Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.


The technological singularity is defined to be the point in which technological progress is increasing at a rate that human level intelligence can no longer predict what will come next.

We are closer to that time than most people think.

There are a lot of technologies most people expect to happen that I don’t think will happen or, if they do happen, will be relevant for a startling short amount of time.

For example, strong AI.  My day programming job is AI (for games anyway). It’s been an abiding passion of mine for 20 years. But I don’t think we have to worry about a strong AI wiping out us mere mortals. If anything, strong AI and post-humans will evolve together and the lines between the two will be blurred.

When I use the term, Strong AI, I am really talking about an AI that is truly artificial (i.e. not modeled on our own intelligence).  That is the type of AI that I am skeptical occurring.  I know that Kurzweil believes this is inevitable but just like he (and I for that matter) believe that gene therapy is going to have a short life-span, I believe that artificial intelligence engines are going to have a short life-span, at least in the traditional envisioning of them. 

It's sort of like robots. There are lots of people who imagine the future is going to be filled with intelligent (sentient) robots.  I don't see this happening at all.  I think our technological progress is becoming so rapid that we'll bypass sentient robots as a solution to things just like we'll bypass long-term genetic therapy and long-term plans on moving human biologics around the solar system.

Instead, we'll simply keep extending more and more of "us" into "the cloud".  It won't happen overnight. I don't think we'll be doing any sort of intrusive inorganic conversion (i.e. I don't see us becoming Borg-like).  Eventually (and by eventually I really mean 25 years from now) most of what makes "us" us will be in the cloud at which point you could argue that this enhanced version of us is in effect, "AI" because we'll have vastly expanded our intelligence using artificial means.

I realize when we look at a fixed point in time -- 2013 -- what I say above may seem absurd to some.  But, then again, someone in 1813 would think the future we live in today would have been an absurd scenario.  We already are using artificial means to greatly expand our individual capabilities. 

Let’s look at 1813.

In 1813, homes were still primarily lit with candles (if you were rich, most people, if they lit their homes, did so with animal fat and other rather nasty stuff). Furniture, such as it was, was kept up against walls. The idea of having furniture in the middle of the room would be ridiculous (you'd trip on it in the dark all the time).  It wouldn't be until Whale Oil became common (the whale oil boom started in the 1700s) that lamps would start to become a wide-spread solution (again for the rich countries of the world) which led to kerosene and then gas and of course electrical lighting.

Today, in 2013, I can, from my person, turn on and off the steady, perfect, illumination in my home from across the world. I have control the temperature of my home from across the world. I can "command" my home to play movies on the television for guests even if I'm not at home (mind you, in 1813, the equivalent entertainment would be going to the theater to watch a live performance). Point being in 2013, an individual can command light, heat, cool, entertainment and more via their constructs (their tiny machines) from anywhere in the world. 

None of the above scenario required me to insert wires or electrodes into my body.

And I want to emphasize this: The pace of this progress is accelerating exponentially. That's why so many people have a rough time realizing that our dreams of a Star Trek future or one of robots or even a future where we're all genetically modified super beings will never come to pass because technology will outpace those inventions. They'll never have a chance to really get going.  We'll still have some of this stuff but they'll go the way of the telegraph except unlike the telegraph which lasted many decades, the things I mention above many only get a few years of spotlight before being passed on by.

In the time that this forum is likely to still exist, I predict (And we can refer back to this in another 10 years) that 10 years from now (and this forum is 12 years old already) that the idea of sending biological human beings to Mars will seem ridiculous to a lot of people, if not most people.

One more personal example of how our individual capabilities, enhanced via our machines, is trumping our "meat".  As some of you know, I'm an amateur astronomer. I've spent many thousands of dollars over the years on telescopes.  I still, for the kids and such, will haul out one of my smaller ones to show them Jupiter or Saturn.  But that's about it.  Why? Because today, I can simply take control of a robotic telescope in an observatory somewhere in the world (like the Canary Islands) and look at the sky with that.  Why would I futz with a 14 inch telescope (if you've ever used a large non-permanent positioned telescope you know what I mean) when I can "see" the same thing with a much better telescope?

And we're just beginning.  Aug Glasses are coming (Google glass being a primitive example), Aug Chairs an when they figure out how to connect our "meat" inputs to the cloud in a way that is culturally acceptable, we'll have Aug us and at that point, the singularity will be upon us.

on Jul 08, 2013

Sadly, using D&D analogy...

This means people will have gear that provides +5 intelligence (so the average score is now 13-16) but the 8-11 wisdom remains untouched.

We're in for some good times...