David Kirkpatrick

August 20, 2010

Ray Kurzweil on exponential growth and reverse engineering the brain

Via KurzweilAI.net — At the conclusion of a longer blog post refuting PZ Myers characterization that he “doesn’t understand the brain,” Ray Kurzweil concludes with a very salient point on exponential versus linear thinking and why many of seemingly fantastic predictions (from the coming of the Singularity on down) may not be so unreachable after all.

From the link:

Halfway through the genome project, the project’s original critics were still going strong, pointing out that we were halfway through the 15 year project and only 1 percent of the genome had been identified. The project was declared a failure by many skeptics at this point. But the project had been doubling in price-performance and capacity every year, and at one percent it was only seven doublings (at one year per doubling) away from completion. It was indeed completed seven years later. Similarly, my projection of a worldwide communication network tying together tens and ultimately hundreds of millions of people, emerging in the mid to late 1990s, was scoffed at in the 1980s, when the entire U.S. Defense Budget could only tie together a few thousand scientists with the ARPANET. But it happened as I predicted, and again this resulted from the power of exponential growth.

Linear thinking about the future is hardwired into our brains. Linear predictions of the future were quite sufficient when our brains were evolving. At that time, our most pressing problem was figuring out where that animal running after us was going to be in 20 seconds. Linear projections worked quite well thousands of years ago and became hardwired. But exponential growth is the reality of information technology.

We’ve seen smooth exponential growth in the price-performance and capacity of computing devices since the 1890 U.S. census, in the capacity of wireless data networks for over 100 years, and in biological technologies since before the genome project. There are dozens of other examples. This exponential progress applies to every aspect of the effort to reverse-engineer the brain.

August 6, 2010

The Singularity and rationality

Via KurzweilAI.net

Singularity and Rationality: Eliezer Yudkowsky speaks out

August 5, 2010 by Thomas McCabe

Eliezer Yudkowsky is a Research Fellow at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and founder of the community blog Less Wrong. We discussed his coming talk at the Singularity Summit on August 15, his forthcoming book on human rationality, his theory of “friendly AI,” and the likelihood of the Singularity and how to achieve it.

What are you working on currently?

I’m working on a book on human rationality. I’ve got… let me see… 143,000 words written so far. There’s been a lot of progress lately in fields contributing to human rationality, and it hasn’t made its way down to the popular level yet, even though it seems like something that should be popularizable. The second part of the book is on how to actually change your mind, and all the various biases that have been discovered that prevent people from changing their minds. Also, with reference to the Singularity, we’ve discovered in practice that you can’t just sit down and explain Singularity-related things to people without giving them a lot of background material first, and this book hopes to provide some of that background material.

Singularity Irrationality

What’s the most irrational thing you’ve heard regarding the Singularity?

That’s sort of a fuzzy question, because as the word “Singularity” gets looser and looser, the stuff you hear about it gets more and more irrational and less and less relevant. For example, for the people who think that the invention of hallucinogens was a Singularity… I forget who exactly that was [Terence McKenna].

The Singularity Institute once received an email saying, “This entire site is the biggest load of navel gazing stupidity I have ever seen. You are so naive, and clueless as to the inherent evil that lurks forever. A machine is no match for Satan.” I don’t know if that counts as the *most* irrational thing people have said about the Singularity, but…

In terms of what the public accepts as the Singularity, I think that the sort of more naive, “Well, people are still walking around in their biological bodies even after there are superintelligences around, and they’re just sort of being cool and futuristic but it hasn’t completely shattered life as we know it” — that sort of conservatism — may be the silliest thing. I think that’s a failure to understand superintelligence as something that becomes real and will have a real effect on the world.

(more…)

June 12, 2010

The Singularity in the NYT

Filed under: et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:25 pm

Mainstreaming futurism. Well, sort of …

From the link:

Yet it also smacked of a future that the Singularity University founders hold dear and often discuss with a techno-utopian bravado: the arrival of the Singularity — a time, possibly just a couple decades from now, when a superior intelligence will dominate and life will take on an altered form that we can’t predict or comprehend in our current, limited state.

