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tonybaloney
2008-Oct-13, 07:02 PM
Is there any indication that the earth and it's inhabitants are going to reach a "Technology Singularity", in which our technology reaches a point where we reach a Type I civilization (civilization that can harness all of the energy available for the single planet), any time in the next 50-100 years? If so, what will this mean for the generations that will be alive to experience it?

alainprice
2008-Oct-13, 07:03 PM
The answer is no.

cosmocrazy
2008-Oct-13, 07:15 PM
Is there any indication that the earth and it's inhabitants are going to reach a "Technology Singularity", in which our technology reaches a point where we reach a Type I civilization (civilization that can harness all of the energy available for the single planet), any time in the next 50-100 years? If so, what will this mean for the generations that will be alive to experience it?

What exactly do you mean by "technology singularity" ?

At what point would you say that any civilization has reached an infinite point in technology? Never would be my personal opinion. At this point would be to know the mind of God.

We can only hope that humankind will become advanced enough to harness or tap into the energy of the surrounding galaxy, so as to avoid extinction. :) thats provided we last long enough to do so...:cry:

tonybaloney
2008-Oct-13, 07:15 PM
Thank you for your very thorough answer, alainprince. That is all I really wanted to know.

But for real though, I have recently begun reading a ton of books regarding the universe and Theories of Everything, etc. and I have run across this idea of a technology singularity due to the nature of the technology acceleration that has been occuring.

I am not exactly sure what I mean by "technology singularity" cosmocrazy. I have just read several times that due to the great acceleration that we are exponentially growing toward an asymptote if you look at the history of relative technological advances. If we do reach the point of knowing "the mind of God" as this denotes, what will that mean? If we reach that point without destroying ourselves, why would we continue from Type I to above, Type II and Type III?

Thanks in advance to anyone that can discuss this a little with me as this is the first post I have made to this forum and I am tired and frustrated of not having anyone to discuss all of this stuff that is flying around in my head. I am no expert in anything but I have realized that there just arent many people out there who have as much of an interest in these topics (except maybe here).

01101001
2008-Oct-13, 07:19 PM
Welcome to BAUT Forum.


Is there any indication that the earth and it's inhabitants are going to reach a "Technology Singularity" [...]

You may wish to read previous BAUT Forum topics about that sort of singularity, such as:

Can someone please give me the divinitive answer about this? (http://www.bautforum.com/against-mainstream/14633-can-someone-please-give-me-divinitive-answer-about.html#post322239) article and forward
Approaching the Singularity (http://www.bautforum.com/questions-answers/25202-approaching-singularity.html)
The Singularity & Friends (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/45504-singularity-friends.html)
Ray Kurzweil: Immortality within 15 years. (http://www.bautforum.com/space-exploration/68456-ray-kurzweil-immortality-within-15-years.html)
The evolution of technology (http://www.bautforum.com/life-space/77596-evolution-technology.html)

(And if anyone really wants to get into another discussion of this singularity, I ask that you respect the section chosen for the topic, and keep it focused on what fits -- currently, that is Questions and Answers's space and astronomy flavor.)

Edit: For those ufamiliar, a survey of the matter might be had, in addition to in the topics above, at Wikipedia: Technological singularity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity).

Swift
2008-Oct-13, 07:32 PM
I have read a little about the idea but am far from an expert. The wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity)actually seems like a pretty good summary, of both the pros and cons.

I'm very unconvinced. It seems problematic to just extrapolate from past events and some of the authors of this idea seem mostly focused on AI, which may or may not happen (the world is filled with problems that turned out to be more difficult than the extrapolation would imply).

The last thing is that the graph in the wikipedia article goes back billions of years. I suspect the statistics of a fit are not good and while we might be "close" to such an event, the precision of that fit is probably not +/- 50 years. Close might 100 or 1000 years from now.

tonybaloney
2008-Oct-13, 07:43 PM
The more I read about this type of subject and its implications - be it AI or reaching a higher level of consciousness - the more I feel an instinct that tells me that it will happen in our lifetime. The more I read regarding this subject, however, the more I feel like a lunatic due to the implications of this technological advancement.


Do you think an idea like this will hit the world media anytime soon and gain a huge following for the case of obtaining "mind of God" with technological background instead of religious?

01101001
2008-Oct-13, 07:50 PM
Do you think an idea like this will hit the world media anytime soon and gain a huge following for the case of obtaining "mind of God" with technological background instead of religious?

Space and astronomy for Q&A please.

tonybaloney
2008-Oct-13, 07:57 PM
Sorry that was my original intent. I got a little sidetracked with the whole "mind of God" thing.

