Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Singularity


               Singularity is a future period during which the pace of technological change 
               will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.
                                                                                   ― Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near

Originator

Vernor Vinge is a retired San Diego State University mathematics professor, computer scientist and science fiction author who I met locally. In his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity he predicted that the creation of superhuman artificial intelligence would mark the point beyond which no current models of reality are sufficient to predict what will happen. (1) He believes that shortly after the Singularity arrives the human era will be ended.

Vernor Vinge was the first to coin the phrase, “Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond human comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists. Some 20 years later, he remains firm on his views about the collapse of civilization after the Singularity.  In my opinion, this is more than a little tinged with his futuristic science fiction imagination. (2)

Principal Supporter

Ray Kurzweil’s is a distinguished MIT graduate, a prizewinning author and scientist who received the National Medal of Technology& Innovation in 1999. He has been inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame, has received 20 honorary doctorates, has been awarded honors from three U.S. presidents, and has authored 7 books (5 of them national bestsellers).

About 25 years ago, Ray Kurzweil changed his job description to "societal visionary". He became Director of Engineering of Google in 2012, saying that his sole job is to make computers as smart as humans, with natural language understanding.

Ray Kurzweil published two books that got me hooked on his futuristic thinking: The Age of Intelligent Machines (Oct. 1990); and The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. (Jan. 2000)

Ray Kurzweil’s 670-page tome, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology was published in 2011. (3) The book was a New York Times bestseller and has been #1 on Amazon in both science and philosophy. It portrays what life will be like after the Singularity – a human-machine civilization when human experiences shift from real to virtual reality. I got an advance copy at a conference where Ray Kurzweil was the keynote speaker, and have been carrying an e-copy around on my Kindle since.

Approaching Singularity


Ray Kurzweil offers a framework for envisioning the twenty-first century – an age in which the marriage of human sensitivity and artificial intelligence fundamentally alters and improves the way we live. Kurzweil's prophetic blueprint for the future takes us through the advances that inexorably result in computers exceeding the memory capacity and computational ability of the human brain by the year 2020 (with human-level capabilities not far behind); in relationships with automated personalities who will be our teachers, companions, and lovers; and in information fed straight into our brains along direct neural pathways. (4)

Here's what Ray Kurzweil expects:

"Within just a few decades, life as we know it will be completely different. Non-biological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then speed past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, with the ability of machines to share their knowledge instantly. By 2045, we'll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that un-enhanced human intelligence won't keep pace."

Ray Kurzweil’s movies, Singularity and Transcendent Man are different versions of the same idea. Ray discusses a hypothetical future paradise in which humans will become "more creative and more loving" by adding artificial intelligence to their brains.
Ray Kurzweil turned 68 this year (February 2016) and expects to live forever, with his intelligence downloaded to a machine. In the meantime, he is reprogramming his metabolism for extreme longevity by taking about 200 pills a day. He says, "I think I'll make it through to when I can at least back myself up."

 Time Cover Story

In Feb 2011 the cover of TIME magazine featured the headline: "2045 - The Year Man Becomes Immortal". The cover-story shows Ray Kurzweil in front of a theater showing his movie, and the article headlines the definition of Singularity: "The moment when technological change becomes so rapid and profound, it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history". (5)(6)

TIME's coverage of Ray Kurzweil came just a few days after USA Today interviewed him about the Jeopardy match between IBM's supercomputer Watson, which won against two of the game's human champions. The match was reminiscent of the historic chess win by IBM's Deep Blue against world chess-champion Garry Kasporov in 1997. Years before it happened, Kurzweil foretold that computers would defeat humans in chess

Possibilities

Will there be a Singularity? On one hand, it could potentially solve most human problems, even mortality. Unshackled by human limitations, advanced life could eventually do amazing things beyond our abilities. On the other hand, it could destroy life, as we know it. 

The Singularity could be the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity. Yet, largely, it is shrugged off. A common argument is that there is no scientific proof that any disaster scenarios will occur.  On the optimistic side, digital technologies will diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human. 

Some people think that the Singularity seems far-fetched. But, when I travel halfway across the globe with ivory-tower objectivity at 40,000 feet, I keep imagining how the world continues to accelerate through technology. I get a strange feeling that indeed some significant transition is inevitable. It won't be a smooth shift – more like an inflection point, a fairly rapid switch.

