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Old 07-17-2012, 03:40 PM
 
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The Law of Accelerating Returns | KurzweilAI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Kurzweil
An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.



You will get $40 trillion just by reading this essay and understanding what it says. For complete details, see below. (It’s true that authors will do just about anything to keep your attention, but I’m serious about this statement. Until I return to a further explanation, however, do read the first sentence of this paragraph carefully.)


Now back to the future: it’s widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected the future to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past. Although exponential trends did exist a thousand years ago, they were at that very early stage where an exponential trend is so flat that it looks like no trend at all. So their lack of expectations was largely fulfilled. Today, in accordance with the common wisdom, everyone expects continuous technological progress and the social repercussions that follow. But the future will be far more surprising than most observers realize: few have truly internalized the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating.

There have been numerous observations like these in the past couple decades, but why are the vast majority of well-educated and productive people still completely oblivious of what many humanists and philanthropists deem as the "technological singularity" within the next twenty, maybe thirty years?

Rant: Whether you agree with the premise or not, it still seems very lonely to be a transhumanist in the present day in what seems to be a vast sea of entertainment-obsessed, materialistic, and narcissistic culture. The collective human potential seems amazing, but our culture doesn't seem to concern itself by what can be, but rather by the current forms of incentive (wealth, entertainment, image).

Last edited by aspiring_natural; 07-17-2012 at 05:08 PM..
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:43 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,008 posts, read 10,992,557 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aspiring_natural View Post
The Law of Accelerating Returns | KurzweilAI




There have been numerous observations like these in the past couple decades, but why are the vast majority of well-educated and productive people still completely oblivious of what many humanists and philanthropists deem as the "technological singularity" within the next twenty, maybe thirty years?

Rant: Whether you agree with the premise or not, it still seems very lonely to be a transhumanist in the present day in what seems to be a vast sea of entertainment-obsessed, materialistic, and narcissistic culture. The collective human potential seems amazing, but our culture doesn't seem to concern itself by what can be, but rather by the current forms of incentive (wealth, entertainment, image).
A lot of well educated and productive people are wrapped up in their little worlds. Increasing specialization has created niche specialists, and when they get down in the weeds of something, it's very very hard to climb back out and link it to the world as a whole, or at best, it colors their perception of the world. Hence they seem oblivious of the world because of their perception.

Also, I would posit that people have gotten used to change. They expect it. So basically they are oblivious to the singularity because they just expect the future to be different and don't really stop to think about it. In other words they are numb to it.

I personally have a hard time believing that a singularity exists because singularities imply infinity. Infinity does not exist in our universe except as an abstract concept for conveying something that is similarly abstract (e.g. pi = 3.14159... and on and on to infinity). And there's also a nasty little habit of nature foiling our "infinity" (good) or "doomsday" (bad) predictions. Then there's also the question of the ability of humanity to absorb said knowledge and apply it to increase the feedback loop.

Finally, and this is just my gut speaking ... saying that past returns guarantees future performance just doesn't work. At best it'll be uneven.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:02 PM
 
127 posts, read 179,779 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eskercurve View Post
I personally have a hard time believing that a singularity exists because singularities imply infinity. Infinity does not exist in our universe except as an abstract concept for conveying something that is similarly abstract (e.g. pi = 3.14159... and on and on to infinity). And there's also a nasty little habit of nature foiling our "infinity" (good) or "doomsday" (bad) predictions. Then there's also the question of the ability of humanity to absorb said knowledge and apply it to increase the feedback loop.
My apologies about that. The original intention when I mentioned the technological singularity was not the "singularity" itself, but the copious abundance and wonders that are experienced on the path towards it. Basically, a condition where we enter a post-scarcity society (and that, Ray has shown us with plausible - albeit mathematical - models) is at most only a few decades off at this rate. Beyond that, we can't even fathom what the human experience will be like, but it's my belief that we should embrace it with a healthy sense of optimism. To do otherwise would be counterproductive, in my opinion

Last edited by aspiring_natural; 07-17-2012 at 09:17 PM..
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:34 AM
 
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Technological advance is perhaps the only ideal I subscribe to. Personally, there are a lot of things I think we should aspire to. The most important of which is getting off this planet. Humanity will be doomed to fail if we remain on one rock...we should expand. Terra-forming of other planets is theoretically possible, though, even with the exponential nature of technological afvance, I doubt it's something that is accomplished within the next centuary.

Immortality, or rather, conscious transfer to a "more permanent" body is also intriguing. Personally, not for me, though. I want to die eventually lol

Beyond that, self sustainability doesn't seem too far off, due to the advance of technology, as Ray has shown. I'm more interested in how this affects things socially. It's hard to fathom an existence where people don't have to do any work. What will happen to how we govern ourselves? How will the natural powers be redistributed? It'll be interesting for sure..I'm glad I get to live in this time. I get a front row seat to a very interesting show.