But back to where I was heading with all of the technology singularity ideas, by drawing upon Fermi, it seems that if it were possible for us to reach such a singularity, then some other civilizations would have done so most likely already.

Could something such as the most recent detection of the supernova that produced a series of some 40 flashes or some other phenomenon not be an indication that we are overlooking?

nauthiz
2008-Oct-13, 08:05 PM
I'm skeptical simply because futurists tend to have an even worse track record than economic forecasters.

01101001
2008-Oct-13, 09:58 PM
Could something such as the most recent detection of the supernova that produced a series of some 40 flashes or some other phenomenon not be an indication that we are overlooking?

Could it? Sure. Is it likely? I don't think so, because I'd expect far better communication skills from the big-brains who crossed beyond their own technological singularity.

It could just as well be some yahoos celebrating, say, an intergalatic marriage in their own low-class way. Better than shooting off rifles.

I don't see a reason to change my plans for tomorrow, until someone pulls some signal out of that clumsy-looking carrier.

Noclevername
2008-Oct-14, 12:10 AM
Since "singularity" just means the point at which developments become unpredictable, I've heard it reasonably said that the technological singularity already happened in the late 1800s, we're just now starting to notice the effects. No reason to assume it'll lead to any one particular thing though-- that is, after all, the nature of a singularity, that we can't see what's on the other side.

cjameshuff
2008-Oct-14, 03:41 AM
Since "singularity" just means the point at which developments become unpredictable, I've heard it reasonably said that the technological singularity already happened in the late 1800s, we're just now starting to notice the effects. No reason to assume it'll lead to any one particular thing though-- that is, after all, the nature of a singularity, that we can't see what's on the other side.

I've heard a convincing argument that the rise of agriculture was a singularity. It allowed population concentrations and social group sizes to grow to scales nomadic hunter-gatherers would have difficulty comprehending, which in turn had effects they couldn't have ever predicted.

timb
2008-Oct-14, 04:44 AM
Technological developments have always been unpredictable. Who predicted the wheel, the recurved bow or the telescope?

thorkil2
2008-Oct-14, 04:59 AM
Technological developments have always been unpredictable. Who predicted the wheel, the recurved bow or the telescope?

Yet notice the Serviss thread in Small Media. I haven't read his books yet, but reports of what he predicts in them are fascinating, if they are, in fact, from that time. Always a grain of salt. There is the story of the man who predicted the sinking of the Titanic in a novel years before it happened, but he is known to have modified later editions to make the description fit the incident more precisely.

filrabat
2008-Oct-14, 05:28 AM
Rates of increase. Extrapolation from the past into the future is a pretty good method if the same pattern continues into the future indefinitely. But WILL it continue into the future indefinitely? I don't think so, if only because the amount of energy available in the universe if finite.

cjameshuff
2008-Oct-14, 01:56 PM
Technological developments have always been unpredictable. Who predicted the wheel, the recurved bow or the telescope?

The difference being that the telescope, recurved bow, and even the wheel didn't have the massive impact that agriculture did. "Better bows" are something that could have been predicted, but agriculture led to cities, nations, empires, a wide variety of different styles of government, the vast majority of the populace working on things other than directly obtaining food, the results of that labor, and many other changes to society.

And no, it won't continue indefinitely, at best being limited by finite energy and material availability, and finite speed of light, and probably by something far more immediate, like the ability of society to pick up innovations. Which isn't to say there aren't interesting times coming...

mugaliens
2008-Oct-14, 03:21 PM
Is there any indication that the earth and it's inhabitants are going to reach a "Technology Singularity", in which our technology reaches a point where we reach a Type I civilization (civilization that can harness all of the energy available for the single planet), any time in the next 50-100 years? If so, what will this mean for the generations that will be alive to experience it?

I will say that it's entirely possible we may discover/develop a new way to harness energy that would allow us to do so.


Technological developments have always been unpredictable. Who predicted the wheel, the recurved bow or the telescope?

And inventions are often made possible by seemingly unrelated capabilities. By the time Edison first pulled a vacuum on his lightbulb, we'd known for more than 100 years that electricity can make a filament glow, as well as how to pull a vacuum.

The light bulb was the merger of these seemingly unrelated technologies.


The answer is no.

I would qualify that with "using our current technologies." As per the examples, we may one day find that bombarding a bose-einstein condensate with gamma rays causes a complete reversion to pure energy. Or perhaps it's the pickle that was dropped in the mix. Who knows?

