The Singularity - Q&A

Discussion in 'Science and Nature' started by g0pher, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Singularity Q&A
    By Ray Kurzweil

    Questions and Answers

    So what is the Singularity?

    Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply integrated in our bodies, our brains, and our environment, overcoming pollution and poverty, providing vastly extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses (like “The Matrix”), “experience beaming” (like “Being John Malkovich”), and vastly enhanced human intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned.

    And that's the Singularity?

    No, that's just the precursor. Nonbiological intelligence will have access to its own design and will be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle. We'll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that unenhanced human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will mark the Singularity.

    When will that occur?

    I set the date for the Singularity-representing a profound and disruptive transformation in human capability-as 2045. The nonbiological intelligence created in that year will be one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today.

    Why is this called the Singularity?

    The term “Singularity” in my book is comparable to the use of this term by the physics community. Just as we find it hard to see beyond the event horizon of a black hole, we also find it difficult to see beyond the event horizon of the historical Singularity. How can we, with our limited biological brains, imagine what our future civilization, with its intelligence multiplied trillions-fold, be capable of thinking and doing? Nevertheless, just as we can draw conclusions about the nature of black holes through our conceptual thinking, despite never having actually been inside one, our thinking today is powerful enough to have meaningful insights into the implications of the Singularity. That's what I've tried to do in this book.

    Okay, let's break this down. It seems a key part of your thesis is that we will be able to capture the intelligence of our brains in a machine.


    So how are we going to achieve that?

    We can break this down further into hardware and software requirements. In the book, I show how we need about 10 quadrillion (1016) calculations per second (cps) to provide a functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. Some estimates are lower than this by a factor of 100. Supercomputers are already at 100 trillion (1014) cps, and will hit 1016 cps around the end of this decade. Several supercomputers with 1 quadrillion cps are already on the drawing board, with two Japanese efforts targeting 10 quadrillion cps around the end of the decade. By 2020, 10 quadrillion cps will be available for around $1,000. Achieving the hardware requirement was controversial when my last book on this topic, The Age of Spiritual Machines, came out in 1999, but is now pretty much of a mainstream view among informed observers. Now the controversy is focused on the algorithms.

    And how will we recreate the algorithms of human intelligence?

    To understand the principles of human intelligence we need to reverse-engineer the human brain. Here, progress is far greater than most people realize. The spatial and temporal (time) resolution of brain scanning is also progressing at an exponential rate, roughly doubling each year, like most everything else having to do with information. Just recently, scanning tools can see individual interneuronal connections, and watch them fire in real time. Already, we have mathematical models and simulations of a couple dozen regions of the brain, including the cerebellum, which comprises more than half the neurons in the brain. IBM is now creating a simulation of about 10,000 cortical neurons, including tens of millions of connections. The first version will simulate the electrical activity, and a future version will also simulate the relevant chemical activity. By the mid 2020s, it's conservative to conclude that we will have effective models for all of the brain.

    Full article at: Singularity Q&A | KurzweilAI
  2. Kurzweil is a really brilliant guy but I agree with Douglas Hofstadter in that Kurzweil's predictions about the singularity really stem from his own obsession with not dying. He's overly optimistic about a field that is still a long way from true artificial intelligence. He has a lot of good to say, in many different fields, but as far as artificial intelligence goes his ideas are a bit out of touch. But people said the same thing about Copernicus, so who am I to judge? I guess we'll just have to wait it out. An interesting topic nonetheless.
  3. I, for one, welcome our new hyper-intelligent machine overlords.
  4. I want to agree but if you've ever read his predictions starting from the beginning the dude has been spooky accurate. Ok well maybe not spooky but I would say if you predict any sort of technology within a 2 year period from 10-15 years out you've got your finger on the pulse of whats going on.

    Not only that but he's been working with Juan Enriquez who is the f'in man. Some of his ted talks:

    Juan Enriquez: Will our kids be a different species? | Video on

    Juan Enriquez shares mindboggling science | Video on

    Juan Enriquez wants to grow energy | Video on

    His older ones are really good as he show's what they can already do with genetics (as of like 2008ish) and talks about where they can go from there.
  5. While this singularity might be a momentous event I can't help but feel that we should be adding some Asimov-esque laws to AI early...

  6. We just need to make robots without emotions and without any built in instinctual drive.

    Without that they won't even want to conquer humans. They'll just be like machines today but way smarter.
  7. Good point. But if that happened no doubt we'd have some uptight group of robot ethicists that insist that their lack of emotions allow us to keep them as a slave class or something. They'd probably call themselves "PETR".
  8. You'll also want to make sure the computers are impervious to all possible forms of viruses before you start mass producing them.
  9. how do you do that when no one is building one AI for everything? It's not like people are working on a super AI to do everything. People are building robots for specific things and you hardly need any sort of laws to protect humans for a robot that can do the dishes.

    yea, that won't happen. The cost of trying to do that would prohibit them from being made in the first place. That's why it doesn't happen with things made now and it won't happen then. Let's just hope that the company that makes them is on the ball at updating software.
  10. Yeah AI I think will become like nuclear Bombs.