At that point, the Singularity holds, human beings and machines will so effortlessly and elegantly merge that poor health, the ravages of old age and even death itself will all be things of the past.

April 6, 2010

“The Singularity is Near” to debut at Sonoma Film Festival

News from KurzweilAI.net:

‘The Singularity is Near’ film debuts at Sonoma Film Festival
KurzweilAI.net, Apr. 5, 2010

“The Singularity Is Near: a True Story About the Future” makes its festival debut at the 13th Annual Sonoma Film Festival (April 15-18, 2010) with a special screening on Friday, April 16, 2010.

The feature-length film, directed by Anthony Waller and produced by Ray Kurzweil, Ehren Koepf and Toshi Hoo, executive producer Martine Rothblatt (Terasem MotionInfoCulture), explores the controversial ideas of Ray Kurzweil, based on his New York Times best-selling book by the same title.

Kurzweil examines the social and philosophical implications of these profound changes and the potential threats they pose to human civilization in dialogues with leading experts, such as former White House counter-terrorism advisor, Richard Clark; technologists Bill JoyMitch KaporMarvin Minsky, Eric Drexler, and Robert A. Freitas, Jr.; Future Shock author Alvin Toffler; civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz; and music luminary Quincy Jones.

Kurzweil illustrates possible scenarios of his imagined future with narrative scenes starring popular NCIS actress Pauley Perrette and personal development guru Tony Robbins.

For more informationSonoma Film Festival and The Singularity is Near – The Movie.

March 16, 2010

The Singularity in the ivory tower

Via KurzweilAI.net — Rutgers is offering an online course on the technological Singularity.

Rutgers plans online course on the Singularity
KurzweilAI.net, Mar. 16, 2010

This summer, Rutgers University plans to offer “Special Topics in Sociology: Singularity Studies, the first accredited college course on the Singularity and associated technologies.

The three-credit summer course will feature online lectures and discussions every Monday and Wednesday evening throughout the summer and is available to students internationally.

The textbook will be The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, supplemented by online articles appropriate to individual lectures.

The course will feature online interviews with leading futurists and technologists around the world exploring the social implications of these anticipated developments. Topics include future studies and forecasting, finance and entrepreneurship, networks and computing systems,biotechnology and informatics, nanotechnology,neuroscience and human enhancement, artificial intelligence and roboticsenergy and ecological systems, and space and physical sciences.

The course will be taught by a father-son team, Ben and Ted Goertzel. Ben is the Director of Applied Research for the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and an External Research Professor at Xiamen University in China. He also heads up two startup companies, Novamente LLC and Biomind LLC, has written several books on artificial intelligence and related topics, and is an advisor to the AIRobotics Track at Singularity University.

Ted, Ben’s father, is a sociology professor at Rutgers who regularly teaches a Cyberspace and Society course and is author or co-author of numerous books on sociology andscience.

Students and guest speakers will be recruited internationally. The sessions will be recorded and available for viewing during the semester via the Elluminate system.

More info: Singularity Studies: The Future of Humanity in the Age of Superhuman Artificial Intelligence

October 5, 2009

2009 Singularity Summit media page

Filed under: Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:35 pm

Via KurzweilAI.net –

Singularity Summit media page launched

KurzweilAI.net, Oct. 5, 2009

The Singularity Summit has launched a media page foruploading videos (including some SS09 sessions), photos, and tweets (#SS09).

October 4, 2009

2009 Singularity Summit in progress

If you’re looking for information on, or reporting from, the 2009 Singularity Summit, hit this link for some excellent blogging on the various presentations and goings on in New York this weekend.

From the link, today’s wrap:

I’ll do a full retrospective at the end of the conference, but will offer just a short wrap-up for the first day. Today’s talks were, for the most part, rather dry and technical. Technical is good and important, but the talks today were really too short to provide anything but a high-level overview, and far too many of the presenters went into more detail than audience members could plausibly absorb. (Perhaps the speakers mean to induce through frustration a subtle case for neural enhancement? Or maybe they just figured they were preaching to an audience already well acquainted with the basics.) As is pretty typical, alas, of almost any kind of conference, many of the speakers seemed to be modifying talks they had given elsewhere and just tacking on a bit to the beginning and end about how their remarks were relevant to the Singularity — when they actually weren’t as pertinent as many of the attendees were expecting. At the breaks, I saw a lot of the speakers milling around and found myself unable to think of anything interesting to ask most of them about their lectures.

