Will the Singularity happen?

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by francois, Oct 5, 2010.


Will the Singularity happen?

  1. Probably

    23 vote(s)
  2. No

    9 vote(s)
  3. I don't know, man

    6 vote(s)
  1. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    I think it, or something like it, will happen within 30 years or so.

    The Singularity is the idea that technological progress is accelerating and that soon, progress will be so fast and its effects so profound, that it will result in an irreversible change in what it means to be human; and also, things will be become unpredictable and incomprehensible to ordinary humans.

    That's sort of the broad definition since different people think the Singularity will result in different things. For example, Ray Kurzweil makes specific predictions: humans will merge with machines and through time, more of our brains will become nonbiological components. Then ultimately, this AI will infiltrate the galaxy and all of the matter in the universe will become intelligent.

    Maybe he's right, but it seems too much like romantic speculation. Rather, I think the better way to see the events leading to the Singularity as being caused by an intelligence explosion, rather than the simple advent of AI that is as intelligent as humans. I think within five years there's going to be a cognitive revolution akin to the revolution that Crick and Watson had with DNA. We're going to finally get a real grasp on how memory and intelligence works. When that happens, we'll find ways to greatly augment our own intelligence and memory with drugs, gene therapy, and brain implants. We'll see an intelligence explosion in ourselves before it happens with machines.

    Then, spurred by our augmented intelligence, progress will be sped up even more greatly. As the impact of each successive technological paradigm becomes more disruptive, there will be a greater potential for disaster. So we might accidentally destroy ourselves before the Singularity even gets to happen.

    • I'd say there's a 20% chance that we'll be an extinct species in 30 years.
    • Within 30 years, there's a 10% chance that something calamitous will happen, which will cause us to land in a fallen state, causing us to start civilization over again, like a post-apocalyptic movie.
    • There's a 70% chance the Singularity, or something like it, will happen.
    a.) Do you think the Singularity will happen?
    b.) If not, what do you make of the fact that so many well-known and successful technology businesspeople and organizations take the Singularity seriously? Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, NASA, Bill Gates, Ray Kurzweil and the executives of Intel are all people and organizations who are sober, intelligent, and have privileged insight into technology. They all agree that this is where we are going.
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  3. Green Destiny Banned Banned

    An artificial intelligence arising from a bunch of electrons moving in wires. I hate to dissappoint, but there has been no evidence to suggest if this kind of artificial awareness possibility is even credible. I am afraid beings like Mr. Data just seem too far fetched for me.

    Life is an emergent property of biomaterial particles, organic.
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  5. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    I don't think intelligence would ever be as simple as a bunch of electrons moving in wires, much as I don't think intelligence is as simple as shifting electrical potentials in our synapses. It has more to do with patterns produced by those changes in electrical potential. However, that's not to say that organic matter doesn't have important properties in making those patterns possible.

    That said, notice the way I defined the Singularity doesn't say anything about intelligence machines. I think it's possible to have a Singularity without that aspect, even if it probably will happen. The main importance that people give to the idea of AI is that it will be able to feed into itself, improve itself, increasing the rate of progress. Well, the same thing would happen if we improved our own intelligence. That's why I think it's better to emphasize a general intelligence explosion, rather than an explosion in the intelligence of AI, specifically.
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    a.) Do you think the Singularity will happen?

    Not for a very long time but it could happen eventually.
  8. SolusCado Registered Senior Member

    You are assigning an arbitrary definition to the word "Life". If that is how you want to define "Life," then fine - don't call AI life. But if you are suggesting that it is impossible for purely computer-based systems to achieve the status of "artificial intelligence," on what basis do you make that claim? HOw is it NOT credible? Our own intelligence isn't even understood - how can you possibly claim insight beyond all the world's scientists?
  9. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    What kind of timescale are you talking about?
  10. superstring01 Moderator

    Fifty to seventy-five years.

