Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A year after hearing about the Technological Singularity

A year ago I heard Ray Kurzweil on a BBC radio interview. I wrote down some thoughts at the time.

A year later it seems, that the concept is getting a bit more mainstream. (Of course a BBC interview is already mainstream). In 2010 and in 2011 this year, the Singularity has been discussed many times in the New York Times, Time magazine had a cover article , etc.
Forbes has a blog "Robot Overlords" devoted to the subject. But few people (in Amsterdam) have heard of the concept.

What I didn't expect was an astounding AI demonstration like IBM Watson...

Another important development are the Microsoft Kinect Hacks (for robots) : See this parody Kinect Self-Awareness Hack

It is interesting to note that people do think in a linear fashion and can't get to grips with exponential progress. An example is Paul Allen who in his 2011 autobiography Idea Man wrote:
"Though I won't say that a singularity is impossible, I believe that it is centuries away at best...It took forty years to develop a computer chess program that could consistently beat the best human players,"

That shows me that he is thinking in roughly equal steps: 40 years to do this, 40 years to do that, 40 years for the next thing after that, etc = centuries. In exponential thinking if each step takes 1/2 the time of the previous step, you a get totally different scenerio. That is acceleration. Things should only get really interesting around 2025, when computers are more than 10 000 times faster than IBM Watson today.

Comments, questions or E-mails welcome: ajbrenninkmeijer (a)

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