Monday, April 18, 2011

Vernor Vinge & the Technological Singularity (Audio, Review) "I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen by 2030"


The Singularity Cometh: "We will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended". (Vernor Vinge)

Vernor Vinge and the Technological Singularity Nikola Danaylov interviewed Vernor Vinge, who can rightly be called the Father of the Technological Singularity. Vinge thinks the technological singularity will occur no later than 2030. "I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen by 2030" (37:55 in audio below). "The technological singularity is the most likely scenario for the relatively near future". Vinge states, "In the relatively near future, humankind, by using technology, will either create or become creatures of superhuman intelligence". This type of change, a technological change, will be qualitatively different than technological changes in the past. The change will be so profound that what will happen is unknowable, hence a singularity and event horizon over which no information, actually speculation and prediction, can occur. This implies no limit to progress. However, he finds hope in this future world and not fear of the unknown. "Overall, we are in a situation where we can surpass the wildest dreams of optimism of previous generations."

Singularity Concept Timeline Vernor Vinge developed and honed the concept of the technological singularity in the 1980s and early 1990s. The culmination was a 1993 paper, a presentation at NASA and now a classic, "The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era". Vinge says that as the exponential increase in technology becomes more and more evident, especially compared to the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of the technological singularity will increasingly be part of the cultural fabric. "It fits more with what's going on. It becomes a steady drumbeat like background music, like background wallpaper, in how we look at things when it comes to progress. It is a way of looking at things, the world." He feels this concept is a model than can be run to interpret daily events. To keep a balanced view, Vinge also "runs a model" of the technological singularity not happening, as a contra-indicator and even has given a talk on this scenario. In retrospect, from the NASA essay in 1993 to the present, 2011, Vinge says there is little he would change in his paper.

Technological Singularity Paths Vinge watches paths to the singularity, and the developments in each as positive and negative indicators as to the overall progress towards the technological singularity. These paths are scenarios on how the singularity could occur. He lists 5 paths:
1) Artificial Intelligence scenario: humans create superhuman artificial intelligence in computers, machines become super-intelligent
2) Intelligence Amplification scenario: humans enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces, that is, humans achieve intelligence amplification, humans become super-intelligent
3) Biomedical Intelligence scenario: humans directly increase their intelligence by improving the neurological operations of their brains, humans become super-intelligent
4) Internet Intelligence scenario: humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being, humans and machines collectively become super-intelligent
5) Digital Gaia scenario: the network of embedded processors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being, machines collectively become super-intelligent
6) [Editor's Note: this leaves only one other possible scenario: humans collectively become super-intelligent?]

Digital Gaia: Reality Wakes Up Currently Vernor Vinge sees rapid progress in scenario #5, the Digital Gaia scenario. A collective network of microprocessors is "extraordinarily powerful". Vinge also calls this possibility "ensemble intelligence". He compares it to animism in the sense that physical objects "wake up" and "have a spirit of their own". Further, he says, "reality becomes its own database and reality wakes up" and their could be types of "mind" that don't think like humans.

Technological Singularity Criticisms Nikola Danaylov asks, is the technological singularity nothing more than a new religion, wrapped in 21st century culture and terminology? The technological singularity can be viewed as the Apocalypse (end of the human world) and/or the Rapture (deliverance from the human world). Have Adam and Eve been replaced with a computer? Is the technological singularity the same as the hope of human religions to overcome this physical world and death? Are adherents of the technological singularity no different than fundamentalists in world religions?

Technological Singularity Indicators Vinge responds to the criticisms, "I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen by 2030" (37:55 in audio below). "The technological singularity is the most likely scenario for the relatively near future". However, the reason the singularity wouldn't occur would most likely be that "we couldn't put all the parts together". Conversely, he says one of the strongest arguments for the singularity is Moore's Law. Failures of large software projects and coordination would stop the progress. Therefore, Vinge watches for "progress and non-progress in software engineering". With regards to Moore's Law, does software development keep the same pace as hardware development? Basically Vinge says that while the hardware may grow exponentially, it appears software is only linear growth. Therefore software development, software engineering is a key indicator for the progress towards the technological singularity. This progress is driven by money and "anything humans are doing, especially of an economic nature" can achieve gains through computer processing. However, he does try to envision technology leveling off short of the singularity which would mean humans could not achieve further progress.

Surviving the Technological Singularity Nikola Danaylov asks, what are the odds humans survive the singularity? That is, what is the fate of humanity beyond the singularity event horizon? He notes Ray Kurzweil is sometimes criticized for being too optimistic about humanity's fate after the technological singularity. He adds that others he has asked give low to very low survival rates for humans (2%-25%). Vernor Vinge responds that first, long-term survival of humans (as in millions of years) is "very unlikely", based on the history of species that are living or have lived on Earth. "I think the human race is going to grow into something better". Assuming the technological singularity happens, he thinks it is "very unlikely" that the human race would become extinct. Vinge even thinks there would still be a place for Homo Sapiens 1.0, that is, current un-augmented humans, even though the presumed Homo Sapiens 2.0 would possibly result from the technological singularity. He thinks original humans would be maintained as a backup in case of disaster.

