempting to derive solutions for NP hard problems, quantum computing and quantum unification). I have worked in and on all of these areas, so yes I agree with such a premise.

Do not forget, that to the mathematician, the realm of possibility is also the realm of probability.



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23 Feb 2007, 6:28 am

Well I don't know about a technological singularitiy, but there are a few things to consider in this regard:

a) the apparent finiteness of the speed of light. there ain't no such thing as a tachyon, according to all the s**t that is coming out of fermilab. that would put a limit to our ability to how much technological progress we can make in that regard
b) the quantum theory seems to put a limit on nanoscaling, and seems to rule out pico/ femto-technology, which could limit our progressiveness.
c) the finiteness of earth's, and the solar system's resources... according to Michio Kaku we are estimated to reach Type I Kardashev civilization (this could be conceived of as reaching the singularity, though a lot of scholars seem to place more importance upon the creation of posthuman AI) status by around 2200, although I am guessing human-population stresses resulting in a depletion of resources (aluminium, oil, yellowcake etc etc) might impinge upon this, getting us into an interplanetary catch 22.
d) the possibility (or more interestingly, the belief) that we live in a false vacuum quantum field, which could lead to reluctance to build particle colliders that exceed a few hundred TeV, and thus a delay in unifying gravity with electromagnetism, the strong and weak forces, which may or may not be necessary for things like speedy interstellar/ intercluster/ intergalactic travel (just going to wormhole the 50 megaparsecs down the shops to get a copy of the mail on sunday & a packet of silk cut) or the creation of accurate human/posthuman-level AI (i.e. accurate neuronal simulational). A belief in the plausibility of the creation of stable strangelets could have similar effects.
e) the possibility that in 50 years time we'll be living under a global caliphate ruled by the son of dr. ayman al-zawahiri which outlaws capitalism & science. ok that is a bit of an extreme example, but human beings do seems to have a tendency to morally revolt against anything which seems to violate traditional values and norms, and as such, an increased rate of technological progress can lead to an increased amount of moral indignation, which I guess is why we see the spread of anti-Western traditionalism in some parts of the world today.

As for transhumanism, I think the concept is in-itself flawed, because we are (like all other species) constantly evolving as a species, even if this does not result in the act of speciation. It is an interesting postulate to consider that our genomes probably vary vastly from that of the first 'homo sapiens', as there have been countless mutations since.



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23 Feb 2007, 7:55 am

tiberius_grey wrote:
I've known of it since I read Ray's 1999 book "The Age of Spiritual Machines." The thing about Ray is that he's too optimistic (as are most transhumanists). I do have to admit that what he writes is all possible, but the realm of possibilities is enormous, and this is just one of them. I've read a lot on the subject too, I'm even writing my doctoral thesis on Genetic Algorithms and Neural Networks. Just remember, it's never a bad thing to hope, and I do hope that they're right. But I won't plunge headlong into any system of beliefs without learning everything I can about it. From what I can surmise, Transhumanism is too close to being a religion for my comfort.

I suggest doing what I'm doing. Follow the trends of technology and progress, stay informed, hope for the best. But, live your life to its fullest now, keeping in mind that most probably you'll live to be 75-95. Oh, and also, it doesn't hurt to stay in great health, you never know. :wink:


The Age of Spiritual Machines is one of my favorite books. While Ray is optimistic, he's also very intelligent and optimism is actually a good thing.


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lau
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23 Feb 2007, 8:33 am

I'm always amazed at the arguments against "The Singularity". They all rely on the same sort of argument as the one that said we'd suffocate on a train if it travelled at more than 30mph.

It's just occurred to me that the reason we're not already fully informed that it indeed will happen is that we still haven't got over the joke that we played (are playing) on ourselves by not coming back to tell ourselves. Stupid to spoil the punchline!



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03 Mar 2007, 5:13 am

Won't happen - the article is very broad and doesn't account for our basic instinct - self preservation.

....have a look at GM research and the like, we won't even eat a plant that has been modified outside of the natural time-evolution set on our planet.

The fact that humans also 'enjoy' aspects of thier current state restrict them from ever plunging into a new state.... it's like the dolphin, why would it want to leave the ocean, it seems to be having fun.