Many thanks to blogger Ari N. Schulman for the posts.

And if you’re wondering what all this Singularity stuff is, here’s my Singularity related posts.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

September 4, 2009

Guidelines for ushering in the Singularity

Via KurzweilAI.net — Singularity news is always fun stuff.

The Singularity and the Fixed Point

Technology Review, Sept. 4, 2009

If one is trying to build an intelligent machine capable of devising more intelligent machines, a few guidelines are essential, says MIT professor Edward Boyden:

- Find a way to build in motivation, and also motivation amplification–the continued desire to build in self-sustaining motivation, as intelligence amplifies.

- Avoid paralysis of decision making from too many choices and a “societal fixed point” outcome that self-reinforces, remaining in the status quo.

Read Original Article>>

March 31, 2009

Jim Canton on the future of technology

Filed under: Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:08 pm

A cool article from CIO.com. I’m always a sucker for anything Singularity.

From the first link:

Dr. James Canton has made a living out of predicting the future: He’s the CEO of the Institute of Global Futures, a Fortune 1000 advisor, author of such books as The Extreme Future and Technofutures, and an advisor to the new Google- and Nasa-backed Singularity University.

Despite the bleak economy and uncertain future, technology is key to our future, says Canton. Because of that tech workers and IT leaders are in a unique position to create opportunities for themselves. He weighed in on which trends were most important to techies.

 

James Canton
“Singularity—when AI based computers and networks rival or surpass human intelligence—wins the top prize for outrageous ideas of the year.”
Institute of Global Futures CEO James Canton

March 19, 2009

Transcendent Man to premeire at Tribeca Film Festival

This documentary is on futurist (and creator of the synthesizer bearing his name) Ray Kurzweil. Should be a very interesting film.

Hot from the inbox:

Transcendent Man, a documentary on the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, will premiere on April 25 at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City .

 

See details below for how to get tickets to one of the premiere screenings.

 

Director Barry Ptolemy traveled to five countries and followed Ray Kurzweil for two years, documenting Kurzweil’s journey to bring the ideas from his best-selling book The Singularity is Nearto a world audience.  Ptolemy expertly explores the social and philosophical implications of the transformative changes that Kurzweil predicts and their intertwined promise and peril, in dialogues with world leaders such as Colin Powell; technologists Hugo de Garis, Peter Diamandis, Kevin Warwick, and Dean Kamen; journalists Kevin Kelly and Tom Abate; and luminary Stevie Wonder. Award-winning American composer Philip Glass composed the original theme music, which mirrors the depth and intensity of the film.

 

The movie trailer can be seen at http://www.TranscendentMan.com.

 

Head below the fold for more info. (more…)

June 6, 2008

More Singularity and living 3D nano-microscopy

From KurzweilAI.net. Ray Kurzweil talks about the Singularityon NPR and a new technique allows for nano-level microscopy on living cells.

Will We Recognize The Future?
Science Friday, June 6, 2008What happens when the rate of technological change becomes so fast that the fundamental nature of what it means to be human changes too?

On Science Fridayon NPR (June 6, 2009 at 3 PM), host Ira Flatow talks with inventor, technologist and futuristRay Kurzweil about the idea of the Singularity — what happens when technology advances so much that it’s impossible to predict what happens next. Will artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and biotechnology be able to completely reshape what it means to be human?

This is a call-in radio show.

 
Read Original Article>>

Pretty on the Inside
Technology Review, June 5, 2008University of California, San Francisco and Ludwig Maximilians University researchers are using a new technique called 3-D structured-illumination microscopy to view living cells with 100 nanometers resolution.


Cells prepare for division by condensing their DNA into chromosomes (Lothar Schermelleh, Peter Carlton)

The new microscope illuminates cells with interference patterns. When a fine cellular structure reflects this light, it changes the pattern slightly. The microscope collects it, then software interprets the changes and creates an image.