Transhuman

The interconnected, planet-wide web is already more complex than a human brain and has surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential intelligence. In 10 years, it will be a thousand times more powerful. (7) So, will super intelligence emerge on the Web? And, if it does, will it be manageable? Or, will it take charge and manage? Already, some are predicting transhuman and posthuman intelligence. Can anyone say with certainty that this cannot or will not happen?

At this stage, perhaps we can only just muse about these ideas. Before you shrug them off or completely dismiss them, please read Ray Kurweil's book – or maybe read the first couple of chapters on Amazon.com.

Whimsical

In any case, you might enjoy this song, a humorous Singularitarian version of Gilbert & Sullivan's I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General from the opera, The Pirates of Penzance.

Here's a sample of the lyrics. Below, you’ll find a link to a YouTube video version:  (8)

I am the very model of a Singularitarian
I'm combination Transhuman, Immortalist, Extropian,
Aggressively I'm changing all my body's biochemistry
Because my body's heritage is obsolete genetically,
I'll try to improve these patterns with optimal biology,
Expand my mental faculties by merging with technology

Economic Singularity

I was reminded of my attraction to and fascination with the concept of the Singularity when the financial guru John Mauldin, who writes remarkably well, brought it up recently in his Thoughts from the Frontline newsletter. (9)

John writes: The black hole is the point of no return – the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great that nothing can escape; conventional models no longer work.

John Mauldin is correct to draw a parallel between the technological singularity and the black hole that is being approached with the current global economic situation. An economic bubble of any type, but especially a debt bubble, can be thought of as an emergent black hole. When the bubble gets too big and then collapses in upon itself, it creates its own black hole with all traditional economic modeling breaks down.

Any economic theory that does not attempt to transcend the event horizon associated with excessive debt will be incapable of offering a viable solution to an economic crisis. Even worse, it is likely that any proposed solution will make the crisis more severe.

Clearly, there’s a significant parallel between the technological singularity, and the economic and financial black hole that has been developing in the world. Will the two singularities occur simultaneously? Or will one of them cause the other?

Takeover

Google’s autonomous cars have now logged thousands of miles on American highways.  In 2014, a vice-chairman of General Motors stated that self-driving cars should “hit the road soon” because they will be safer than vehicles driven by people. (10) So, humans won’t drive anymore – they’ll be driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

Clearly Governments and business could follow much the same pattern – using machine intelligence to go beyond human capabilities and eliminate human fallibility. How far will this develop until AI has the ability to take over?

By 2020 over 6 billion people will own smart-phones, about 70% of the world’s population. In fact, total mobile subscriptions (including Internet services) will actually number 9.2 billion by that time. Taking into account Internet-of-things and M2M services, mobile broadband and even some basic remaining feature phones, there will be 26 billion connected devices in five years’ time. This is an indication of just how dominant these devices are becoming with how people communicate with each other. (11)

Beyond just making phone calls, smartphones provide GPS directions (few use map-books anymore), keep track of appointments and contacts, take pictures, play music, mingle via social media, and look up everything on Google. Through the installation of apps, the list of possible smartphone uses multiplies by tens of thousands and keeps growing longer. (12)

In my view, the takeover process won’t be top-down (some dominant science-fiction-like giant), but steady bottom-up spread into the human psyche. Humans are already slaves.

Let’s Engage

Please answer the following questions. If you wish, you may share your own views via the blog. Or, send your responses to me and I’ll publish.

  1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life? Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?
  2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?
  3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major uses?
  4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?
  5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?
  6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using in 20 years?
  7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?
  8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?
  9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two. Or, a whole essay.
References

  1. Vernor Vinge on the Technological Singularity: https://goo.gl/45ARqf
  2. Vernor Vinge Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization: http://goo.gl/a3FfJE
  3. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology: http://goo.gl/omg8bd
  4. IEEE Special Report- The Singularity: http://goo.gl/zhkVrk
  5. TIME 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal: http://goo.gl/fLJzXu
  6. Robots about to rise - Google's new director of engineering: https://goo.gl/UDbRdK
  7. WIRED - We Are the Web: http://goo.gl/2zKhRo
  8. Youtube video – I am the very model of a Singularitarian: https://goo.gl/5l0ACx
  9. John Mauldin - The Economic Singularity: http://goo.gl/i3jY0u
  10. Self-driving cars safer than those driven by humans: http://goo.gl/W3ZBVC
  11. 6.1 billion Smartphone Users Globally By 2020: http://goo.gl/62Dp1r
  12. The Benefits of Smartphone Technology: http://goo.gl/zx8K8H

..ooOOoo..
Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA.
USA

22 comments:

  1. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    Yes I recognize technology has changed my life, but at the level it is right now I still see it as a tool I still see it as a hammer but I recognize that it is becoming a CNC machine. That make me a little uncomfortable.

