If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

Good article, discussion by some of the players

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#1  Postby kennyc » Dec 24, 2014 5:38 pm


Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence
Kurt Andersen wonders: If the Singularity is near, will it bring about global techno-Nirvana or civilizational ruin?



Artificial intelligence is suddenly everywhere. It’s still what the experts call “soft A.I.,” but it is proliferating like mad. We’re now accustomed to having conversations with computers: to refill a prescription, make a cable-TV-service appointment, cancel an airline reservation—or, when driving, to silently obey the instructions of the voice from the G.P.S.

But until the other morning I’d never initiated an elective conversation with a talking computer. I asked the artificial-intelligence app on my iPhone how old I am. First, Siri spelled my name right, something human beings generally fail to do. Then she said, “This might answer your question,” and displayed my correct age in years, months, and days. She knows more about me than I do. When I asked, “What is the Singularity?,” Siri inquired whether I wanted a Web search (“That’s what I figured,” she replied) and offered up this definition: “A technological singularity is a predicted point in the development of a civilization at which technological progress accelerates beyond the ability of present-day humans to fully comprehend or predict.”

Siri appeared on my phone three years ago, a few months after the IBM supercomputer Watson beat a pair of Jeopardy! champions. Since then, Watson has been speeded up 24-fold and fed millions of pages of medical data, thus turning the celebrity machine into a practicing cancer diagnostician. Autonomous machines now make half the trades on Wall Street, meaning, for instance, that a firm will often own a given stock for less than a second—thus the phrase “high-frequency trading,” the subject of Flash Boys, Michael Lewis’s book earlier this year. (Trading by machines is one reason why a hoax A.P. tweet last year about a White House bombing made the Dow Jones Industrial Average suddenly drop 146 points.) Google’s test fleet of a couple dozen robotic Lexuses and Priuses, after driving more than 700,000 miles on regular streets and highways, have been at fault in not a single accident. Meanwhile, bionic and biological breakthroughs are radically commingling humans and machines. Last year, a team of biomedical engineers demonstrated a system that enabled people wearing electrode-embedded caps to fly a tiny drone helicopter with their minds.

Machines performing unimaginably complicated calculations unimaginably fast—that’s what computers have always done. Computers were called “electronic brains” from the beginning. But the great open question is whether a computer really will be able to do all that your brain can do, and more. Two decades from now, will artificial intelligence—A.I.—go from soft to hard, equaling and then quickly surpassing the human kind? And if the Singularity is near, will it bring about global techno-Nirvana or civilizational ruin?

Those questions might seem like the stuff of late-night dorm-room bull sessions. But since the turn of this century, big-time tech-industry figures have taken sides: ultra-geeky masters of the tech universe versus other ultra-geeky masters of the tech universe. It’s a kind of Great Schism separating skeptics from true believers, dystopians from utopians, the cautious men from the giddy boys. (And let’s just say it: they’re almost all male.) This existential argument over the Singularity was the subject earlier this year of a big-budget action thriller called Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp as a Singularitarian A.I. genius at M.I.T. who’s poisoned by Luddite assassins, but before he dies, uploads his consciosness to a cloud. And now there’s a movie about a real-life genius and key pioneer of the digital age: in The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the young Brit out of Cambridge University who dreamed up the computer in the 1930s and then helped crack the Nazis’ machine-generated Enigma code during World War II.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

After the war, as the computer era began in earnest, Turing published a paper arguing that machines would eventually become intelligent, and suggesting a practical test, an “imitation game,” in which computers would attempt to fool people by passing for human. Remarkably, the paper—written in 1950, when a state-of-the-art, 14-ton computer had a memory equal to a few pages of text—lays out the basic terms of the Singularity debate as it exists today. Turing paraphrases each of the major objections to the idea of truly intelligent machines—technical, religious (“Thinking is a function of man’s immortal soul”), humanist (“The consequences of machines thinking would be too dreadful”), the problems of understanding real life’s ambiguous informal rules (such as driving), and the presumed impossibility of a computer achieving consciousness (“Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt . . . could we agree that machine equals brain”).

