thoughts on singularity...
Tue, Dec 18, 2007
The estimates (namely those put forth by Ray Kurzweil) are in the 2030s range, but the essential point is that we're close. Any period of rapid change can be frightening and socially unsettling, but I think it's important to keep perspective; the human brain is basically a computer system, albeit one with an incredibly long and poorly documented development cycle. What we're about to do is add orders of magnitude more processing power to the existing platform - which should in turn allow us to aggressively edit our consciousness and transcend human limitations.
Just to throw in my two cents on your questions:
- There is some serious opposition to the idea of the technological singularity out there, but for the most part it's obscure, and it's mainly just skeptics quipping that the rapid progression with Moore's Law won't hold much longer. How bad the neo-Luddism gets will be a function of which disruptive technology arrives first on the scene.
- That clichéd soundbyte of "Who would want to live forever? / You'd watch all your loved ones die" loses all significance when considering that
people alive today will have a very good shot at immortality. The only risks, of course, are presented by how rapid the change will be - I've even thought of using the term 'Cognitive Revolution,' alluding to the Industrial Revolution of old. Of course, this one will happen on the order of years rather than long decades and is sure to bring correspondingly huge
- I'm not entirely sure that telecommunication would replace travel altogether. As we become a civilization which inhabits this entire star system rather than just one planet, the distances get... pretty mind-boggling, from our current perspective. Assuming that the transfer rate and cost of data is inversely proportional to the distance involved (something which has always been historically true), there will still be a need to physically move your post-singularity intelligence from one community to another. Plus, we can only divide the electromagnetic spectrum into so many channels.
- Not entirely clear on what you're asking here, but our political factions are bound to undergo a revolution in the way they
"There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum."
— Arthur C. Clarke
The hope being, I suppose, that there is simply so much unoccupied area and so many untouched resources in space that we hardly have excuses not to work out ideological differences in a peaceful manner. Being realistic though, we have to recognize the possibility for warfare to continue after the technological singularity. And I'm not so sure how we'd be able to survive conflict on such a tremendous, violent scale.