-The think tanks of the world are also helping to hold back any sudden upsurge in technoligical advancement outside of our own ability to understand... have a look at Msoft's history... it took us the CLI, then the GUI (in steps) and now VM and .NET . -- we could have all skipped this and just used Unix/Java which already had all of what we see today... it's just that it's nice to wait for more people to be adept at being on the same par as the highest possible end state for a particular technology. (This is the opposite of what Apple does - which doesn't educate, it just makes it work for humans, without us actually caring what is behind the scenes)

In order for us to evolve to the singularity - we all have to evolve together... expect a huge war in 200 years time, for the control over the type of next generation society we will have.... 3rd world states and the traditional beholders to our evolution will not be happy with the neural chip generations.



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03 Mar 2007, 6:23 am

Several things you say, Erlyrisa, sound sensible, but I feel you have somewhat missed the point?

We do not evolve into the singularity.
I've put stress on any of the three places.

Firstly, if it's AI that gets there. it's not "we".

Secondly, "evolve" carries the implication of lthe latest, greatest system on this planet - DNA based genetic organic. I think we are in the process of moving to a new system. Self-modification isn't quite in tune with the word "evolve". Memetic does quite sound right to me, either, but maybe.

Finally, it's not that there is some "thing", which we can understand in advance, which we we evolve "into". We are the singularity already, in a sense. Or rather, I should say we may be the singularity.

I add that last "may" bit is because I certainly can see that there is no guarantee. We could easily wreck the planet first, and close off our branch of evolution - that's easy. We could also be hit by a comet, any time.

What I cannot see happening is a long drawn out, shuffle towards the "next" change. Anything you care to pick about our progress so far... it just does work that way.

Finally, as a general comment, "emergent" behaviour is the game. You just don't get to make accurate predictions of exactly what will happen. I know I don't.

(Ooops! I think I just shot myself in my own foot.)



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03 Mar 2007, 6:50 am

Nope no and no :)

-Have a look at the renaissance.... the aceptance that the world is flat took centuries. ...and this is actually a good thing, just becuase 1 person says it's flat doesn't mean everyone has to believe it automatically.


-The MATRIX evolution is a fallacy... humans will not allow themselves to ever be outperformed by an artificial intelligence. The greater likelyhood is that we will try to hold on to ourselves as being ourselves somewhat like the Star Trek way.

-Sure some humans will do test scenarios of Autonomously Thinking machines, but we would be sure to destroy them before they are smart enough to interact in our reality.


-Take the matrix example,, where the PC has taken over the world. The PC's next form of evolution should be to escape the confines of globule of rock called a planet. Then it becomes a 'hard ware less entity' and IS the singularity that is GOD.

-The case that we would let our own creation compete on the same playing field as our own evolution , just won't happen.

eg. if I were a baseball player and my income was based on how well I played - why would I create a robot which would nullify my need to play baseball, which by the way I enjoy doing.

-the StarTrek Star Gate evolutionary format is has the higher probability because that is the state that we are in now. -the 'intelligent nova' thing has a lower probability because with the expanse of the universe then it should be proof that something like that already exists., and entities which are in between the 'singularity design' and evolving to that design, would have a long time ago interacted with thier surroundings, making them 'visible to us'.


The idea that we are already living in the matrix - I can adhere too. In which case there is no point to life.... we are merely an infintesmally moment away from being rebooted.



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03 Mar 2007, 7:40 am

Erlyrisa wrote:
Nope no and no :)


I can see I need to take all these on one by one :)
Erlyrisa wrote:
-Have a look at the renaissance.... the aceptance that the world is flat took centuries. ...and this is actually a good thing, just becuase 1 person says it's flat doesn't mean everyone has to believe it automatically.

I'm not quite sure which of the flat/round earth ideas you are talking about here. For a short period, IIRC, the church seemed to want it to be flat. The idea didn't really ever catch on. Reality has a nasty habit of creeping up and showing itself.

Erlyrisa wrote:
-The MATRIX evolution is a fallacy... humans will not allow themselves to ever be outperformed by an artificial intelligence. The greater likelyhood is that we will try to hold on to ourselves as being ourselves somewhat like the Star Trek way.

No other species on this planet had any say in whether it was out-evolved. Why should we be an exception? "The Matrix" is sufficiently off-beat to be a hint of what may happen. Pretty as "Star Trek" is, and I love it, always did, always will, it is hardly much more than "Cowboys in Space". As a prediction of the future is is wildly flawed in so many ways. (Static politics, exceed speed of light, aliens exist, aliens communicate, pointy ears).