“I believe,” Turing wrote, “that in about 50 years’ time it will be possible to programme computers . . . to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than 70 per cent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.” His game became known as the Turing test. In 2012, the biggest Turing test yet was conducted in Britain, with 30 judges interrogating 30 individuals—25 human beings and five pieces of humanoid software. The best computer program fooled the judges 29 percent of the time. Then this past June at the Royal Society in London, the same bot fooled 10 of 30 judges—33 percent, beating Turing’s 30 percent threshold.

The two camps of digerati, Singularitarians versus skeptics, started forming at the end of the 20th century. At an important annual tech conference 16 years ago, Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, met Ray Kurzweil, inventor of text-scanning, music-synthesizer, and voice-synthesizer technologies. Kurzweil was in the hotel bar, insisting that before long computers would be sentient, and gave Joy the galleys of his forthcoming bestseller, The Age of Spiritual Machines, in which he argues that by 2029 we will have not only super-humanoid computers but also nanotech and biotech wonders that will eliminate most poverty and disease, producing the equivalent of “20,000 years of progress” during the 21st century.

....



http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/ ... ity-theory
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Photo Gallery - Writing&Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
User avatar
kennyc
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: Kenny A. Chaffin
Posts: 8698
Male

Country: U.S.A.
United States (us)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#2  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 02, 2015 3:30 pm

I suspect that Kurzweil was unaware that there are ultimate physical limitations on the capailities of electronics/opto-electronics. For him, Moore's Law continues indefinitely on all fronts (size, speed, etc).
May The Voice be with you!
DavidMcC
 
Name: David McCulloch
Posts: 14913
Age: 66
Male

Country: United Kigdom
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#3  Postby Animavore » Jan 02, 2015 3:37 pm

I think the singularity will save those who become borg-like and destroy the rest.
A most evolved electron.
User avatar
Animavore
 
Name: The Scribbler
Posts: 43327
Age: 41
Male

Ireland (ie)
Print view this post

Re: If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#4  Postby kennyc » Jan 02, 2015 3:54 pm

We are building butterflies. :)
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Photo Gallery - Writing&Poetry
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
User avatar
kennyc
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: Kenny A. Chaffin
Posts: 8698
Male

Country: U.S.A.
United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#5  Postby trubble76 » Jan 04, 2015 3:45 pm

Personally, I think this kind of technological super-expansion is our only realistic path to leaving the planet in any meaningful way, ie colonisation. The issue, I reckon, is one of control. There will be new power dynamics in humanity, there will be winners and losers, and it's plausible that the winners will be the things humans create rather than the humans themselves.

In general, as I was raised on Star Trek, I see the future optimistically. I think, given enough time, humans can solve any problem. Will we have enough time though?
Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose,
And nothin' ain't worth nothin' but it's free.

"Suck me off and I'll turn the voltage down"
User avatar
trubble76
RS Donator
 
Posts: 11205
Age: 43
Male

United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: If the Singularity is near -- will it save us or destroy us

#6  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 05, 2015 2:09 pm

trubble76 wrote:Personally, I think this kind of technological super-expansion is our only realistic path to leaving the planet in any meaningful way, ie colonisation. The issue, I reckon, is one of control. There will be new power dynamics in humanity, there will be winners and losers, and it's plausible that the winners will be the things humans create rather than the humans themselves.

In general, as I was raised on Star Trek, I see the future optimistically. I think, given enough time, humans can solve any problem. Will we have enough time though?

What exactly is it about the future that are you optimistic about? Star travel? FTL?
I see Star Trek as a vehicle for morality plays, etc. The alien species often represent different character types among people, so it's not really about space at all.
May The Voice be with you!
DavidMcC
 
Name: David McCulloch
Posts: 14913
Age: 66
Male

Country: United Kigdom
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post


Return to Psychology & Neuroscience

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest