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To: koan who wrote (59)9/20/2017 6:08:27 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 107
 
Can Futurists Predict the Year of the Singularity?

By Peter Rejcek
Singularity Hub
Mar 31, 2017



The end of the world as we know it is near. And that’s a good thing, according to many of the futurists who are predicting the imminent arrival of what’s been called the technological singularity.

The technological singularity is the idea that technological progress, particularly in artificial intelligence, will reach a tipping point to where machines are exponentially smarter than humans. It has been a hot topic of late.

Well-known futurist and Google engineer Ray Kurzweil (co-founder and chancellor of Singularity University) reiterated his bold prediction at Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival this month that machines will match human intelligence by 2029 (and has said previously the Singularity itself will occur by 2045). That’s two years before SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s prediction of 2047, made at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) earlier this year.

Author of the seminal book on the topic, The Singularity Is Near, Kurzweil said during the SXSW festival that “what’s actually happening is [machines] are powering all of us. …They’re making us smarter. They may not yet be inside our bodies, but by the 2030s, we will connect our neocortex, the part of our brain where we do our thinking, to the cloud.”

That merger of man and machine—sometimes referred to as transhumanism—is the same concept that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks about when discussing development of a neural lace. For Musk, however, an interface between the human brain and computers is vital to keep our species from becoming obsolete when the singularity hits.

Musk is also the driving force behind Open AI, a billion-dollar nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) is beneficial to humanity. AGI is another term for human-level intelligence. What most people refer to as AI today is weak or narrow artificial intelligence—a machine capable of “thinking” within a very narrow range of concepts or tasks.

Futurist Ben Goertzel, who among his many roles is chief scientist at financial prediction firm Aidyia Holdings and robotics company Hanson Robotics (and advisor to Singularity University), believes AGI is possible well within Kurzweil’s timeframe. The singularity is harder to predict, he says on his personal website, estimating the date anywhere between 2020 and 2100.

“Note that we might achieve human-level AGI, radical health-span extension and other cool stuff well before a singularity—especially if we choose to throttle AGI development rate for a while in order to increase the odds of a beneficial singularity,” he writes.

Meanwhile, billionaire Son of SoftBank, a multinational telecommunications and Internet firm based in Japan, predicts superintelligent robots will surpass humans in both number and brain power by 2047.

He is putting a lot of money toward making it happen. The investment arm of SoftBank, for instance, recently bankrolled $100 million in a startup called CloudMinds for cloud-connected robots, transplanting the “brain” from the machine to the cloud. Son is also creating the world’s biggest tech venture capitalist fund to the tune of $100 billion.

“I truly believe it’s coming, that’s why I’m in a hurry—to aggregate the cash, to invest,” he was quoted as saying at the MWC.

History of prediction

Kurzweil, Son, Goertzel and others are just the latest generation of futurists who have observed that humanity is accelerating toward a new paradigm of existence, largely due to technological innovation.

There were some hints that philosophers as early as the 19th century, during the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution, recognized that the human race was a species fast-tracked for a different sort of reality. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, when the modern-day understanding of the singularity first took form.

Mathematician John von Neumann had noted that “the ever-accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.”

In the 1960s, following his work with Alan Turing to decrypt Nazi communications, British mathematician I.J. Goode invoked the singularity without naming it as such.

He wrote, “Let an ultra-intelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultra-intelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind.”

Science fiction writer and retired mathematics and computer science professor Vernor Vinge is usually credited with coining the term “technological singularity.” His 1993 essay, The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era predicted the moment of technological transcendence would come within 30 years.

Vinge explains in his essay why he thinks the term “singularity”—in cosmology, the event where space-time collapses and a black hole forms—is apt: “It is a point where our models must be discarded and a new reality rules. As we move closer and closer to this point, it will loom vaster and vaster over human affairs till the notion becomes commonplace. Yet when it finally happens it may still be a great surprise and a greater unknown.”

Prediction an inexact scienceBut is predicting the singularity even possible?

A paper by Stuart Armstrong et al suggests such predictions are a best guess at most. A database compiled by the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), a nonprofit dedicated to social issues related to AGI, found 257 AI predictions from the period 1950-2012 in the scientific literature. Of these, 95 contained predictions giving timelines for AI development.

“The AI predictions in the database seem little better than random guesses,” the authors write. For example, the researchers found that “there is no evidence that expert predictions differ from those of non-experts.” They also observed a strong pattern that showed most AI prognostications fell within a certain “sweet spot”—15 to 25 years from the moment of prediction.

Others have cast doubt that the singularity is achievable in the time frames put forth by Kurzweil and Son.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and Institute of Artificial Intelligence, among other ventures, has written that such a technological leap forward is still far in the future.

“[I]f the singularity is to arrive by 2045, it will take unforeseeable and fundamentally unpredictable breakthroughs, and not because the Law of Accelerating Returns made it the inevitable result of a specific exponential rate of progress,” he writes, referring to the concept that past rates of progress can predict future rates as well.

Extinction or transcendence?

Futurist Nikola Danaylov, who manages the Singularity Weblog, says he believes a better question to ask is whether achieving the singularity is a good thing or a bad thing.