    Very very tightly regulated.

    Because one crazy ass group or nation could create some self aware super intelligent robot that escapes and goes on some spree and starts making a robot army or something to that effect. Aka the terminator scenario.

    We'll certainly have "PETR" type groups but I think they'll be ignored like PETA is today.
  11. I think its more like WE will be the AI than anything else. We will be human body 2.0 fused with machine:

    " We're already in the early stages of augmenting and replacing each of our organs, even portions of our brains with neural implants, the most recent versions of which allow patients to download new software to their neural implants from outside their bodies. In the book, I describe how each of our organs will ultimately be replaced. For example, nanobots could deliver to our bloodstream an optimal set of all the nutrients, hormones, and other substances we need, as well as remove toxins and waste products. The gastrointestinal tract could be reserved for culinary pleasures rather than the tedious biological function of providing nutrients. After all, we've already in some ways separated the communication and pleasurable aspects of sex from its biological function.

    And the third revolution?

    The robotics revolution, which really refers to “strong” AI, that is, artificial intelligence at the human level, which we talked about earlier. We'll have both the hardware and software to recreate human intelligence by the end of the 2020s. We'll be able to improve these methods and harness the speed, memory capabilities, and knowledge- sharing ability of machines.

    We'll ultimately be able to scan all the salient details of our brains from inside, using billions of nanobots in the capillaries. We can then back up the information. Using nanotechnology-based manufacturing, we could recreate your brain, or better yet reinstantiate it in a more capable computing substrate.

    Which means?

    Our biological brains use chemical signaling, which transmit information at only a few hundred feet per second. Electronics is already millions of times faster than this. In the book, I show how one cubic inch of nanotube circuitry would be about one hundred million times more powerful than the human brain. So we'll have more powerful means of instantiating our intelligence than the extremely slow speeds of our interneuronal connections.

    So we'll just replace our biological brains with circuitry?

    I see this starting with nanobots in our bodies and brains. The nanobots will keep us healthy, provide full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system, provide direct brain-to-brain communication over the Internet, and otherwise greatly expand human intelligence. But keep in mind that nonbiological intelligence is doubling in capability each year, whereas our biological intelligence is essentially fixed in capacity. As we get to the 2030s, the nonbiological portion of our intelligence will predominate."
  12. #12 Brenjin, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2012
    Yeah of course we will become More than humans but as long as we are humans the robots/computers that we build will always be smarter than us.

    Because they won't be built from evolution but rather from design.

    There are far too many artifacts to remove from our dna to ever be as perfect as our robots in the future unless we no longer care about being human anymore. Which I think we will.
  13. The question is whether or not we will even need computers who are more creative and dynamic than us. We've had computers that do more complex calculating since the abacus, but even the IBM Sequoia is less creative than your run of the mill human. I think we'll just need a bunch of dumb robots to do manual labor and some basic communicating/co-ordination. I also think to boost our intelligence, we will resort to employing eugenic principles, rather than resorting to submission to supercomputer overlords.
  14. #14 g0pher, Jun 22, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 22, 2012

    I think its more of a progression and collective advance in separate fields of technology than actually working towards having a super brain computer that can do everything. Perhaps that will be the overall result -- but it is not the fundamental objective.

    The objective is to improve processes, systems, speed, functionality etc, this is what technological evolution is about, the end result happens to create a gadget which is put together by all these individual parts that give us what we have today. Look at an iphone for instance

    Improvements in computer chips = improvement in processors
    Improvements in retina displays = improvements in screens (ie iPad)
    Improvements in information techonology = Improvements in computer software
    Improvements in optics = improvements in cameras
    Improvements in pattern recognition software = improvements in voice and face recognition

    These are all independant research fields and technologies which took their own paths in development but when fused together make 1 cool gadget, ie the smartphone

    Its collective, like considering the path of a single molecule in a gas would be essentially impossible, but predict the properties of the entire gas-comprised of all the interacting molecules and you score.

    Its about individual achievements in each field and our hunger for better technology that drives the overall capabilities and improvements in information technology


    And i agree with Justonemorecone -- we need to put countermeasures in place very early. If we're going to reach a point where our creation rivals our own intelligence and then surpasses it - we will have a problem.

    Its either you go 2.0 or you die

    We will resort to employing eugenic principles indeed

    So god save us all

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