  11. kmguru Staff Member

    That is more like it, because, our development has slowed down to the point, we are no longer in an exponential path. More like level off for a while till next generation.

    All it takes is a small breakthrough of a mutating computer virus that is hard to kill and evolves its way to who knows what....
  12. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    Nahh, dude, more like 30. Things are happening fast.

    Whoa--where did you hear that? I'm pretty sure Moore's Law is still on track. GPU-producing nVidia predicts 570x speed improvement in six years (Aug 2009).

    Their GPU chip architecture for 2013 is expected to have 16 times the performance of their current beast chip, the Fermi GF100. I think that's surpassing Moore's Law. Then companies are expected to soon be developing graphene chips, which are expected to produce an instant ten fold performance increase. Things are definitely speeding up.

    Some people get tripped up and get the impression that innovation is slowing down because innovation isn't occurring the way they expect it to. Nobody really invents doohickies anymore, and where's my goddamn flying car?

    Those people are blind to how fast technology is changing because they don't understand the difference between a cellphone and a smart phone. It's the same thing to them. But the difference is giant and they're actually evolving at a furious rate because of incremental and exponential improvements in wireless broadband networks, the hardware inside, and Android.

    Old crusty people won't see it until it's totally blown over them.
  13. Green Destiny Banned Banned

    What scientists? I know of a few myself who rally this proposterous idea on. Listen, even radiation has been shown to be able to assemble together the basic building blocks of life - but do we really think life can arise in the form of radiation? If there was indeed a vast array in which life could appear other than in biological entities, then explain to me first why we haven't seen them, otherwise, I am standing strong against it as a psudeoscientific speculation.

    Such suggestions have themselves a poor understanding of how life procreates, regenerates and exists.
  14. kmguru Staff Member

    I thought we are talking about Singularity? The world economy is down since 2001. The USA revenue is going sideways when you compare the trend curve between 1960 and 2001. I am sure the situation is same everywhere.

    When world economy is in a recession and stays there, it is not conducive to innovation that affects everyone - and Singularity is about affecting the whole mankind, not because Bill Gates is rich.

    The chips may get more computing power, but no equivalent software exists that also is improving at the same pace. Let us put it this way, just because a rail engine has 40,000 HP does not help your car to fly, does it?

    I am still waiting for a 2000 HP power plant in a shoe box that can power my flying car that I designed in 1968!
  15. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    I don't think economical progress is per se the best indicator of technological progress. Technological progress is what the Singularity is about. Regardless, we've seen a lot of economic growth that is a direct result of technology. The mass of technology progress is yet to come.

    I'm not sure the Singularity is about changing all of human kind, though it probably will. It certainly isn't about everyone becoming rich, whatever that will mean when the time comes. Haves and have nots may indeed be a defining feature of our Singularity. The poor, downtrodden, fearful anti-technologists and the transhumans, who are plugged into cyberspace, who have everything, are doing everything, and have all the power. It wouldn't surprise me if Luddism becomes a global movement in the next five or ten years. In that case, the poor Luddites would certainly be affected.

    That's exactly what I'm talking about! Technology isn't evolving like you imagined it would. No, we don't have a 2,000 HP power plant in a shoebox--technological progress is happening in a more subtle, but profound way.

    We tend to think in terms of physical objects: cars, houses, engines, DVDs, CD, books, clothes, and means of moving ourselves from one place to another. But this is going away. Nobody listens to CDs anymore. They listen to music on tiny computers. Nobody watches DVDs--they stream movies through the Internet. Soon, nobody will read books or magazines. Now, there are better e-readers. Things are slowly but surely disappearing.

    The ironic thing is that within ten years or so, because of nanomaterials, things like flying cars may become possible. You may get your 2,000 HP shoebox thingy. But by the time it's possible, there would be no point, because anything you want to do with it will be better achieved in virtual reality.
  16. kmguru Staff Member

    a lot of economic growth is not happening, that could mean a lot of technology is not happening. They are related, no?