    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?
    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major use

    Yes to everything, all for fun, entertainment and recreation!

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Paying will be by smartphone and most metal coins and notes with will be much reduced, only used by people who want to hide for one reason or another...

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    They will know more and access it quicker but not sure what you define as smarter. In terms of invention, they are not smarter but in terms of definable tasks, they are already smarter than half the population.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using
    Technology in 20 years?

    Yes, unless they embrace technology they will suffer economically.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    Creeping

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial
    collapse?

    I doubt it will have much effect. I can't see good or bad economics having any long term (10+ years) on the progress of the computer progress. The real scary part is if you make one iPhone smart, suddenly this is multiplied by 20,000,000. That is really terrifying.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    Yes
    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?
    Both

    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?

    By and large it is leading to making the necessities of life easier and safer. It is also attempting to make communication faster and better. I would argue that it is making it faster and worse. It is now far too simple to see only the views that correspond to your own. It is also drawing a barrier between communication of words and communication of emotion.

    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major uses?

    Yes and all uses. Tablet for the portability, but desktop for the easier keyboard style entry.

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    The phone portion of their use is now so minor that they should cease to be called smartphones. They are just another computing device in a different form factor.

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    Maybe better at rapid crunching of big data and crowd sourcing, but never as wise. So perhaps wisdom will be buried by smart.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using
    Technology in 20 years?

    I only hope it is not using him and her.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    It may come but then be crushed slowly by its lack of humanity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your last comment, "It will be crushed slowly by its lack of humanity" - is a key point. The Singularity will have be a takeover, with "humanity" just one of the priorities. There are many stories (science-fiction) which relate how it will work, some indicating decidedly non-human, or even in-human, characteristics. Lots of room for imagination regarding what will indeed happen.

      Delete
  3. The Singularity. Such a simple, clean, nice name for something that may never exist.

    The halls of humility are (or should be) littered with the failed corpses of fantastical predictions. So I'll add some of my own, no more (or less?) valid than Mr. Kurzweil's, at least in my singular mind.

    If there is a major even coming, I think it will look more like a very broad based (maybe worldwide) revolution against the forces that the "Singularity" idea espouses. I clearly remember being told, as a young lad, of the coming 21 hour workweek and unlimited entertainment that we'd all be enjoying .. 'soon'. At the time I thought that'd be just swell. Now I recognize it as a slow torture of imposed idleness.

    Google, Kurzweil's employer / accomplice already knows more about people's habits that is good for us. This just acknowledges that '1984' is happening - and it has largely already happened. Edward Snowden gave us a glimpse of some of the results of extreme power resting in a few manipulative hands. Faster connections and more data storage and analysis is not likely to bode well for Mr. and Mrs. average citizen, neither in the West or in the hitherto developing world. Engineered misinformation that drives power into the hands of the few is unavoidable. What could possible go wrong?!?

    My version of the "Singularity" is one where technology, misused by the proverbial 1% (more like 0.001% of course), triggers enough of the 'inspected' people to throw off the yoke of being a lab rat, and an enlightened populace reverses the roles. French Revolution #2.

    Ironically, the only thing that can save the masses is information - true information about the way power is used and abused. More "Panama Papers" but not just information on financial transactions - the world needs to know about the games that are being played by those who are trying to set up the ultimate ant farm. Once we're the ants, we won't even know who the ant masters are - they'll be living in their "Singularity" and the rest of us will be collecting scraps for the Queen.

    I hope it's not too late. But I do see a lot of ants running around like they're on top of the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your eloquent and insightful response!

      The key point about the Singularity is that it will "decide" on its own about what is good for humanity, and what is not. There are many science-fiction stories about Robotic intelligence takeover - deciding what is done based on logic versus human empathy and kindness.

      Delete
  4. Andres GorenburgMay 30, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?

    I do not allow technology to accelerate my life unless I want it to .

    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    I allow it when I feel it will solve a reasonable need that I cannot solve by any other actual way.

    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?

    No doubt , communications : mobile and messaging , socializing ; the fact that I can know from my relatives and friend no matter where they are is for me major advantage since I still remember and record what it meant for my family to contact relatives by expensive unreliable phone calls.

