Flutterby™! : Come the Singularity

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Come the Singularity

2009-03-16 13:23:30.190704+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Some musings on "Sex and the Singularity" over at ErosBlog does a little bit of musing on the Kurzweil-ian notion of "the singularity", that point when computers and augmented reality will become "powerful" enough that virtual realities and the physical one will become indistinguishable.

Normally such things fly under my radar, but this one gave me a great feeling of 1950s Popular Science, the ones about the future consisting of robot butlers and flying cars with wings: The thing those Utopian prognistications always missed was "why do the robots need us?".

I don't mean "us" as in humanity, we've evolved to be symbiotes with technology and will continue to do so, I mean what will happen that the fundamental struggles of life change to offer up this life of being waited on by the machines? And that's not intended to be some sort of "life is pointless" moan, just a realization that we are, largely, duking it out with limited resources, and though some of these technological advances will give us enough of an edge to offer up a time of relative prosperity, the overall game isn't changing: If you were digging ditches before the backhoe, don't expect to be sipping martinis afterwards.

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Robotics Economics ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2009-03-16 16:16:29.639008+00 by: ebradway

IEEE Spectrum did a great special issue on The Singularity last Summer. Kurzweil et al continue to over estimate the capabilities of computers based on binary logic and underestimate how important having a body in a messy world is on consciousness.

This is understandbly so since this connection between 'being in the world' and 'dasein' - the state of being that includes self-consciousness has really only been understood, philosophically, since the mid 1900s. And unfortunately, the leading thinker in this field was an Nazi - and largely discounted for much of the latter part of the 20th century during the early development of artificial intelligence. The effect of the popular notion of AI was so strong that psychology took to attempting to model human thought patterns after computer programs!

I love watching old Star Trek shows and listening to the computer. Blink lights and a mechanical sounding voice - but imbued with AI! We have much better interfaces and much better voice synthesis but are no where near artificial consciousness. Ditto for Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Mike, the computer, seemed about as powerful as the cell phone in my pocket but managed to exhibit self-awareness.