Daily Archives: April 30th, 2009

More Singularity Critiques

Remember what I said yesterday about the Google-Plex developing sentience? It’s not just conspiracy ranting y’know!:

In engineering terms, it is easy to see qualitative similarities between the human brain and the internet’s complex network of nodes, as they both hold, process, recall and transmit information. “The internet behaves a fair bit like a mind,” says Ben Goertzel, chair of the Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute, an organisation inevitably based in cyberspace. “It might already have a degree of consciousness”.

Not that it will necessarily have the same kind of consciousness as humans: it is unlikely to be wondering who it is, for instance. To Francis Heylighen, who studies consciousness and artificial intelligence at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium, consciousness is merely a system of mechanisms for making information processing more efficient by adding a level of control over which of the brain’s processes get the most resources. “Adding consciousness is more a matter of fine-tuning and increasing control… than a jump to a wholly different level,” Heylighen says.

How might this manifest itself? Heylighen speculates that it might turn the internet into a self-aware network that constantly strives to become better at what it does, reorganising itself and filling gaps in its own knowledge and abilities.

Now, you can go to the website Ignorance Is Futile right now and see how the blog owner has done quite a bit of research into the Google distributed network; from DARPA’s involvement to Sergei Brin’s stated goals.

These people want to trigger a Technological Singularity.

Is that wise?

Read and decide for yourselves.

Could the net become self-aware?



Hear’s more on Ray Kurzweil, Transcendent Man:

* Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. Magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries. As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Ray’s web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers. Among Ray’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world’s largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame , established by the US Patent Office. He has received sixteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. Ray has written five books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.

Again, H/T


Speaking of Google, check this out:

Real-time web search – which scours only the latest updates to services like Twitter – is currently generating quite a buzz because it can provide a glimpse of what people around the world are thinking or doing at any given moment. Interest in this kind of search is so great that, according to recent leaks, Google is considering buying Twitter. (emphasis mine)

The latest research from the internet search giant, though, suggests that real-time results could be even more powerful – they may reveal the future as well as the present.

Google researchers Hyunyoung Choi and Hal Varian combined data from Google Trends on the popularity of different search terms with models used by economists to predict trends in areas such as travel and home sales. The result? Better forecasts in almost every case.

Projected sales of cars and vehicle parts, for example, can be extrapolated from the figures for the previous month and this time last year, but adding in the volume of automobile-related search queries to the model cut the error rate by 15%.

Now you can take this info for what it’s worth and decide if you think Google is going to be the tool to bring about a Singularity Event, or that it’s just conspiracy theory-woo-woo crap.

Now IMHO if a Technological Singularity is going to occur, by its very nature and definition no-one is going to be able to tell beyond the level it might attain, or predict, let alone control how it might come to pass, if it happens at all.

If one looks at the past 150 years, after the American Civil War to the present, you can see how our world came into being, with the roots in the fertile death-grounds of post-1865.

Everything we have now stems from the Civil War tragedy.

A person can look upon that as a kind of slow “Singularity.”

And I think that’s how it’s going to continue to be, whether it’s managed by human beings or not.

How your search queries can predict the future

Yes, the Hat Tip is here, LOL!