    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major uses?

    Tablet - Smartphone - notebook / desktop (maybe these only for special job applications )

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Maybe they will be able to solve health issues, control my food & water consumptions, predict potential problems . Find people in my surroundings that I may be compatible or share common interests....

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    Maybe computers will create computers , this is what I can imagine as farest ; I cannot believe computers being smarter than humans ; I play chess with my computer and it wins 100 match for each one I win ; does it means it is smarter?

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using
    Technology in 20 years?

    I have no grandchild but I cannot answer this unless repeating answer 4.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    No point on this.

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial
    collapse?
    9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two.
    Or, a whole essay.

    Singularity still sounds to me a science fiction.

    ReplyDelete
  5. From:
    Nation Alliance of Buggy Whip Manufacturers
    Office of the Executive Director
    Jack Grenard

    Dr. Jim Pinto:

    You must have reached the sacred level of doctor of philosophy because of your many awards and your display of brilliance in the technological world. Instead of asking me to answer your list of questions, I wish we readers could have your inputs. Nonetheless:

    1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    Frankly, I’m disgusted with the rapid and seemingly daily changes in technology. Now they’re talking about driverless carriages. Crazy! Sounds like a race between drunken horses. Some of these carriages claim speeds of up to forty miles per hour. Who’d want to go that fast? Consider the increased danger at that high speed. Excite me? Makes me so uncomfortable that I just want to hide out in the nearest saloon.


    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?

    Technology is heading over a cliff in a hand-basket. We don’t need more of these dangfangled motor carriages unless we need to decrease our populations. The question is not, Is anything sacred? but, Is anything that moves at forty mph safe? How could it be?


    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major uses?

    I work at my desk seven days a week. Tablet? Didn’t they go out with Nebucanezzar? My friend Alex Bell claims to have developed some gadget called a telephone, but I can’t imagine its use or functions. I’m happy with the speed and reliability of Mr. Morse’s code.


    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Well, they sure as hell won’t drive horseless carriages.


    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    I leave computers to science labs. How could a machine possibly get smarter than a human, even my brother Harold, who never got out of sixth grade?


    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using Technology in 20 years?

    Thankfully, I have no grandchildren (that I know about). If I did, maybe he or she could invent a better buggy whip for my company, but not using that new material called fiberglass. Glass is brittle, and whips have to bend.


    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    For centuries supposedly scientific souls like you have predicted the coming soon of a disastrous event that will wreck this world. Hasn’t happened, and it won’t. (Although, there’s a kid in New York by the name of Donald Trump, who, when he grows up, might bring it off.)


    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?

    Who is predicting a financial collapse? Stick with buggy whips and you’ll be safe and well off, ready to meet the 20th century.


    9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two. Or, a whole essay.

    I just did. Got to go out now and shovel the driveway. Yes, I know it’s still May.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jack :

      Your quaint comments are published. Because of the questionable content, I had to confirm with our board-of-directors (which includes 11 smartphones, 2 tablets and one venerable laptop PC) that this was acceptable. They have reluctantly agreed to allow your weird and whimsical responses to be recorded, to allow review by future generations of intelligent beings.

      Best wishes:

      Jim Pinto
      Minion of the Board

      Delete
  6. Jim--often say of myself that I've been living at the intersection of technology and humanity for almost 70 years now. Collisions are fairly regular and often spectacular. I've thought about you questions. Here's my answer.

    In my experience whenever we've been thinking about what might happen, it turns out, years later, that it had already happened. We were just starting to sense it.

    It's already happened.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jim, I've been thinking about your question. Often say of myself that I've been living at the intersection of technology and humanity for almost 70 years now. Collisions are regular and sometimes spectacular.

    I've developed a rule: Whenever we are thinking about what might happen, it turns out years later that it had already happened. We were just starting to sense it.

    It's already happened.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    >> Sure

    Does it excite you?
    >>No more than building a good web page.

    Or does it make you uncomfortable?
    >> More and better tools to use

    2. Where do you think technology is leading?
    >> More and more complex, repairs become impossible, higher costs to keep up

    Has it changed your own life?
    >> Made some things easier, made others possible

    3. Do you use a desktop?
    >> YES

    Tablet?
    >>No

    Smartphone?
    >>YES

    What are your major uses?
    >> Information input, support 5 web pages, engineering calculations.

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?
    >> Added capability, medical information data.

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans?
    >>Absolutely not.