    So, what do you expect to happen?

    Where? some examples would help. Do not tell me old wine in a new bottle is technological progress. Like main frame to cloud computing with a higher bandwidth.

    But you have same crappy music, video and books done by same old humans stuck in a rut. Do you know that the CD music is capable of 20-20K frequency bandwidth while the musicians use electronic equipment that is designed to cut off at 12K and some at 15K? So you get unnatural sound missing a lot of information vs. a live chamber music.

    I have been waiting for a long ass sci-fi series equal to or better than Babylon 5. Nothing yet even though we can design a CGI that looks so real.

    Most fictions have so many holes and even most non-fiction books of 500 pages can be condensed to 5 pages. What a waste of time.

    Yes there is technology that crappy people use to produce crap.

    I work in the field of Artificial Intelligence. I know how long it will take before that is possible if we continue in an exponential rate. But that slowed down since 2001. I also worked on research in music and sound and have recorded many chamber music concerts, so I know the music world very well. I am also working on unlimited cheap way of producing energy - first Thorium, then Fusion and then electron stripper. I would say we are in a ditch, when we come out of it, I will let you know.

    But the future is bright - may not be for us, but the next evolution after the ELE (Extinction Level Event)....

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  17. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Despite comments to the contrary, things indeed ARE beginning to slow down.

    Allow me to explain: While there are still several possiblilites to keep Moore's Law on track, there is something else very troubling going on. We are now turning out fewer and fewer scientists and other professional people than we did in the past. Not only that, but the greatest efforts (and the most money!) today are going into things like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

    And when you get right down to it, all of those fall MUCH more into the realm of entertainment as opposed to producing any new or useful scientific knowledge or breakthroughs. This generation and the ones to follow are little more than entertainment addicts - and will produce somewhere between little and nothing.
  18. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    Sure, they're related. Do you doubt it?

    Part of what the Singularity means is that we don't know what is going to happen. What I'm guessing is that computers are going to get a lot more powerful; we're going to get a lot more intimate with them (perhaps brain implants); there's going to be an artificially triggered intelligence explosion; then there's going to be a lot more technological progress and a lot of uncertainty. That's what I think is going to happen in a nutshell.

    Where what? I think I explained it. Okay, here's an example. I have a phone that I can browse the Internet and stream Youtube videos with. I have a phone that has fast access to a global network, humanity's largest depository of information ever. Imagine you asked your grandmother to mention a famous historical event and she said "JFK's inaugral speech" and then you pulled a tiny device out of your pocket and then showed her a video of the speech. Her head would explode. Do you know what we had 20 years ago?

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    The only point you made with with all that is that we have tons of incredible technology, but we still produce crap. That's not a counterargument. Oh well.

    It's funny that you mention all of those things, because I've been seeing amazing progress in the past few weeks. There are some pretty amazing AI applications, like Google's Prediction API, BlindType's predictive typing, and Google's voice recognition. Voice recognition isn't yet perfect, but it's almost there.

    Since you mentioned energy, yeah, there's a revolution going on there, perhaps not in fusion, but at least in photovoltaics. Because of nanotechnology, prices are dropping very fast.

    It amazes me that you don't see what's happening.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2010
  19. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

    Is that how you would describe Chinese and Indian people?
  20. kmguru Staff Member

    If you read it between the lines, I did not say it is not happening, I said the happening has slowed down considerably...it is just not me, but from many people who work in the bleeding edge of technology.

    Most humans have a difficulty understanding the non-linearity in a time series.

    But if it makes you feel better....
  21. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member


    "30 years"... hope so... im aroun 60 now an id love to be aroun to see it take off.!!!
  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Certainly not. Except for a VERY tiny percentage of the population, the rest of those people's thoughts are centered on where and how to get their next meal. And it will be that way for a long time to come.
  23. kmguru Staff Member


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