Cougar
2008-Oct-14, 04:02 PM
I have recently begun reading a ton of books regarding the universe and Theories of Everything, etc. and I have run across this idea of a technology singularity due to the nature of the technology acceleration that has been occuring.

I expect such "acceleration" will not simply proceed linearly or even exponentially but will follow a period-doubling bifurcating evolution, a progression discovered by Mitchell Feigenbaum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Feigenbaum) back in 1975.

Keep reading, Tony! Suggested next book: Chaos, Making a new science (http://www.around.com/chaos.html) by James Gleick.

Cougar
2008-Oct-14, 04:08 PM
Suggested next book: Chaos, Making a new science (http://www.around.com/chaos.html) by James Gleick.

And if you've read that, I'd suggest Complexity, The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos by M. Mitchell Waldrop. This review (http://www.tnellen.com/ted/tc/complexity.html) says....



Complex systems have somehow found a way to acquire the ability to bring order and chaos into balance. The edge of chaos is where new ideas and innovations are forever nibbling on the status quo. The edge of chaos is the constantly shifting battle zone between stagnation and anarchy, the one place where a complex system can be spontaneous, adaptive, and alive. Complexity, adaptation, upheavals on the edge of chaos gave birth to the Santa Fe Institute and the science of the 21st Century.

tonybaloney
2008-Oct-14, 05:35 PM
Thanks for everyone's recommendations, links, etc. and sorry for my bit of scatter-brained questions. I am having a hard time getting my questions out as I really have not spoken with anyone who is versed on these such questions and reading material and is as intelligent as those responding.

The more reading I do on this subject and others the more I feel like I am falling into the proverbial rabbit hole as I think these subjects are amazing. It feels like a passion within me and that I need to keep learning.

For those of you that seem so well informed about these subjects and others, can you give me any guidance to your approaches and how you have gotten to where you are now? Right now I am haphazardly reading anything that is recommended to me, but I could use some direction.

I am a young electrical engineer that has switched careers recently into tech sales but I would love to be on the cutting edge of learning about this technology accelaration and proliferation into the universe. What options are there for me?

Also, another on topic question: although there are many proponents that say that there is no acceleration and may be in fact the opposite, I think there are undoubtedly far more people in todays developed societies that are constantly searching for new ideas and new inventions, etc. I feel that in the past that most people were content to just work at a steady job and provide for their families and only a few inventors creating airplanes, lightbulbs, etc and many of which were accidental inventions. Nowadays I feel as if there are more people looking for new ideas to revolutionize the world. I think the overall question is - where are we heading with technology? Is it a hybrid human-AI world that colonizes the solar system, etc? Also, if we already know that we must push into space and colonization to survive as a species, why are we not pushing harder to do so? If we can stay alive during all of these advances, where would it ultimately lead? Will we ever just be able to sit back and say "there isnt anything else to do", or "i am content just staying on earth and planting a garden"?

Thanks in advance as I am humbled by reading some of the posts and responses on this forum.

Ara Pacis
2008-Oct-14, 10:53 PM
I've heard that a technological singularity is relative to the understanding of those who came before. Thus, we have had several. The next one may be immortality. This will have an interesting effect on spaceflight. Long term missions to other stars will become possible. But the ability to live forever may make people hesitant to take risks.

Noclevername
2008-Oct-17, 11:04 PM
I've heard that a technological singularity is relative to the understanding of those who came before. Thus, we have had several. The next one may be immortality. This will have an interesting effect on spaceflight. Long term missions to other stars will become possible. But the ability to live forever may make people hesitant to take risks.

Rather call it "reduced mortality", since it'll likely be developed by degrees over time. Extended life, then innate regeneration, then distributed neral networks in a nanomorph body...

As for risktaking, some will choose to remain unmodified. Others will no doubt choose a lesser degree of metamortality-- a basically human body with nanorepair or something, meaning their instincts and thought patterns will remain essentially the same, so risktaking will continue albeit at a slightly reduced average.

timb
2008-Oct-17, 11:28 PM
I expect such "acceleration" will not simply proceed linearly or even exponentially but will follow a period-doubling bifurcating evolution, a progression discovered by Mitchell Feigenbaum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Feigenbaum) back in 1975.

If the period doubled wouldn't the rate of change decrease? if you doubled the period of, say, Mercury, it would be moving considerably slower.

mugaliens
2008-Oct-19, 11:35 AM
For those of you that seem so well informed about these subjects and others, can you give me any guidance to your approaches and how you have gotten to where you are now? Right now I am haphazardly reading anything that is recommended to me, but I could use some direction.

Fear. It's a useful tool, keeping you from harm. Misplaced, however, it's a leash.