“Is that going to help us grow extinct like the dinosaurs or is it going to help us spread through the universe like Carl Sagan dreamed of?” he tells Singularity Hub. “Right now, it’s very unclear to me personally.”

Danaylov argues that the singularity orthodoxy of today largely ignores the societal upheavals already under way. The idea that “technology will save us” will not lift people out of poverty or extend human life if technological breakthroughs only benefit those with money, he says.

“I’m not convinced [the singularity is] going to happen in the way we think it’s going to happen,” he says. “I’m sure we’re missing the major implications, the major considerations.

“We have tremendous potential to make it a good thing,” he adds.

singularityhub.com

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (61)9/20/2017 11:58:28 AM
From: koan
   of 107
 
Thank you Glenn, that is the most important article I have read this year. I will repost it to my family and friends. A couple of comments I have about the coming singularity: All IMO.

1) It is pointless to argue whether the singularity is good or bad, it is coming and we cannot stop it, so we must prepare for it. And the only way to prepare is to better educate ourselves to understand increasing complex concepts. IMO we are greatly under educated i.e. the average person is capable of much more intellectual sophistication and the primary reason we have not pursued it is that our academic institutions have told us intelligence is something we are born with, and so have put primitive artificial barriers like SAT's and language and math requirement to get into universities; and while there are individual differences, by and large, intelligence is a matter of learning and the longer we learn the more intelligent we will become.

In California, where they have many community colleges with no entrance requirements that allow kids who got a rough start for myriad reasons, a second chance, and if they succeed, which they usually do, to transfer, to higher institutions of learning and they usually do just fine, wheretofore they would have been deemed unfit for entrance. Education makes the average person smarter, all people.

Therefore, we have to learn about intelligence what we have learned about good health, it takes a life time of good nutrition and exercise and so a lifetime of learning. Right now our government should provide free public education starting with preschool, with a hot lunch and continuing through PHD and further if people want. It is in the best interest of society to do so, as it will give a pay back in increased productivity a more sophisticated democracy and reduced crime.

2) When I was young I made the great discovery that we humans do not deduce much, we learn. We have a mind evolved for the survival of a nomadic animal and does not function very well in the technological world we find ourselves in e.g. we are hardwired for pattern recognition, but not probability which we find hard to understand, so the meaning of life, IMO, then, is to find our way out of Plato's illusory cave of dogma we are born into and into the bright sunlight of a well functioning humanitarian existential being which can only be achieved by learning.

This starts by our recognizing education is not elitist, but rather essential for a healthy life and surviving the singularity.

Cheers

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To: koan who wrote (62)9/20/2017 5:24:35 PM
From: The Ox
   of 107
 
While you're asking about how people will deal with AI and/or the Singularity, I have similar questions about AI and how "machines" will deal with people. Let's start with EMPATHY. There are enough people in this world that seem to have little or no empathy.... but it seems to me that it will be very important for machines to understand this concept.

Many of this issues you raise are partially explained by the fact that so many people have to struggle through their daily lives that they may not be able to spend the appropriate time "learning" or on/in education vs. having to earn a living or who need to support a family or loved one.


so the meaning of life, IMO, then, is to find our way out of Plato's illusory cave of dogma we are born into and into the bright sunlight of a well functioning humanitarian existential being which can only be achieved by learning.
How does the Singularity encompass what you wrote above and do we end up with a "well functioning humanitarian existential AI being" coming out of this process?

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (34)9/20/2017 5:29:42 PM
From: The Ox
   of 107
 
Message 31208383

Meanwhile, across campus, Williams, who is the design lead for Cortana, is building out an ethical design guide for AI to be used inside Microsoft. Williams is, to an absurd degree, a techno-optimist, and she believes that AI’s true magic is that it will make us more human. She talks a lot about how to design empathy into the tools Microsoft builds. “We think about making the human feel more powerful and protected, and supported, and assisted, and loved, and the center of their world,” she says. “AI's job is to amplify the best of society and the best of human behavior, not the worst.”

I ask Williams if she believes AI can really make humans feel more emotionally supported. She’s certain it can. Take a child who has had a bad day at school. She comes home and shares the whole story with a family pet, and feels better. “That gives you this cathartic sense of I've shared something, and I've had a warm, fuzzy hug back from the dog or cat,” says Williams. “But, you know, with AI you can have the same feeling of amplification back... And we see it when Cortana manages to remind you, ‘Hey, you promised you'd send something to your mother today for Mother's Day,’ and you suddenly feel human again.”

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To: The Ox who wrote (63)9/20/2017 8:36:21 PM
From: koan
   of 107
 
Good questions: below all IMO;

with regard to public pre school with hot lunch the parent can drop off the kid and go to school or work and everyone wins: the kid gets an early start to education (we may find this is crucial as it may mitigate the brains pruning of important capabilities that takes place in the young) and socialization e.g. hanging up their coat and socializing for good mental health (we are a pack animal). ; the parent wins as they can go to school or work and the society wins because I believe it is impossible for a society to lose money on education. When a society educates a citizen they get that investment back many times over in increased productivity and reduction in crime. Most crime is the result of ignorance.

