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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

The singularity hits the mainstream

Last week,at the Intel developer forum, Justin Rattner did everything but speak the S-word. From the intel press release:

Justin Rattner, during his keynote today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, predicted big changes are ahead in social interactions, robotics and improvements in computer’s ability to sense the real world. He said Intel’s research labs are already looking at human-machine interfaces and examining future implications to computing with some promising changes coming much sooner than expected.

“The industry has taken much greater strides than anyone ever imagined 40 years ago,” Rattner said. “There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future.”

So, there you have it – depending on your take of things, this is either very good news- executive level people now understand the importance of singularity research, and so the resources to get this happening will come to bear – or very bad news – executive level people now understand the importance of singularity research and so will rape and pillage their way through it as is often their wont. (I’m kidding, of course).

But one thing we can take away from this: if Intel is expressing interest, others will take note. I can see the bumper sticker already – The Singularity: Not Just Talked About By Crazy People Any More. And, if others are taking note, this could foster the resources to develop in manners that futurists have only been dreamed of so far: the development of a manhattan project scale effort to resolve the many issues at hand.

Then again, in some ways, that may make my earlier joke somewhat less humourous, since, with the definition of a ‘bad singularity’ being the rate of change getting out of our control, speeding up our development towards it, with a specifically capitalist perspective in mind, may be the last thing we need. There are not necessarily going to be the opportunities for us to recitfiy our errors as we have in regards to previous technologies, such nuclear power and environmental destruction.

But if the captains of industry don’t do this, who will? The government? Sadly, I find this unlikely to happen in the U.S, which feels like it is inexorably moving towards a Mike Judge’s depressingly prescient Idiocracy (if you haven’t seen this yet, you really should. Really.). China? Shudder. Europe? Might as well call it the 51st state.

So, let’s hope that the right people get behind this. And that means that the right people go to the Singularity Summit happening in October.

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