    When?
    >> Never can be "smarter" than the exceptional human. Confusing fast addition with intelligence is wrong.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today?
    >> Of Course

    How will he/she be using Technology in 20 years?
    >> Who knows? Once a slide rule was high tech.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving?
    >> No

    Or will it come creeping?
    >> It is coming, the declaration will come from the totally confused media, not from the thinkers.

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?
    >> The "singularity" is a media thing, for the un-knowing, the financial mess is a product of government meddling and corruption, different things, probably not related.

    9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two.
    >> I do not fear the robots, I do not fear the programmers, but I greatly fear their management. It is very easy to write code which looks nice but behaves badly. No machine can do what it is not told to do.

    Computers hold data, and they can compare, and calculate, they cannot imagine. A clever programmer can make it look like a computer is "smart" he cannot make it smart. From the very beginning of humans, a few precious and rare gifted persons have bit by bit discovered all that we know.

    There is a huge intellectual distance between using a piece of wire like string to hold papers together and bending it into a paper clip. It will take a very clever programmer to create a program which can do that.

    I seriously dislike a program which "adapts" to my recent use. I seriously dislike a store or a program telling me what to purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life? Yes
    Does it excite you? Yes
    Or does it make you uncomfortable? Yes

    2. Where do you think technology is leading?
    To a rapidly changing way of life.

    Has it changed your own life?
    Yes.

    3. Do you use a desktop?
    No

    Tablet?
    Yes

    Smartphone?
    Yes

    What are your major uses?
    My entire life, schedule, etc. are on my phone & tablet.

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?
    I don't have enough imagination to provide a reasonable answer.

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans?
    Yes.

    When?
    Unknown at this time but with Deep Learning, the process has begun.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today?
    Yes

    How will he/she be using Technology in 20 years?
    Yes. I don't have enough imagination to provide a reasonable answer.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?
    I think it will come slowly and most people will not recognize it.
    Once it's foundation is in multiple places, it will come quickly.

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?
    Don't know, don't think there is a connection between the two conditions.

    9. Please share your own comments.

    With the agricultural revolution change came about every century.
    With the first 3 Industrial Revolutions (1770-1840 [steam &
    mechanical], 1840-1940 ]electrical & electrification], 1940-1985
    [Computers], change came about every 15 years.
    With the 4th Industrial Revolution (1985-Present [AI, Nanotechnology,
    Synthetic Biology, Meta Materials, 3D Printing, etc.]) change seems
    to be coming about every 9-12 months.
    By 2045, change may be coming every month.

    I see the coming of robotics, automation & AI replacing existing workers
    (Foxconn's laying off 60,000 workers in China this past week) and with
    Robots now being used to build robots (CNN recent report) I anticipate
    that the basic rules of how our society operates will change in a
    significant way. I don't know the details of the changes but I do expect
    they will be such as to alter present society in a major way.
    With IBM's Watson-like systems (ROSS for the legal world) I see present
    days 'white collar' professions being altered in the same way the steam
    shovels displaced labors with shovels.

    "IF", you figure out how all of this will be resolved - please share
    with me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have no problems with intelligence, whether it be carbon-based or
    silicon-based. It is how intelligence is applied that I'm concerned
    about. The reason why singularity has the potential to become very
    sinister is because it is primarily being applied to defense purposes.
    If this continues, artificial intelligence will become a major a threat
    to humanity. You can see these trends when you look at the increasing
    use of drones to conduct military warfare. Unfortunately, these trends
    appear to be accelerating. Technology is De-personalizing warfare.
    Warfare is now the equivalent of playing a video game. Risks are
    minimized. You no longer have to get your hands bloody or see up-front
    and personal the carnage you caused. The bad news is that it won't be
    long before our current enemies also have this technology. Once that
    occurs, we will curse the day when we started down this road.

    With regards to the financial realms, I do see exponential trends
    occurring. They are mostly the result of Fed policies (QE, NIRP, NIRP,
    etc.) and the result of the exponential increase in money supply and
    debt. Technology and the internet are having a role in these
    exponential rises. Their main contribution is that they increase the
    speed at which future events will occur. They will probably also prove
    to be our eventual salvation since they will encourage collaboration and
    sharing of ideas to solve the problems that we encounter in the future.

