Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Avatars and Singularities

Here's something suggested by Shekhar as a very useful resource in thinking about global consciousness. http://www.avatarepc.com/index.html
The essence of it, from what I understood of our conversation this morning, seems to be about really 'feeling'. I hadn't heard of Harry Palmer before. I shall go and mug up. On the other hand Shekhar hadn't heard of Ray Kurzweil who's idea of the singularity seems very relevant to the thinking happening here at HP. http://sss.stanford.edu/
Shekhar thought I should just talk about the notion of the singularity in my talk on Monday, it's so relevant to HP Labs ethos. I'm not sure I have the balls to teach a bunch of mathematicians and engineers about exponential curves though...
Here's a bit of classic Ray I think is worth repeating:

"An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense 'intuitive linear' view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the twenty first century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The 'returns,' such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

"To describe these changes further, within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, overcoming pollution and poverty, providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses, “experience beaming,” and vastly enhanced human intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned. But all of this is just the precursor to the Singularity. Nonbiological intelligence will have access to its own design and will be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle. We’ll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that unenhanced human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will mark the Singularity."

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