Fear is the product of millions of years of evolution designed to keep us from either being harmed by our environment, or becoming something, or someone else's dinner. In modern society, however, it's often misplaced, as we fear losing a job, or fear losing a secure job in search for the position of our dreams. If we ever find ourselves in a position of our dreams, we often lose it, as that position requires a somewhat fearless approach to decision-making which few people posess, let alone, have cultivated.

In preparation for your next job, have you considered skydiving? It's a wonderful catalyst in separating healthy fears from unhealthy ones. The kind of fear which motivates us to master the various procedures and techniques used in skydiving which minimize risk and maximize enjoyment is a healthy fear.

The kind of fear which prompts you to avoid skydiving altogether because of risk of injury or death may or may not be, a healthy fear. It's healthy only if there's truly nothing involved in skydiving that would help make you a better person. If it keeps you from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it's an unhealthy fear.

Complementary with this, however, is knowledge, comprehension, and wisdom. I could write a book, but will suffice to say that fearless action without regard to these three is foolishness, and could get you hurt, or killed. Most adventurers/explorers, however, exist on the edge of their knowledge and comprehension, staying just this side of the safe zone - and that is wisdom, knowing where that boundary lies.

It's a scary world out there. Moving towards that point where we truly begin living is a frightening thing. It's good of you to be asking questions, but don't become the academic who knows everything about stepping out and exploring new horizens, except how that actually feels because you've never actually done it. Rather, do gain knowledge, but combine that, right now, today, with experience, by doing.


I am a young electrical engineer that has switched careers recently into tech sales but I would love to be on the cutting edge of learning about this technology accelaration and proliferation into the universe. What options are there for me?

I'd set up appointments to visit companies/labs around youthat are currently working on the cutting edges. Interview key people in those organizations. Talk to people who're doing the work - find out how they got there.

Then, go do it.


Also, another on topic question: although there are many proponents that say that there is no acceleration and may be in fact the opposite...

I'm not sure what era they're living in... Certainly not this one.


I think there are undoubtedly far more people in todays developed societies that are constantly searching for new ideas and new inventions, etc. I feel that in the past that most people were content to just work at a steady job and provide for their families and only a few inventors creating airplanes, lightbulbs, etc and many of which were accidental inventions. Nowadays I feel as if there are more people looking for new ideas to revolutionize the world.

I don't feel the percentage mix has changed a bit. The ratio of explorers to wannabees is the same. I believe the barriers to exploration have been significantly reduced, to the point where some people explore the world, or portions thereof, from their armchairs/office chairs.

Furthermore, information has proliferated at an ever-increasing rate. But what to do with all that information? Until recently we tucked it into the libraries of various universities. Over the last decade, much of that information has been dusted off and recycled into the Internet.

The Internet itself has spawned what are, in my opinion, the two most crucial technologies out there on top of which a third technology will soon emerge.

The first is the smart search engine, aka Google, which employs a small, but good bit of AI to ensure that the answer to that which you seek will be found at one of the top five links which appear. By and large, they're getting it right, provided the user is keen to use correct Boolean prose to qualify their search.

The second is the smart collection of ideas known as Wikipedia. Leveraging the Internet, Wikipedia has accomplished a thousand times more than what all other encyclopedias combined have failed to accomplish in the last 100 years, and in doing do, it proved two points: First, most people on the cutting edge are reckless rogues who posses a bit of knowledge, but for whom the dream overrides all. Second, that given an inferior, error-ridden product that nevertheless has a lot of potential, the real experts will come out of the woodwork to make the necessary corrections to get that product on track.

In these two examples, we see that ever-present paradigm shift from custom, hand-made, to automation.

Google took the algorithms of the best data researchers and automated that into their search engine so that the average user had the same power to sift through a world of data.

Wikipedia took the very costly process of assembling an encyclopedia and spread it out over many thousands of times more laborers such that the result is far more vast than any previous encyclopedia, and it's constantly being revised and added to in near real-time.

The third phase doesn't have a name, as it hasn't happened yet. Oh, there are potential contenders, but none have made it to the forefront, yet.

What the next product will do is emulate, or be combined with, something like this bulletin board, whose users make use of tools such as Wikipedia and Google to answer questions. There's a LOT of AI and many and varied algorithms involved, so this next task won't be easy.

When it's done, however, it will be an artificial interactive construct through which people from ages 0 until the end will be able to interact, learn, exercise, and contribute. It may very well become self-aware, and if we give it too much control, it may very well wrest control from us. Whether the result is Terminator, The Matrix, or AI, remains to be seen. That computers are becoming an ever-increasing part of our lives is inarguable, as there is so much we can do on a computer that we could never do before.

I have a friend (actually, the son of some friends) who was pulled from High School in 9th grade due to ADD. He finished high school using a program on CDs and the Internet, hammered his way through an online collegiate program, studying music, used the Internet to learn and mast many guitar techniques, and now he and his band of 7 years who've been touring the states are making their first touring trip throughout the EU next year.

All via a computer, attached to the Internet.


I think the overall question is - where are we heading with technology? Is it a hybrid human-AI world that colonizes the solar system, etc?

See above. Also, we need a faster interface than the keyboard. In high school I could type 40 wpm (barely, with the maximum errors). Just last night I did a 5-min test (certified, accredited), and my best was 72 wpm with 98% accuracy. It's still way too slow, though, as I can talk about 400 wpm, and can easily think at 200 wpm.

However, one advantage of typing is that I can think that much longer, harder, and deeper about that which I'm typing, organizing on the fly, such that the result is nearly a finished product. While I can speak extemporaneously, my written communication is better, and the artificial restriction of typing speed does provide for a better end product.

As for space exploration, I envision it will soon become a tri-level experience:

Level 1: Command - Initiation and override authority. Ability to extend and retract all other authorities. Will reside with the JPL or other originating office with reporting responsibility to those who issue funds.

Level 2: Control - Ability to interact with, and limited control of the mission. Extended to larger groups of accedited users who've demonstrated their abilities and responsibilities. Program may involve consensus with veto, but will be subject to command override at any time.

Level 3: Experience - No command or control ability. "Along for the ride," as they say. Can choose what they're experiencing. We largely have that, now, with the various websites out there which we can surf at a moment's notice and view images, read reports, and BAUT, on which we can discuss these missions.

What will change, over time, is the way we interface with these. I do anticipate an increase in audio-visual technology which will allow us greater ability to manipulate information before us.

toothdust
2008-Oct-21, 04:20 AM
Well first off a technological singularity doesn't have much to do with Michio Kaku's Type I civilization. A Type I is still pretty technologically infant compared to a Type II or beyond.

I think that a singularity can be interpreted as a point where our technology becomes so advanced, that we are simply able to overcome time itself, becoming more or less immortal beings/consciousness.

ASEI
2008-Oct-21, 09:26 AM
Is there any indication that the earth and it's inhabitants are going to reach a "Technology Singularity", in which our technology reaches a point where we reach a Type I civilization (civilization that can harness all of the energy available for the single planet), any time in the next 50-100 years? If so, what will this mean for the generations that will be alive to experience it?

What do you mean by all the energy available to the planet? If we convert the mass of the planet into energy, that would be a lot more than we could possibly use at the moment (and then we would be down a planet, but I imagine it would look pretty cool in the far ultraviolet! (Mad scientist laugh))

-----

I'm not that skeptical that we should be able to create weak AIs with just a little more investment. We know how neurons work, we know how to implement them in a simulation, and we've had great success doing so so far. Strong AIs that have human-like reasoning ability are a little more complicated - crawl before you run!

And in the limit, you might be able to create vaster minds, but what more can you accomplish with them than with human scale minds? There are some possibilities to superhuman intelligence, but there are also many cases where computational power isn't the limiting factor.

Example: No matter how much computing power you dump into a task, you still won't be able to do things like predict the weather two weeks from now, or predict the actions of small or large groups of people over long periods of time (sorry Asimov). Even the modelling of turbulent flow over a flat plate requires extremely refined grids, and doesn't scale well. We use fudge factors and empirical inserts to deal with these phenomena today.

And once you have minds capable of processing arbitrary chains of abstraction, whether they can do so faster or slower, with or without the aid of external paging memory, such as books and calculators, it's not a qualitative difference, merely a quantitative difference in capability. Both human thought, and the thought of any superhuman intelligence are presumably turing complete abstraction processors.

Not that the possibility of greater-than-average intelligence should be underestimated, but we should also recognize the limitations. "And then magic happens" is not a very good prediction.

PS - though given the quality of our usual predictions of the future, it's hard to compare.

Cougar
2008-Oct-21, 03:03 PM
If the period doubled wouldn't the rate of change decrease?

No, the next period doubling comes quicker. Check out the bifurcation diagram on this page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_map) As Feigenbaum found, remarkably, the ratio of the difference between the values at which such successive period-doubling bifurcations occur tends to a constant of around 4.6692.

John Mendenhall
2008-Oct-21, 05:23 PM
Who knows?



True. The next technology revolution may be something we thought would . . . Neverfly.

Regards, John M.