    There has already been an exponential rise in the stock market, the bond
    market and in real estate. Higher highs might occur. However, it
    appears that the upward trends in these assets are running out of gas
    and momentum is slowing. Like a cannon ball that is shot straight up in
    the air, once the upward momentum stalls its' decent is is not a gradual
    process! Computer selling will only accelerate the crash and push it
    into the other direction more profoundly. New financial inventions such
    as derivatives will cause the financial devastation to even be more
    devastating. This will probably cause most of the major banks,
    insurance companies, non-financial companies, pension plans, brokerage
    houses, federal governments, state governments and local governments to
    go bankrupt. Credit will freeze up and credit and debit transactions
    will halt. When this occurs we could be going from a period similar to
    the Resonance to a period resembling the Dark Ages. You can see
    governments around the world getting ready for this financial collapse
    with their passage of bail in laws the trends towards eliminating cash
    transactions. What is sad is that most people don't even have a clue as
    to what is about to occur. They just know that something is really
    wrong and hope their choice for president will make everything better
    again.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Continued from previous comment .......

    What is really scary is that most of the worlds population live in
    cities rather than in rural areas. If you live in places like San
    Diego, you probably don't even have a yard to put a chicken coup or a
    vegetable garden on. Starvation, unrest and revolution are likely
    outcomes. I would not doubt that the Pentagon war-rooms already have
    contingency plans for this possibility.

    How the above-mentioned financial events will affect singularity of
    artificial intelligence is hard to say. Getting funding for any type of
    research will probably become very difficult. Silicon Valley's golden
    years are numbered. In the future, survival and worrying about
    essentials will be people's most pressing problems.

    In the past, major financial disruptions have often been followed by
    wars. If this occurs, and we could have another world war on our
    hands. A number of people in the defense department, state department
    and the current administration are already saber rattling with regards
    to Russia and China. If some of these people get their wish, we could
    be headed for a very dark age indeed. I hope our new batch of
    politicians realize the risk. Unfortunately, the current candidates for
    President and many members of our Congress don't give me much hope.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kurzweil’s singularity is a bit of a misnomer. People seem to forget that he’s using semi-log scales which can make adoption and performance trends look predictable and precise, when they’re not.

    That said, assuming a convergence of events occurs, there are two ways of dealing with it. One of them, is that it will be mostly good. It is like describing the horseless carriage to someone in the mid-1700s. It seems like a good thing except for issues of fuel, pollution, and a lack of passable roads. The ideas don’t always scale up as nicely as we’d like to think.

    The other way of looking at this convergence is dystopian. It will be abused. It will be used to facilitate wars and evil the sorts of which we have difficulty imagining right now.

    That’s why adoption of this singularity will be uneven, and very stressful.

    By the way, that’s exactly what happened during the last singularity. What’s that, you say? You don’t recognize it? It was World War II.

    I predict this singularity will be based upon information and the collapse of centrally managed economic systems. The war of information will be run by virtual cyborgs, barely human entities, with brutal Darwinist ruthlessness. The average person would do well to keep their heads down and keep a low profile. Scavenging technologies for small entities and keeping a low profile is actually beneficial while the big entities fight things out. There will be engineered biological agents and threats that will wipe out entire populations. There will be ways of recording entities so that even biological death won’t kill a person. Data destruction will. There will be battles on many levels across international boundaries.

    And the battle ground will start on a medium that was originally designed to be resilient enough to avoid war: The Internet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jake:

      Wow ! I am very impressed and motivate by your realistic view of the Singularity.

      You have brought up some very realistic scenarios about how the new exponential changes will affect humanity. Present-day humanity struggles with local petty politics, seemingly unable to cope with the real, serious world problems: poverty; deteriorating environment; narrow, sectarian wars which destroy society through small, local, very effective, religious terrorism. Future wars will clearly be cyber-based, and remote-control drone based. And that perhaps will be the "Singularity" of World War 3 - which will certainly be an "inflection point" in human history.

      I appreciate your significant contribution to this blog.

      Delete
  13. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?

    Yes, of course. When I was in my 20s we struggled to avoid going into a second 4K core memory stack (yes, 4,000 bytes!), and now we’re talking petabytes and zettabytes – all in my lifetime – and it ain’t even over yet!

    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    Both exciting and increasingly disconcerting – especially based on this article!

    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?

    Technology has irreversibly changed EVERYONE’S life in both good ways and bad ways. I think the breakdown in human-to-human communication is not a good thing, but the exponential increase in communications of all types is a monumentally good thing. IMO, it is communications – and the corresponding enlightenment (education, if you prefer) – is the #1 factor that tears down barriers, whether cultural, financial, political, etc., and brings humanity closer together.

    3. Do you use a desktop? No. Tablet? Yes. Smartphone? Yes.

    What are your major uses? Almost every aspect of my daily life, in one way or another!

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    It’s hard to imagine how they could become more feature-rich and more indispensable – but I’m sure they will! I’m guessing a lot more physiological and maybe even psychological monitoring and analysis apps.

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    I think they probably already are as far as pure ‘smarts’ goes. Emotion and the ability to reason are the last frontiers, but those are psychological boundaries – not intellectual or intelligence boundaries.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using in 20 years?

    N/A

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    Probably sudden and not a planned or projected point in time. I think we’ll just wake up one morning, look around, and say Holy Sh#t – it’s here!!

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?

    I don’t ‘expect’ a “world financial collapse” so I have no answer for this…

    9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two. Or, a whole essay.

    My comments here are about as much as I can say about a topic that I am FAR from being an expert in. I’ll leave predicting the future to you and other futurists.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Let me also offer a YouTube video link that provides a glimpse into what the future of automotive manufacturing looks like... except that it isn't really the future -- it's NOW!
    http://www.youtube.com/embed/8_lfxPI5ObM?rel=0

    ReplyDelete
  15. Arthur B. ShostakJune 7, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    It is ubiquitous? Does it excite you?

    Yes, as it resembles magic.

    Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    Yes, but not fearful.

    2. Where do you think technology is leading?

    Forward, by and large, though with its own natural risks.
    Has it changed your own life?

    And those of all beings - now and forever.

    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone?

    All of the above - though, alas, not with expertise.

    What are your major uses?

    Conventional ones.

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Close to our sci-fi imagination

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans?

    Yes, but will not have ethics, empathy, or imagination - as these are unique to homo sapient biology.

    When?

    By circa 2050
    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today?

    But of course.

    How will he/she be using Technology in 20 years?

    Wonderously.

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving? Or will it come creeping?

    On cat's paws

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?

    No - requires a backdrop of global well-being.

    9. Please share your own comments.

    Please share the cumulative results of this survey - and do conduct many others.

    ReplyDelete
  16. 1. Do you recognize technology acceleration in your own life?
    Does it excite you? Or does it make you uncomfortable?

    Technology acceleration excites me. Having said that, proper regulations and ethical constrains must be established with a sense of urgency. We must insure that these explosive advancements are deployed with the best interests of mankind guaranteed.

    2. Where do you think technology is leading? Has it changed your own life?

    As they struggle to find their career path, the question I ask my grandchildren is this: What professions can/will never be replaced or diminished by AI and/or smart robots? Example, consider Watson: For a set of medical symptoms, Watson can choose in milliseconds, the medical procedure that will result in the best outcome for the patient based on a cloud of millions of procedures coupled with the quality of their actual outcomes. Now connect Watson to the de Vinci surgical robot. It would be able to execute surgical procedures more precisely than the best human surgical experts. It would be able to handle exceptions and emergencies faster and better than any human. Surgical procedures would be provided from a cloud of instructions that, with content additions and deep learning technology, would grow and become more comprehensive and effective over time. This is an example of where my hypothetical machine could replace a specialized skill requiring exceptional education and experience.

    With CRSPR/Cas9 we are now able to edit genes. As we discover the purpose and function of each gene, we will be able to cure genic disorders that have plagued us since the birth of mankind. At some point, we will be able to modify genic defects before birth. They have modified a gene in the common table mushroom resulting in a mushroom that does not turn brown and slimy over time. The Chinese have modified the genic properties of a human embryo. If the embryo was allowed to grow full term, to an adult human, the modified properties would be propagated through subsequent child births. This is scary! This, again, raises the urgent need for regulation and ethical oversight. These technologies will be reading our MRIs, performing surgeries requiring micron level accuracies, performing gene editing to cure genic disorders and child birth disabilities, driving our cars and controlling all of our modes of public transportation including flying our planes.
    The Northrop Grumman X-47B drone (UCAV) is capable of semi-autonomous control. It can diagnose on-board failures and take mitigating actions. It can land on an aircraft carrier without human intervention!

    3. Do you use a desktop? Tablet? Smartphone? What are your major uses?

    I use a desktop computer, a laptop computer, an iPad and a Galaxy Note4 phone. I use them for communications through Voice, Email and text messaging. I maintain an in house server that networks all my LAN enabled devices within the house. This includes my Nest thermostat, pool equipment, home automation, Denon entertainment center, several Wi-Fi connected printers, Desktop and Laptop computers, my mobile
    devices and a router that connects to cable based Internet through a cable MODEM.