With regard to AI's behavior my theory is that AI will know all the history of humankind and be able to see the bad, the good and the ugly by our history and stories, and so it will know being good is a good thing to do :)>.

How it relates to Plato (the worlds first existentialist IMO) is that AI is going to be all about knowledge and will also be existential in nature. Plato's Cave is about transforming from a reality of myth to a reality of awareness and knowledge; so it is important we know what we are talking about when we start interacting with it.

Otherwise we will not recognize what it is doing?



<<Message #63 from The Ox at 9/20/2017 5:24:35 PM

While you're asking about how people will deal with AI and/or the Singularity, I have similar questions about AI and how "machines" will deal with people. Let's start with EMPATHY. There are enough people in this world that seem to have little or no empathy.... but it seems to me that it will be very important for machines to understand this concept.

Many of this issues you raise are partially explained by the fact that so many people have to struggle through their daily lives that they may not be able to spend the appropriate time "learning" or on/in education vs. having to earn a living or who need to support a family or loved one.


so the meaning of life, IMO, then, is to find our way out of Plato's illusory cave of dogma we are born into and into the bright sunlight of a well functioning humanitarian existential being which can only be achieved by learning.
How does the Singularity encompass what you wrote above and do we end up with a "well functioning humanitarian existential AI being" coming out of this process?

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From: koan9/24/2017 12:39:37 PM
   of 107
 


Fixation on negative and positive things: Great and important concept to think about, that people very seldom do. See bottom of page.

I am reading Homo Deus and as I expected the entire book is written at a sophistication of intellectual perception a full level above what most of us live in i..e. he applies logic to mundane things that makes one realize basic concepts are much larger in scope than we seldom think about e.g. what is happiness, how should we pursue it, what does it represent in the grand scheme of things: or, lol, that we are an animal trying to negotiate a technological environment (created haphazardly) with a mind which is evolved for a nomadic life style, not evolved to survive in.

So we need to create an existential mind that can adapt to the modern world.

AI is going to be operating in the existential reality and so we need to be able to see it.

I recommend Homo Deus for one to see what reality looks like when understood at a full level above the reality people live in as seen in common conversation and perception and life style choices,


<<

An interesting consequence of human mind is our fixation on the negative. After watching this TED talk I realized how true this was for me personally. Experiments show that negativity is twice as 'sticky' as positive thought. Norman Vincent Peale talked about the power of positive thinking. The skeptics and cynics (like me) find great humor in the Life of Brian where they are all on the cross singing - "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" - a personal favorite. But in that is a powerful message - Try not to get sucked down by the surplus of negativity and remember that bad stuff impacts people twice as much as good and is twice as hard to reverse, leading to a 4x multiplier.

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To: koan who wrote (59)9/24/2017 1:08:15 PM
From: zzpat
   of 107
 
I'd be curious to see what part of the 60s historians think changed the world more, birth control (the pill) or all the other issues.

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To: zzpat who wrote (67)9/25/2017 11:22:21 PM
From: koan
   of 107
 

They both changed the world greatly. I see no reason to ask that question.

The 60's was transformational because it was a period when the kids and liberals sort of had a collective epiphany which was:" we need to throw out primitive destructive ideas, like racism and misogyny and tribal dogma which prevented so many from self actualization and manifest destiny and replace it with modern existential humanitarian thinking

Continuing to read Homo Deus. He is explaining how the rich are starting to "buy" designer babies and there will be no stopping it. Kids with three parents: Two DNA and one RNA; or fertilize several eggs and pick the one with the least defects..

This is where we are headed, and no going back, so buckle your seat belt and those who choose denial to embracing this reality will have a tough life and if they teach that to their kids they will be left behind.

And if we do not address it here other countries will, so--------?


<<

I'd be curious to see what part of the 60s historians think changed the world more, birth control (the pill) or all the other issues.

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To: koan who wrote (68)9/26/2017 10:54:16 AM
From: zzpat
   of 107
 
The era of liberalism that began with a revolt against the ruling parties is now creating enormous wealth with the Internet and AI (I'm obviously younger than you). There are very few conservative companies that are capable of doing what liberals have already done and are capable of doing. I think they're angry that their belief system can't fix any of our problems and it's the source of their inferiority complex.

They need to taste success and so far it eludes them.

They have power but they don't know what to do with it. Liberals were never that wimpy. We (two generations) changed the world and there's no looking back. From ending a war in Vietnam to creating Google, Apple, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and so much more our influence is global. I think they kinda know they hitched themselves to a dead horse but they can't unhitch themselves.

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To: zzpat who wrote (69)9/26/2017 12:10:40 PM
From: koan
   of 107
 
The singularity is an organic manifestation and was always, and is always, going to evolve until it overrides human thought and there is nothing anyone can do about it except adapt. And that will mean merging with it.

The 60's cultural revolution was also organic in the sense its time had come, just like when we ended slavery, segregation and misogyny.

That same cultural revolution we underwent in the 60's is now taking place all over the world and can be seen in recent cinema from around the world. The young writers and directors are taking the "elders" in second and third world countries to task for their inherent caste systems, misogyny and general denial of basic civil rights.

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