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Thread: Kurzweil on 2010

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel emits View Post
    an almost mystical faith in technology
    Science is the new religion.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by the undisputed truth View Post
    I think that comes from the implication that it aint gonna come cheap so theres gonna be a lot of deadweight in the form of the poor and distressed.
    Where is the humanity?

    "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind"

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by adruu View Post
    Kurzweil has estimated ubiquitous everyday nanotech as being fully mature at 2010, including a COMPLETE brains able to be reverse engineered by 2020. retina embedded computers, full immersion VR, cured diabetes, breathing underwater(!), everyone sprinting...
    In terms of timing, that's just straight up crazy. "Mature" as in stable and easily usable by the general public in four years, when there's not a single instance of an even unstable, hard to use application of nanotech on the market today? I sometimes think Kurzweil has never actually tried to build a single piece of technology from the ground up and realized how hard engineering and design can be. And reverse engineering the brain, oh man...we still don't even have a single decent automatic language translator. There are so many big hurdles still to overcome along that road.

    As for the technology==progress==good issue, I somewhat agree with undisputed, that we have to make the best of a shitty situation here and try to steer the development of new technology towards as positive a role as possible (which is hard when DARPA has funded pretty much every major technological advance in the last century or so). At least, that's how I justify my own work within this field!

  4. #19
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    also the religion vs. technology dichotomy is pretty BS. apples and oranges, plus there's a whole lot of other fruit involved.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleep View Post
    Where is the humanity?
    We're shedding it like snake skin to reveal the new flesh of circuitry. Of course that will require a new sense of morality and a massive intellectual evolutionary step to even fathom the cosnequences but as much as we would like, there is just no u turn. We either solve the energy problem before the fossil fuels run out and we become as the dionsuars or we get off planet battlestar galatica style and colonise another planet.

  6. #21
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    Kurzweil is a really interesting guy, and clearly has a brain the size of at least 5 very large rooms. But processing power only gets you so far, and he's proof positive that logic doesn't operate in a political or philosophical vacuum.

    To be sure, his prognoses always operate on a ridiculously short timeline. But my main problem with him is that he sells humanity so short. It seems that, for him, sentience is just a by-product of advanced processing power; but I'd say that it's highly signicant that computers are no closer to self-awareness than they were in Babbage's time.

    Computers are still just dumb machines. Anything they do, they do because someone has told them to. It's certainly very easy to be seduced by a calculator's ability to do resolve comples mathematical equations, but it would be more truthful to marvel at the programmer's ingenuity in instructing it how to do so.

    But then, people have always been willing to be seduced by the illusion of mechanical intelligence.

    I find it stange for someone like Kurzweil, given his background, to fall into this trap, but whenever I hear him speak about the singularity, I see him going for it head first.

    Simon Schaffer writes about all this stuff, and more, with more clarity and insight than I will ever muster

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunt View Post
    It seems that, for him, sentience is just a by-product of advanced processing power; but I'd say that it's highly signicant that computers are no closer to self-awareness than they were in Babbage's time.
    Maybe not. Maybe there is a tipping point of complexity, like those phase-shifts in chaotic systems where things spontaneously restabilise on a higher level of organisation. I think Kurzweil writes about complexity theory in The Age of Spiritual Machines IIRC. It's well hip at the moment along with emergence theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence) and I think that's partly where he's coming from. See also Teilhard de Chardin and his Noosphere (www?) which he talks about as becoming self aware upon reaching a certain level of complexity.

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  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel emits View Post
    See also Teilhard de Chardin and his Noosphere (www?) which he talks about as becoming self aware upon reaching a certain level of complexity.
    Ah, yes. The Noosphere. But to be honest, this is exactly what I mean about logic not operating in a vacuum.

    The Noosphere/web compaisons just reinforce my suspicion that people are always willing to appropriate old ideas and remix them for a contemporary audience. There's no empirical evidence to support it. As with the coming of the Noosphere, the notion of 'the network' achieving self-awareness is always posited as being just around the corner. Hasta maņana! You'll be digging out some Erik Davis techgnostics next

    Kevin Kelly tried to resurrect the idea of the sentient network in the 10th anniversary edition of 'Wired' (last year?). I just think it's all smoke and mirrors. It sounds exciting, but ultimately serves to disassociate the tool from the operator; or, in other words, alienate the worker from the commodity

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel emits View Post
    Awesome movie.

    Waaaaay freaky. That and The Medusa Touch totally blew my mind as a kid.

    (apols for the tangent)

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunt View Post
    It sounds exciting, but ultimately serves to disassociate the tool from the operator; or, in other words, alienate the worker from the commodity
    That sounds intriguing but I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean making self-awareness a product of material complexity makes humans less special?

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    Quote Originally Posted by blunt View Post
    Awesome movie.
    Yeah. Where's your wife right now Ray K? LOL

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunt View Post
    You'll be digging out some Erik Davis techgnostics next
    Erik Davis is well skeptical about all of this isn't he?

    Another fictional mindblower on both nanotech and strong AI is Greg Bear's Blood Music. Pretty haunting that one.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel emits View Post
    Erik Davis is well skeptical about all of this isn't he?
    Yeah, absolutely. Sorry, ambiguous (or maybe just poorly formed) sentence

    Great read, though. And I see on the Techgnosis website he writes...

    "TechGnosis peels away the utilitarian shell of technology to reveal the mystical and millennialist expectations that permeate the history of technology"

    ... which, again, summarises what I was trying to say about the Noosphere/web confusion with a little more brevity.

    The only Greg Bear I've read is Eon, but I suspect I was too young to really get it. My fave (fictional) book on nanotech is Stephenson's The Diamond Age. But there's also this, which is actually incredibly accessible, and one of the most thought-provoking books I think I've ever read.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by noel emits View Post
    That sounds intriguing but I'm not sure I follow. Do you mean making self-awareness a product of material complexity makes humans less special?
    No, I just mean that machines do what we tell them to; and as such, if a machine did attain self-awareness, it's likely to be because we told it how to (which in itself has all sorts of interesting implications).

    The Turing Test is a case in point. It's the thing that's always referenced as the definitive test of artificial intelligence. But the Turing Test is predicated on the illusion of intelligence. All that is required is that a human conduct a mediated conversation with, on the one hand, a machine and, on the other, a human operator; and not be able to distinguish which is which.

    Of course, this all points towards the question: how do you prove sentience? Which is a question that, to my mind, is impossible to answer definitively (which is not to say that it's pointless to try). And without the answer, I'd say creating a sentient being will continue to be a pretty tough brief.

    Does that make sense?

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