    I use the Microsoft Office products for word processing and spreadsheet work and use GOOGLE extensively for all manner of research. I often use voice input with my iPad and Samsung Galaxy phone. I use RocSim on a Laptop for hobby rocketry modeling.

    Continued Below .....

    ReplyDelete
  17. Continued ......

    4. What do YOU think smartphones will do in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Short term, smartphones will continue to integrate apps for healthy lifestyle and medical monitoring. Improved processing power and voice recognition will allow for ease of information access. Video resolution and sound quality will obviously improve over time and the compute power will continue to expand with Moore’s law.

    Longer term, I would hope that battery life will no longer be a smartphone constraint. Small fuel cells might provide lifetime power that exceeds the smartphones MTBF. You will be purchasing a phone that no longer needs recharging and will last until something else fails. This will apply to other mobile devices like the iPad and laptop computers.

    Long term, I could imagine facilities that would allow for
    electro-physical connection to the cloud world. Our human biological system employs an electro-chemical communication network that will be integrated with the physical world; maybe through a surgical procedure. This will allow our cognitive processes to be augmented with outside cloud access and computational services in a client-server type connection. We could live in a world that markets future Watson level intelligence to human subscribers. No I’m not smoking dope!

    5. Will computers be smarter than humans? When?

    Yes and soon. I remember when 1.2 micron CMOS was bleeding edge technology in the mid-80s. Smaller geometries were constrained by visible light spectrum and photo lithography technology. With advances in process and lithography technology, we can now yield Nano-meter devices that are faster, smaller and consume less power. The next major step will be in architecture. Progress on device technology has been amazing, however we are still constrained by the Von Neumann architecture. As we move to poly-state, neural network architectures that mimic the human brain, we will be capable of processing images and audio in real-time, allowing our machines to come closer to human capabilities. It’s interesting to note that with our fastest devices, we are currently unable to replicate the processing of a common house fly’s brain. The house fly can navigate over relatively long distance flying up to 4.5 MPH, land on a pin head and react to a fly swatter in milliseconds. The common honey bee is even more amazing able to navigate over 4 miles and weighing only a few hundred milligrams. I believe computers will be able to function at human levels within two decades.

    6. Is your grandchild using smart gadgets today? How will he/she be using Technology in 20 years?

    My granddaughter is a chronic user of iPads and smartphones. I bought her a PC when she was very young. And as I hoped, she became very comfortable with the technology. I would be more concerned about her employment long term. We obsess about companies that use off shore
    labor, displacing our domestic manufacturing with the resulting loos of jobs. We aren’t paying sufficient attention to labor displacement from automation. When advance technologies start making significant inroads into white collar jobs, it may be too late. He who owns the machines, owns the world. The pervasive deployment of future technology that replaces large swaths of professional jobs will require a fundamental rethinking of our labor markets and how people are employed and
    compensated.

    Continued Below .....

    ReplyDelete
  18. Continued .....

    7. Do you see a sudden Singularity arriving?
    Or will it come creeping?

    From my limited understanding of the Singularity, I believe it is already appearing in subtle forms. We are seeing amazing progress in deep learning technology’s ability to perform image recognition at the level of a human infant. Machines are already able to recursively improve themselves. We have robots that have the ability to maintain and repair themselves. 3D printers are even able to produce replacement parts. Note: I just purchased Kurzweil’s book; “The Singularity is Near.” Thanks for the suggestion.

    8. Could the Singularity be triggered via the expected world financial collapse?

    Excellent question! I am too ignorant regarding economic dynamics. However, I am concerned that the opposite might occur: Namely, the singularity, without regulation and ethical controls, will cause a global financial collapse. The engine of our prosperity and growth is the middle class consumer. The production/consumption balance will be upended when the purchasing power of our middle class is destroyed. When their jobs are taken over by machines that are smarter, faster and
    cheaper. Do we end up having the capacity to efficiently build
    inventory without a gainfully employed population to consume.

    9. Please share your own comments. Write a sentence or two.
    Or, a whole essay.

    We are living in an exciting time. Advanced technologies are having a more profound impact on our lives than ever before. The pace is breathtaking. We need to take appropriate measures to ensure our country and way of life will continue to grow and prosper and that we use these marvelous inventions to make everyone’s lives better.

    ReplyDelete