Vernor Vinge on Singularity 1 on 1: We Can Surpass the Wildest Dreams of Optimism Nikola Danaylov interviews futurist Vernor Vinge on a variety of subjects including the technological singularity.

Click here for audio player and web page, if audio player is not appearing above

Technological Singularity: one scenario is that artificial, machine intelligence surpasses human, biological intelligence

About Vernor Vinge

Vernor Vinge is a retired San Diego State University professor of mathematics, a computer scientist, and an award-winning science fiction author. Vinge is a futurist who is known as the originator of the term "technological singularity" and his 1993 essay, "The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era" expounds on this concept. In the essay, he states, "Within thirty years we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended". He introduced the term "technological singularity" at an artificial intelligence conference at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1982 and later in a science fiction novel, "Marooned In Realtime" in 1986. Vinge has expanded on the themes of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and the technological singularity in his books and describes himself as a science fiction writer.

About Nikola Danaylov

Nikola Danaylov is founder of the Singularity Weblog which aims to "spark a conversation about the impact of technology, exponential growth, and artificial intelligence." Danaylov goes by the pseudonym "Socrates" and the weblog was started as "a personal journal of Socrates' thoughts on trends, news, issues, films, and people related to the technological singularity".

Visit Osprey Port News Network!
Apple, Google, Baidu, China, technology, financial system, stocks, markets, economy, science, environment, future

Follow Mountain Vision (@MountainVision) on Twitter!
Observations & thoughts by a sojourner through space & time...
Technological singularity, transhumanism, reality (objective, virtual, programmed, augmented), Universe, future.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Michio Kaku: UFOs Are Real (Video) "It's the 5% unidentified that give you the willies"


Chicago O'Hare International Airport: UFO 2007

95% Of UFO Sightings Can Be Identified Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC interviewed Dr. Michio Kaku about Leslie Kean's 2010 book, "UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record". Ratigan starts out asking, "Do Unidentified Flying Objects, without question, exist?". Kaku responds, "95% of UFO sightings can be immediately identified as the planet Venus, weather balloons, weather anomalies, swamp gas, you name it, we've got it nailed. It's the 5% that give you the willies. 5% remain totally unexplained. Regarding the witnesses to the spooky 5% unidentified, Kaku notes, "We're talking about generals, Air Force pilots, governors of states that claim, 'Hey, this is beyond our understanding of the laws of physics.'"

We Are Clueless Kaku continues, "We've looked at all the alternatives. These are multiple sightings by multiple modes. That is, pilots, eyewitnesses (on the ground), radar, visual sightings. These are very hard to dismiss, this handful of sightings. One over Alaska, one over Belgium, one over Iran. The handful of things that still cannot be explained defy the known laws of physics. Ratigan asks, "Does this confirm life on other planets?". Kaku replies, "I wouldn't go that far. We need alien DNA or an alien chip. That would nail it to the wall right there. We don't have that, we don't have the smoking gun. But this book (Leslie Kean's) is as close as you are going to get to the smoking gun. We're talking about senior military officials that were involved in the investigations of these incidents saying, 'We are clueless'".

Extraterrestrial? Extra-dimensional? Are the mysterious 5% of unexplainable and baffling UFO sightings from another world? Kaku speculates, "Those people assume that they (UFOs) may be 100 years ahead of us. In which case it is impossible for them to reach us. But, if they are a thousand, a million, years ahead of us, then new laws of physics begin to open up. So, we have to open our minds to the possibility that they are not just a super version of us, that they could be thousands, millions of years more advanced." Ratigan asks why haven't these begins contacted us formally? Kaku compares them to us as humans are to ants. "If they are that advances, maybe they are simply not that interested in us."

Dylan Ratigan Show: "Michio Kaku: UFOs Are Real" Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku discusses Leslie Kean's new book, "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record."

UFOs: Generals, Pilots, And Government Officials Go on the Record
By Leslie Kean

About Leslie Kean

Leslie Kean is an independent investigative journalist with a background in freelance writing and radio broadcasting. She has contributed articles to dozens of publications here and abroad including the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Providence Journal, International Herald Tribune, Globe and Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, The Nation, and The Journal for Scientific Exploration. Her stories have been syndicated through Knight Ridder/Tribune, Scripps-Howard, New York Times wire service, Pacific News Service, and the National Publishers Association. While spending many years reporting on Burma, she co-authored Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity (Aperture, 1994) and she has contributed essays for a number of anthologies published between 1998 and 2009. Her freelance journalism has been supported by grants from numerous foundations including the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation, The Fund for Investigative Journalism, and the Nation Institute.

About Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and popularizer of science. He’s the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He has appeared on television (Discovery, BBC, ABC, Science Channel, and CNN to name a few), written for popular science publications like Discover, Wired, and New Scientist, been featured in documentaries like Me & Isaac Newton, and hosted many of his own including BBC’s recent series on Time.

Visit Osprey Port News Network!
Apple, Google, Baidu, China, technology, financial system, stocks, markets, economy, science, environment, future

Follow Mountain Vision (@MountainVision) on Twitter!
Observations & thoughts by a sojourner through space & time...
Technological singularity, transhumanism, reality (objective, virtual, programmed, augmented), Universe, future.


Seeking Alpha