The inner workings of living cells have previously been impossible to resolve with optical microscopes, which are limited to a resolution of about half the wavelength of visible light, around 200 nanometers. Electron microscopy has the resolution, but can only be used on dead cells.

 
Read Original Article>>

Spectrum Singularity special

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:53 am

IEEE Spectrum Online has a special report on the Singularity.  I haven’t read much of it just yet, but looks pretty cool.

Vernor Vinge pens one article.

Here’s an excerpt:

In that event, I expect the singularity will come as some combination of the following:

 

The AI Scenario: We create superhuman artificial intelligence (AI) in computers.

 

The IA Scenario: We enhance human intelligence through human-to-computer interfaces—that is, we achieve intelligence amplification (IA).

 

The Biomedical Scenario: We directly increase our intelligence by improving the neurological operation of our brains.

 

The Internet Scenario: Humanity, its networks, computers, and databases become sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.

 

The Digital Gaia Scenario: The network of embedded microprocessors becomes sufficiently effective to be considered a superhuman being.

 

The essays in this issue of IEEE Spectrum use similar definitions for the technological singularity but variously rate the notion from likely to totally bogus. I’m going to respond to arguments made in these essays and also mine them for signs of the oncoming singularity that we might track in the future.

May 6, 2008

Reason mag interviews Peter Thiel

Here’s an interesting Reason interview with Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and angel investor of Facebook. They discuss libertarianism, The Singularity and the ongoing progress of science.

From Ronald Baily’s introduction:

I first met Peter Thiel—co-founder of PayPal, angel investor in Facebook, founder of the hedge fund Clarium Capital Management, adviser to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and self-described libertarian—at a party in his San Francisco home last September. Perhaps 100 digerati wandered through Thiel’s sleek Marina District townhouse, chatting amiably over wine and canapés in rooms filled with up-to-the-minute abstract art.

The party launched the second annual Singularity Summit, held at the nearby Palace of Fine Arts during the ensuing two days. The Singularity, a term coined by the science fiction writer Vernor Vinge in 1983, refers to the eventual technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. Just as our model of physics breaks down when it tries to describe the center of a black hole, Vinge observed, our attempts to model the future break down when we try to foresee a world that contains smarter-than-human intelligences. The Singularity Institute takes it for granted that exponentially accelerating information technology will produce such artificial intelligences; its chief goal is to make sure they will be friendly to humans.

In 1987, while studying philosophy at Stanford, Thiel helped found the libertarian/conservative student newspaper The Stanford Review. As a law student at Stanford he was president of the university’s Federalist Society. After working briefly for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell in New York, Thiel switched to trading derivatives for Credit Suisse Financial. In the mid-1990s, Thiel transformed himself into a venture capitalist and a serial entrepreneur. He returned to California, where he has backed a number of startups. In addition to PayPal and Facebook, Thiel has invested in the social networking site LinkedIn, the search engine company Powerset, and the Web security provider IronPort.

Thiel also joined the culture wars by co-authoring The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and the Politics of Intolerance at Stanford (1996), and was an executive producer for the 2005 feature film Thank You for Smoking, based on Christopher Buckley’s politically incorrect novel of the same name. Besides backing the Singularity Institute, Thiel pledged a $3.5 million matching grant in 2006 to the Methuselah Foundation to support its anti-aging research agenda.

I interviewed Thiel between sessions at the Singularity Summit.

April 15, 2008

Billionfold increase in technical capacity according to Kurzweil

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:21 pm

This sort of adjunct to Moore’s Law is a Ray Kurzweil specialty and a key component of the “singularity” concept. So far Ray’s predictions, if maybe a bit grandiose, have come to pass. I wouldn’t count this futurist out when contemplating the next few decades.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Making the World A Billion Times Better
Washington Post, April 13, 2008As powerful as information technologyis today, we will make another billion-fold increase in capability (for the same cost) over the next 25 years, says Ray Kurzweil.

“Only technology possesses the scale to address the major challenges — such as energy and the environment, disease and poverty — confronting society. That, at least, is the major conclusion of a panel, organized by the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering, on which I recently participated.”

 
Read Original Article>>

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