I do think, though, that a sense of optimism should color our perception of possible futures. If humanity has shown anything historically, it's that we refuse to quit.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:10 AM
 
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I've been interested in this topic for years, and many people seem completely oblivious of just how vastly different the future of work, and gov't, and economies and how they all interact will be. It is possible we will enter a post-work world, and economies based on work will have to change or fall. Advances in AI, robotics and automation, and efficiencies are going to lead to tremendous numbers of people being unemployed. And how will gov'ts cope with that? How will the companies using the technologies that led to higher unemployment sell those products in such economies? It's going to be very interesting to see how this pans out.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:48 AM
 
31,372 posts, read 32,741,456 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dub dub II View Post
The most important of which is getting off this planet. Humanity will be doomed to fail if we remain on one rock...we should expand. Terra-forming of other planets is theoretically possible, though, even with the exponential nature of technological afvance, I doubt it's something that is accomplished within the next centuary.
I'm as much a fan of science fiction as the next person (particularly in the Star Trek vein) but I am also grounded in the realty of science. You may be able to "tera form" a few neighboring planets but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable since along with exporting flora and fauna you are exporting the same base aspects of this culture. So, before transforming another planet I would prefer to work on transforming human culture as it exist today into something worth sustaining in the future.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:58 AM
 
Location: San Diego California
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We have a culture that values technology and puts almost no value on philosophy. The great philosophers of the past struggled not only with what man was capable of doing, but the moral and ethical questions of how those capabilities affected man’s humanity and spirit.
We have seen a technology driven collapse in morality in the past 50 years that is deeply disturbing.
Today people concern themselves little with questions of right and wrong and instead calculate the odds of being able to get away with misdeeds.
The time people used to use reading great literature and contemplating questions of values and morality is now consumed by technology which more often than not programs the user on how to think or what is acceptable behavior.
In only a few short decades we have replaced the values of Rudyard Kipling with the values of Bevis and Butthead.
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Old 08-10-2012, 04:21 PM
 
28,905 posts, read 47,655,782 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aspiring_natural View Post
The Law of Accelerating Returns | KurzweilAI




There have been numerous observations like these in the past couple decades, but why are the vast majority of well-educated and productive people still completely oblivious of what many humanists and philanthropists deem as the "technological singularity" within the next twenty, maybe thirty years?

Rant: Whether you agree with the premise or not, it still seems very lonely to be a transhumanist in the present day in what seems to be a vast sea of entertainment-obsessed, materialistic, and narcissistic culture. The collective human potential seems amazing, but our culture doesn't seem to concern itself by what can be, but rather by the current forms of incentive (wealth, entertainment, image).
Relax. Curmudgeons have been saying this nonsense for millennia. By saying it, you seem to subscribe to the belief that our forebears sat around in parlors and discussing Schopenhauer. The truth? Not only was the rabble more unwashed and more shallow than they are now, but they constituted a greater percentage of the world's population. Actually, if you think about it, the only people who mattered in 1912 were almost all white, male, propertied, and with money.

As far as incentive is concerned, what's so wrong with it? The promise of fantastic wealth spurred the colonization of the New World, not some abstract ideal. In fact, I'll go one further. Because NASA has completely lacked any kind of incentive, we have essentially marched in step when it comes to putting mankind in space. Sure we have a space station and we just landed Curiosity on Mars. But the entire ossifying effect of bureaucracy has likely slowed things down, so human progress was stuck in a morass of budget committees, turf battles, and election year politics. Put exploration in the hands of a Richard Branson or someone of his ilk, and you bet your bottom dollar that there will be significant progress in this arena in the next few years.

In fact, I would argue that it's a pretty exciting time to be alive, and people are transmitting information, exchanging ideas, and changing the world at a blistering rate that was unheard of 30 years ago. Think about this for a second. The entire destruction of traditional distribution channels for media, science, politics, commerce, and everything else under the sun has been shattered. The centralized, tightly controlled avenues are falling apart before our eyes and the flow of information is now extraordinarily free. It's kind of fun to watch the Chinese leadership put a lid on it. Of course, they won't be able to.

What's more, I'd contend that the so-called intellectual leadership of a society are typically the very last to understand what's going on in the world. After all academics languish, for the most part, in splendid isolation. People in political power are debating last decades issues. And that's not a bad thing.

For if you subscribe to complexity theory, one realizes that society shouldn't set down stultifying rules in anticipation of future events, i.e., what might happen. Instead, the ebb and flow of discovery as one new concept after another is introduced will define what the rules should be. And that's a good thing. After all in every great leap of civilization -- from the Renaissance to the Scientific Revolution to the spread of self determination across the globe, there has been an obsession with the rules, an obsession that always got in the way. That's why the church squashed Galileo.
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