Erlyrisa wrote:
-Sure some humans will do test scenarios of Autonomously Thinking machines, but we would be sure to destroy them before they are smart enough to interact in our reality.

That's a bit like saying "We'll only experiment with jumping off this cliff". :)

Erlyrisa wrote:
-Take the matrix example,, where the PC has taken over the world. The PC's next form of evolution should be to escape the confines of globule of rock called a planet. Then it becomes a 'hard ware less entity' and IS the singularity that is GOD.

Read some "Iain M Banks" - his future history has both the god-like machines and the enhanced(-trekkie?)-humans.
Erlyrisa wrote:
-The case that we would let our own creation compete on the same playing field as our own evolution , just won't happen.

eg. if I were a baseball player and my income was based on how well I played - why would I create a robot which would nullify my need to play baseball, which by the way I enjoy doing.


Interesting points, again. But I can't quite see the relevance. So far as I know, research is already far down the line of doing exactly what you say won't happen.
How many hand-built cars are on the road these days?
I can't talk in baseball terms, because that's only international in the US (grin), but professional football (I refuse to call it soccer - oops, I just did) players, so far as I know, have very little interest in the "enjoyment" of playing. They go for the money. If they could buy a robot that undetectably could be sneaked onto the pitch to do the hard work for them, I suspect they might well fund it. Maybe they already have.

Erlyrisa wrote:
-the StarTrek Star Gate evolutionary format is has the higher probability because that is the state that we are in now. -the 'intelligent nova' thing has a lower probability because with the expanse of the universe then it should be proof that something like that already exists., and entities which are in between the 'singularity design' and evolving to that design, would have a long time ago interacted with thier surroundings, making them 'visible to us'.

Oh gosh! I have no idea what "The Singularity" will look like. By its nature, it is pretty much impossible to say. Maybe other races hitting their singularities are what triggers novae? I'm sure I don't know. It seems unlikely.
One thing we have no solid evidence of is any other race in the universe having stuck around to chat with us. To my mind, if the "Star Trek" scenario has any chance, it has to answer to some very serious questions:
*) Are we really the first/only universe life that will get there? (Very anthropic to think this)
*) How come we have no evidence of the earlier ones? (I don't count flying saucers)
*) Why do the others stop all scientific, technologic and biologic development, for millenia?

"Star Trek" I can almost credit, as a very brief interlude... no... it just doesn't make sense. I can understand it. It can't be true.

Erlyrisa wrote:
The idea that we are already living in the matrix - I can adhere too. In which case there is no point to life.... we are merely an infintesmally moment away from being rebooted.

I disagree yet again. I think we have already been reboo



lau
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03 Mar 2007, 7:51 am

ted.

I don't mean any of this to sound depressing. In fact, I'm terrificly enthusiastic about "The Sigularity", because it's how I get to be immortal. I'm really very annoyed that it's late. Long ago, I predicted it for a few years back already. Now I want it within as short a space as possible, otherwise I'll have all that tedious waiting around, dead, before I'm back.



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03 Mar 2007, 9:57 am

I'll have my own take on it, I hope you don't mind.

Erlyrisa wrote:
Nope no and no :)

-Have a look at the renaissance.... the aceptance that the world is flat took centuries. ...and this is actually a good thing, just becuase 1 person says it's flat doesn't mean everyone has to believe it automatically.


What people think doesn't matter and is completely irrelevant. Facts matter, and facts support The Singularity overhelmingly, at least as I see it.

Erlyrisa wrote:
-The MATRIX evolution is a fallacy... humans will not allow themselves to ever be outperformed by an artificial intelligence. The greater likelyhood is that we will try to hold on to ourselves as being ourselves somewhat like the Star Trek way.


I don't agree at all with that. "Normal" humans may do not agree with it, but some organizations would find a superhuman intelligence extremely useful, which would cause other organizations to use them too, which... you get the drill. It is exactly the same argument that preceded mechanical machines in the Industrial Revolution, and you can see which side was right :P

Erlyrisa wrote:
-Sure some humans will do test scenarios of Autonomously Thinking machines, but we would be sure to destroy them before they are smart enough to interact in our reality.


Well, I know ONE human who wouldn't, and that's me. And I'm not the only one. And if some humans use AIs to their profit, the others will be forced to catch up or go down. Sure, you can illegalize AIs and all that, but eventually it will happen anyway. You can't stio evolution.

