Daily Archives: June 25th, 2009

Some Singularity News

The meme of a technological singularity is gaining mainstream acceptance.

To that point here are some startling developments that claim the technological singularity might not be so much science fiction in a few short years.


Imagine a future where engineers build a computer with greater-than-human intelligence. This hyper-intelligent being expands its knowledge and brainpower exponentially over days and weeks as it learns how to improve on its own hardware and software design. It starts building ‘offspring’ even smarter than itself.

The sudden arrival of these offspring – cheap, mass-produced super-intelligent machines – sparks explosive economic growth, triggering a series of cascading events.

THEY base their predictions on the fact that technology is advancing fast – the processing power of computers doubles every two years. If this continues at current rates, then machines will surpass the processing capacity of the human brain sometime between 2030 and 2040.

Once a computer becomes aware, it will be able to improve on itself faster than any human designer, ushering in advances in a single decade that would have taken humans thousands of years of discovery and experimentation. Technological development will leap off the charts, becoming so rapid that we cannot possibly imagine the results.

It’s been called the ‘geek rapture’ – an allusion to the belief among some Christians that, at the end of the world, they’ll be whisked directly to heaven in a process termed ‘the rapture’.

Tipping Point?


Whoever said that the technological singularity is so much fantasy, nobody has bothered to tell the US government’s DoD Tech Arm DARPA yet:

In anticipation of a potential program on the topic of Physical intelligence (PI), DARPA is hosting two Proposers’ Day Workshops that will provide critical information on the program vision, the milestones, and opportunities associated with the development of interdisciplinary teams to respond to an anticipated Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The Physical Intelligence program aspires to understand intelligence as a physical phenomenon and to make the first demonstration of the principle in electronic and chemical systems. A central tenet is that intelligence spontaneously evolves as a consequence of thermodynamics in open systems. The program plan is organized around three interrelated task areas: (1) creating a theory (a mathematical formalism) and validating it in natural and engineered systems; (2) building the first human-engineered systems that display physical intelligence in the form of abiotic, self-organizing electronic and chemical systems; and (3) developing analytical tools to support the design and understanding of physically intelligent systems. If successful, the program would launch a revolution of understanding across many fields of human endeavor, demonstrate the first intelligence engineered from first principles, create new classes of electronic, computational, and chemical systems, and create tools to engineer intelligent systems that match the problem/environment in which they will exist. Concepts relevant to the objectives of the Physical Intelligence program can be found in numerous disciplines and areas of research including statistical physics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, dissipative systems, group theory, collective behavior, complexity theory, consciousness theory, non-linear dynamical systems, complex adaptive systems, systems analysis, multi-scale modeling, control systems, information theory, computation theory, topology, electronics, evolutionary computation, cellular automata, artificial life, origin of life, microbiology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary chemistry, neuropsychology, neurophysiology, brain modeling, organizational behavior, operations research and others.

If the DoD believes there’s something to it and willing to invest taxpayer dollars, well, you get the picture…

Physical Intelligence


Fermi Paradox? Feh. It’s because some alien civilizations could be exploring the galaxy ‘sustainably’:


The Fermi Paradox cannot logically conclude that humans are the only intelligent

civilization in the galaxy. This is due to the Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox

presented here: the absence of ETI observation can be explained by the possibility that

exponential growth is not a sustainable development pattern for intelligent civilizations. Thus,

the Paradox can only conclude that other intelligent civilizations have not sustained exponential

growth patterns throughout the galaxy. It is still possible that slower-growth ETI civilizations

exist but have not expanded rapidly enough to be easily detectable by the searches humans have

yet made. It is also possible that faster-growth ETI civilizations previously expanded throughout

the galaxy but could not sustain this state, collapsing in a way that whatever artifacts they might

have left have also remained undetected. Both of these growth patterns can be observed in

human civilization, suggesting that they may be possible for ETI civilizations as well.

The Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox has practical implications for both the

search for extraterrestrial life and human civilization management. In the search for

extraterrestrial life, the Sustainability Solution allows that slower-growth ETI civilizations may

still transmit radio or other signals. Furthermore, ambitions such as Solar System SETI may

eventually discover extraterrestrial messenger probes residing in the asteroid belt and other

stellar orbits. For human civilization management, the Sustainability Solution increases the

likelihood that human civilization needs to transition towards sustainable development in order

to avoid its own collapse.


I could buy that, but it throws the Kardashev Scale of Civilizations out the window.

Come to think of it, so does the Technological Singularity!

The Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox