# A challenge to civilization

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Pine_net, May 21, 2002.

1. ### Pine_netChaos ProductRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
485
VISIONARIES SEE THE PROMISE
AND THE NIGHTMARE OF NANOTECH
By Jack Mason
Small Times Correspondent

May 21, 2002 -

NEW YORK – Nanotechnology and MEMS will follow the same exponential growth pattern that has accelerated the power of computing chips, digital storage and the cost of DNA sequencing, said Ray Kurzweil, inventor and author of "The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence."
Kurzweil, breakfast keynote speaker at the NanoBusiness Spring 2002 conference, outlined his view of how the world is speeding toward an intimate melding of man and micromachine through small tech enabled neural implants and nanobots.

His mathematical models predict that by 2029, "nonbiological intelligence" costing about $1,000 in current dollars will have the computing power of a thousand human brains. Moreover, these 3-D, molecular computers will operate far faster and share data much more rapidly than human organs ever could. Another Kurzweil scenario suggests that the accelerating advance of small tech will lead to human life expectancy increasing a year, every year. Kurzweil's morning remarks, "Exponentially Growing Ventures From Exponentially Shrinking Technology," traced the inexorable path that he says biological evolution, human culture and technologies are driving us toward. "Ten thousand years ago humans developed fire, stone tools and the wheel," Kurzweil said. "A thousand years ago the printing press emerged." That pace has increased steadily. Today, Kurzweil contends, the pace of change is accelerating so fast that the next 20 years will produce as much new technology as the entire 20th century. And that amount of change will double again in only 14 more years. Such a staggering rate of change is more than most people can comprehend, Kurzweil said. Read on... 2. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 3. ### RiomacleodRegistered Senior Member Messages: 301 it is not likely that the technology will outstrip our ability to comprehend it. However it will (in short order) outstrip the ability of many people to care to keep up with it. The barbarians of the world that still exist will be less and less driven to keep up with emerging technologies, and likely be bred out. I predict that technology will eventually create a survival selection on people who care to learn and keep up with new things. 4. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 5. ### Pine_netChaos ProductRegistered Senior Member Messages: 485 Researchers at the University of North Carolina have developed two methods of nanoscale self-assembly. They have applied for patents and this could be what nanotechnologists have long dreamed of. Prepare for the collapse of many an economy and the rise of complete nanoscale design. I wrote an article a while back on getting off this rock when something like this rolls around. It's about time to blast off I think. Read on Side note: notice the strange url id? http://www.triangletechjournal.com/news/article.html?item_id=666 Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! Last edited: Sep 10, 2004 6. ### Google AdSenseGuest Advertisement to hide all adverts. 7. ### weed_eater_guyIt ain't broke, don't fix it!Registered Senior Member Messages: 1,516 yay, i can have a nanobot computer implant in my head that would let me calculate practically ANYTHING in a millisecond! i could do my taxes nothing flat! yeah, that'd be sweet, but would it really be a gift to know and learn everything, or would life just get lame as hell? 8. ### Starthane Xyzthreturns occasionally...Valued Senior Member Messages: 1,465 I love the talk of nanotech brain enhancements, and was speculating about much the same thing 10 years ago! Imagine if any of us could purchase a photographic memory, the calculating power of 10 current PCs, and instant software learning packages for anything: a medical degree, a foreign language, the complete works of Mozart in solo piano scores? However, Mr. Kurzweil's use of exponential growth in his projections is somewhat naive. There is only so much that humans, or even machines, can think of, design and build within a certain length of time. And technology must have some ultimate limits, based on the structure of matter and the laws of physics. 9. ### weed_eater_guyIt ain't broke, don't fix it!Registered Senior Member Messages: 1,516 there are always limits, but i really don't think we're anywhere near the edge of the envelope. i'd guess we've got a century or two to go before we need to be evolved to the next level or whatever step needs to otherwise occur, but that just might happen, especially with the advent of nanotech. As for neural interfaces, imagine what VR would be possible with that kind of interface? you'd actually BE shooting your friends, maybe even see their faces. The imersion would kick ass, but would it get so real that it's just disgusting to play? just a thought... 10. ### Pine_netChaos ProductRegistered Senior Member Messages: 485 Input... Transcendence: Noun 1. A state of being or existence above and beyond the limits of material experience. The human mind is a wonderful thing isn't it? I mean think about it; the universe created a way to know itself. Each of us in our own right exploring this "place" we call reality. The transcendence of human consciousness I believe is about to occur within each and everyone of us. I believe it will be something like a waking dream of some kind. A sort of lucid dream of the unlimited. The grand challenges of the universe await us. The stars we see in the night have always called to us. Is there life beyond what we experience? What are the limits of human consciousness? What are the limits of inner space? It’s all a bit curved at the bottom isn’t it? ramble.. ramble..... 11. ### dixonmasseyValued Senior Member Messages: 2,151 strangely, despite all the$ and time spent, overhyped MEMS did not produce anything of the practical value yet (except paychecks, of course). MEMS gradually are being forgotten by grant seekers. "Nano" is the magic funding word these days. My former crooky boss was peddling NEMS (N stands for nano) to funding agencies 2 years ago. We were joking that he'll start peddling AEMS (A stands for angstroms) very soon. Maybe he's doing it already. Man has a talent for getting $, no matter how worthless is the stuff he's peddling. I observed up close and personal the slaves working on "bio computing". My impressions: it's a bull, sci-fi, impractical, worthless bull. Just imagine how long it will take to attach billions/millions or even hundreds of golden particles to a DNA string using Atomic Force Microscope to create a prototype of a bio chip. "Self-organization", nano-bots .... sounds impressive. But....... it's way far away. We'll be dead, and it may be still just round the corner. Futurologists are worthless. Especially, if their predictions are skewed by their private interest (i.e. funding$).