Erlyrisa wrote:
-Take the matrix example,, where the PC has taken over the world. The PC's next form of evolution should be to escape the confines of globule of rock called a planet. Then it becomes a 'hard ware less entity' and IS the singularity that is GOD.


I agree that this last phase of the Singularity is a bit mistifying, but it's still a lot of time from now, so i wouldn't give it much importance. We will have plenty of time to watch what the universe will become by ourselves.

Erlyrisa wrote:
-The case that we would let our own creation compete on the same playing field as our own evolution , just won't happen.


It's won't be exactly a competition, but a simbiosis. Even now, computers and humans have already a simbiotic relation, and this will be greatly intensified. Eventually, humanity and computers will merge. So, technically speaking, we won't be "competing".

Erlyrisa wrote:
eg. if I were a baseball player and my income was based on how well I played - why would I create a robot which would nullify my need to play baseball, which by the way I enjoy doing.


We have been doing this continuously for the past 300 years. Why shouldn't we continue?


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lau
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03 Mar 2007, 10:32 am

Sir_Sefirot wrote:
I'll have my own take on it, I hope you don't mind.
Chuckle... and why not, it's your thread!

Sir_Sefirot wrote:
I agree that this last phase of the Singularity is a bit mistifying, but it's still a lot of time from now, so i wouldn't give it much importance.
I disagree! Please? I want it now. (Or at least by the end of next week).

Sir_Sefirot wrote:
Eventually, humanity and computers will merge.
Eventually? I would have assumed you knew about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Warwick.



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03 Mar 2007, 10:43 pm

Chips in the head and the transition to being Borg....

Yes some people are stupid enough to have chips implanted in thier arms as permanent credit cards.... and it seems that enough of the western generations youth are stupid enough to go down that path (excluding me - I still don't use a credit card, even though I am supposed too, just so that I can get a credit rating)

-The thing is, anytime in history when the establishment has too much of a voice of the population, the population revolts.... It's why I am expecting a mass exodus or extinction of proportions of our 'one world' by the people that will refuse to go down the BORGified path.

There are Evolutionist beleifs out thier that disregard the evolution of the CPU....

In star Gate, the civilisation that could walk through walls, couldn't find a home planet... then carter found them the planet with does hippie mind reading body healing, make the birds invisible civilisation.... the two extremes couldn't be more imprtant... I highlights the fact that even with technology, we would rather use it to walk through walls 'ourselves' , or learn from the technology ,so that we as a species eveolve to the level our technology is at (the hippies that could hide stuff and heal)

We can already eveidence the biological evolution, by the way we learn 'on mass' as a society..... we are even leaving petri dish societies on the side.... africa, middle east, china .etc
-For example I see the europeans evolving the fastest to the mind healing sceanrio. The americas to the Escape the mind beholders (ESP etc), China as the computational power of the mind beholders, the british as the spawners of higher traits (ie the fastest growing amalgamet petri dish), the russians as the brute force beholders (power storage), africa the kinetic affluence beholders, middle east the last traditionalist beholders (a way to hold onto historic values and genes to keep the overall evolution at bay) Australia the secondary fall back America, NZ the secondary Australia Fall back... Tasmania a last resort.

We as a species may just out compete our inventions.... we just have to give ourselves a chance.



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04 Mar 2007, 7:58 am

I'm sorry Erlyrisa, but you are already partaking in the birth of what comes next. Not having an implant is just plain inconvenient.

Think - here you are, utilising a vast amount of technology to have conversations with people across the globe. And to do that... silly keyboards, trivial mice and a lumpy display. I want them all built in (to start with!). Much more convenient. I'll then be able to use my "extelligence" while swimming in the sea, eating my dinner or sleeping.

All Star Trek, SG1, etc do is tell (NT) "stories", based on their very limited imaginations. I don't stop there.

So far as Homo Sapiens is concerned, I used to be very protective of us, as a species, but I think I now see beyond that. What is important is not the physical paraphernalia we are using at the moment, but the real thing that makes a difference - our minds.

I have an analogy coming on... I picture us at the crest of a wave. We are about to part company with the wave and drift off in the air as specks of foam. I have no idea where I'll be going, but one thing I don't want is for me to miss out and get dragged back to the sea bed.