Singularity and ESI's

, posted: 31-May-2010 21:12

It's a bit of a stretch putting this into Consumer Electronics, perhaps more about Science Fiction becoming reality.
I always thought of singularity as being when supercomputers end up being able to match human intelligence. One of the early science fiction films that influenced me in my youth was 2001 A Space Odyssey. I loved all of Arthur C Clarke’s books,but HAL 9000 was my first introduction to the concept of a computer that thinks, reasons and has emotions. I’ve often thought  that if a computer reached that level, it would consider humans to be animals to be eradicated as quickly as possible. The way we humans behave is often totally irrational and inappropriate, we are actively destroying our planet and instead of working together to fix it.
So I was somewhat surprised to read of research by organisations such as DARPA working on the concept of singularity as being a combination of genetics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. I don’t know why I was surprised. First, the concept of Ubermensch probably goes way back before Nietzsche, perhaps even to da Vinci. Some people consider Nietzsche to be the inspiration for Hitler’s concept of the Aryan master-race.
Over the years we have seen many films such as The Terminator, TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and it is only logical that for many reasons, the military, NASA and others need to be able to modify humans to be more powerful. The military can use people who have super vision, night vision, extreme strength and resilience and of course if we are going to send people into space for long periods of time, wouldn’t it be easier if they were able to withstand low or no gravity for long periods of time, perhaps very high gravity, be able to thrive on different diets, different atmosphere etc. Just adding a little justification here.
One of the first areas that the concept of enhanced human beings is a result of the medical world finding ways to aide humans who have had injuries or other conditions, for example having lost an arm or a hand. It is now only mildly surprising to see people with a stump, manipulating a prosthetic hand and managing complex tasks.

The BeBionic Hand is due for release in June of this year and will make a huge difference to many people. Of course the military and those who can afford it, can add this type of enhancement technology to the able bodied. Imagine having an exoskeleton that would allow you to lift a 200 pound weight 500 times in a row. With millions of dollars of funding from DARPA, Sarcos, a recently purchased subsidiary of Raytheon has built the XOS Exoskeleton which can do that, it’s real technology, not something out of a Marvel comic or a SciFi movie. It’s very real.

They call this a Combat Robot, but imagine the other uses. For example imagine the uses of a suit like this for civil defence emergencies, after an earthquake, or rescuing people from a major motor accident. I’ve said it many times before: Science Fiction is becoming fact at a pace that is mind boggling.
I’ll finish for now with eyesight. Imagine being able to see and focus way beyond what humans can normally do. Did you know that Tiger Woods used to have -11 eyesight, which is about as short sighted as you can get. According to TLC Eye Centres, he wouldn’t have been able to see the ball without glasses until he had Lasik treatment. They say that he now has eyesight significantly better than the average person and that this contributed to his golfing success. According to a story on the Slate website, many athletes are being targeted by marketing offering them an advantage by enhancing their eyesight when there is nothing wrong with it. Last year I wrote about Tanya Vlach who was trying to get someone to provide her with a bionic eye. Checking out her blog, she hasn’t achieved her goal yet, but I suspect she will.
If you’d like to know more about enhanced humans and DARPA, I’ll leave the last word to Wired Magazine who have an excellent article (already 3 years old) about some of the amazing developments that have probably already been dramatically improved on and we haven’t even started on nanotechnology.

Other related posts:
Health Industry Connects Sensors to iPhone
Virtual Augmented Reality Retail Showroom
The Loss of an eye and a new Disruptive Technology?

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Comment by Linuxluver, on 1-Jun-2010 09:42

For me, the Holy Grail would be to digitally replicate / transcribe a human mind and be able to load it into whatever device was deemed worthy / useful / suitable / appropriate. 

This way, we could make copies of ourselves - our consciousness - that would be effectively immortal and send then to the far stars to walk the surface of airless planets......freed if any biological constraint or requirement. We could sleep for a million years and awake on arrival and construct the means by which we could 'clone' our original bodies - if we even wanted to - and then inhabit them on fresh, green planets under different suns....knowing that we would not die and could renew ourselves if we chose...or make fresh copies and send them on their own journey onward. Time would not be a concern. Population would be irrelevant as a billion of us could inhabit a "matrix" stored in a show box....each without our own 100 acre farms or city apartments....or whatever. You might have a thousand or a million images of your mind inhabiting every imaginable type of space or time....and each on its own unique journey into the far future. Or not. Death would always be an option. 

The possibilities are endless...and getting our mind out of our body the first, necessary step.

Comment by Linuxluver, on 3-Jun-2010 10:14

I posted a comment here a couple of days ago.

Wasn't it good enough? Or just haven't got to approving it yet? 

I'd like to know as I base my decisions as to what to read in future on such things.

Thanks.  :-)

Author's note by PDAMan, on 4-Jun-2010 21:53

Sorry, I've been off the grid for a few days

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Luigi Cappel
New Zealand

Helping people getting their message to potential customers with blogs and social media.
Futurist and start up founder.
Passionate consultant about all things to do with Social, Location, Augmented Reality and Mobile.
Member of Auckland ICT Cluster
Chair of Computing and IT Industry Advisory Committee at National Technology Institute
Founding member and past president of the New Zealand Wireless Forum.
Past Vice President NZ Sales & Marketing Institute.