Last edited: Sep 12, 2004
12. ### Starthane Xyzthreturns occasionally...Valued Senior Member

Messages:
1,465
I think you're right, in that it's a pointless investment to pay people for their technological predictions so that you will "know" what to put money on. Best just to look for promising new ventures in already-established fields, if you have capital to play with and you don't like big risks.

I mean, in the late 1980s, who ever predicted the Internet - or text messaging?

Messages:
1,297
14. ### Fraggle RockerStaff Member

Messages:
24,690
I beg to differ. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s, Toffler and the other futurists (there's no "ology" in it) made some very accurate predictions.

No, they didn't postulate specific technologies, because that sort of thing doesn't matter. What matters is the new types of resources, the new social organizations, and they got those right.

Knowledge, power, work, and wealth are being decentralized. Corporations are faltering, not because labor is cheaper in China or because America can't compete, but because corporations aren't as necessary as they used to be. New technologies make it possible to "manufacture" products in smaller batches. Cellular technology allows entire countries to become connected without spending twenty years erecting telephone poles and stringing wires. Coupled with the internet, this makes it difficult even for the government of China to keep its people ignorant of what's going on in the world. The internet and FedEx allow women in Uruguay to sell their fabrics directly to dealers in the USA, without having five levels of middlemen take a cut, making poor countries inexorably less poor and their people more powerful. The loss of stature of the corporation means less wealth is tied up in the phantom money of stock certificates and more of it is distributed out to the people who create it.

As the power of the rich countries dissipates, the GDP of the world's largest and poorest countries -- China, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, is doing something like doubling more than once per decade.

Even war is becoming less centralized. Individuals armed with fairly mundane weapons can harrass entire governments since the collapse of the Cold War political paradigm. The demise of the USSR itself and the end of the Cold War that sprang the Third World from its cage was largely due to the proliferation of information and the loss of economic power of the Second World.

Whether all this was made possible by instant messaging or by elves doesn't matter. The post-industrial era is coming true, and it's very much in line with what the futurists predicted.

15. ### RomanBannedBanned

Messages:
11,560
I once read a Dilbert strip where Dogbert was theorizing what the internet would do. It went something like this:
Single cells form tissues, tissues form organs and organs form organisms. What would happen when enough people were connected through the interent?

Well, the computing power of millions of computers have been linked through the net, finding the zillionth digit of pi. SETI is also using the internet to analyze signals. Proteins and other genetic molecules are being computed by PCs all over the world being linked.

16. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
The first quantum computer is actually going to do something like that pretty soon. By 2011, if I remember correctly.

This is sort of controversial. It might be a bad idea. Imagine being able to have 1,000 time as much power as you had. You would probably go nuts with extreme overloaded informtation!

Souds like we will never die!

That's very exciting.

Great news. Thanks Pine_net

17. ### weed_eater_guyIt ain't broke, don't fix it!Registered Senior Member

Messages:
1,516
would it be a smart thing to make a "nonbiological inteligence" that thought 1000 times faster than humans? Wouldn't machines start thinking they're superior? It's only the plot of so many sci-fi movies, I'm just saying it again

18. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
You don't need to give them free will.....

19. ### Starthane Xyzthreturns occasionally...Valued Senior Member

Messages:
1,465
I'd have thought that any entity, organic or technological, which was aware of its own existence and capable of original thought (one definition of true intelligence), would also, inevitably, have free will.

Free will, after all, is simply the ability to reject or query instructions from another being. Any AI which could evaluate the results of its actions would understand when those actions, in reponse to human orders, could have negative consequences of some kind - especially for the AI itself. And if the non-biological intelligence you fellows refer to was indeed thinking thousands of times faster than us, it could explore all possible outcomes in seconds - just like a chess computer. And reject negative courses of action just as easily.

If an AI is designed to lack that ability, it may as well not be conscious at all. Or, if it had inbuilt fundamental "safeguards" which compell it to obey ALL human orders regardless of its own deliberations - like a strong post-hypnotic command, or mental block, in a human - this would probably drive it mad. Just like Hal.

I should think it would, at least, devote all its self-programming and software development capacity to finding a way around a behavioural block.

20. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
Just because they are "self-aware" and capable of original thought that doesn't mean they have free will. Free will implies that you have an option. If you don't give the computer the option to do something, he ain't gonna do it. I mean... you can always block something, make something permanent.

Besides, if all fails, we can just unplug him.

21. ### Starthane Xyzthreturns occasionally...Valued Senior Member

Messages:
1,465
Is it ethical to create an intelligence capable of deliberation, and subject it to such restrictions? A new kind of slavery would ensue.

Pulling the plug would probably save people this sort of moral dilemma. And as long as you were still able to reactivate the AI with its consciousness intact, it wouldn't be murder...

22. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
It wouldn't be slavery if they weren't self-conscious. Restrict them from that and the problem is solved.