On Singularity, Ray Kurzweil and IBM's Watson

, posted: 15-Mar-2013 09:44

I was reading a current article by Ray Kurzweil in this month’s edition of The Futurist and it got me to thinking a little. Here are a few random synapse connections from me.

He talked about how the digital neocortex will be be much faster than my wet-ware and that the roughly 300 million pattern recognisers in our biological neocortex will allow us to think in the cloud, using billions or trillions of pattern recognisers.  The IQ part of my brain thinks this could be amazing, although I would worry about dendrite overload or glutamic acid over stimulation, which is associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s. It’s one thing to connect my brain or nervous system to additional memory, but to extend the processing in and out, is something that I think may require a lot of very careful study.

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about a potential future condition, Google Glasses Separation Syndrome. I recently introduced my daughter to the brilliant book, Flowers for Algernon which follows a similar thread. What happens when you expand a person’s capability to the point that it changes their existence and then potentially remove it again.

I noted that Ray perhaps doesn’t like driving very much because he talked about self driving cars alleviating the requirement of humans to perform the ‘chore of driving’. Sorry Ray, I love driving and so do a large percentage of the people I know. I appreciate that you now work for Google and they are pioneering driver-less cars, but I don’t want to live in a city where eventually the law requires hat the ‘network’ takes over my car. Yes there are benefits in road safety etc.  but with systems such as Fleet ManagementMobilEye, and the incentives of PAYD Insurance the roads will become safer without requiring us to take our hands off the wheel.
So IBM‘s Watson won Jeopardy, cool. It is an amazing AI and I love that it is now being used to look for cure’s for cancer amongst other things. But if you start thinking about Watson, a digital neocortex and singularity, what about EQ? It’s one thing to be able to identify things, to be able to locate information, to be able to combine apparently disparate bits of data, but how about feelings, intuition, id and ego? These are the things that make us human.

I like where this is going, but I also want to keep that which is me. Watson might be able to write a hit song by understanding the formulas and this has been tried before. But the song I wrote about a boy whose father lost his job at the plant and asks Santa to find his dad a job, while his mother sits and cries in the bedroom, or the one I wrote about a guy who returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to find his best friend is now sleeping with his girlfriend, that brought tears to Desert Storm vets isn’t going to come from an AI. An AI may understand the chemical reactions of the brain and intellectually that these experiences can cause people to be sad.

The ultimate AI could use impeccable logic to say that humans are bad for the planet, they are frequently illogical, their emotions cause them to make bad decisions and basically shouldn't be here. Perhaps when Watson really ‘thinks’ about cancer, it might determine that humans are in factor a cancer on this planet and should be booted down. Then we will be left with the singularity which will contain all information, ask why and then boot itself down because having access to all the information in the world, does not impart any meaning.

What are your thoughts?


Comment by Renwick, on 15-Mar-2013 19:18

I think at some stage we could probably resort to plugging ourselves into a version of the Samsung S4 which looks quite promising. At the least it might improve our multilingual skills . . . . .

Comment by Brad Arnold, on 15-Mar-2013 20:39

Technology increase at an exponential rate, not a linear. The result is that we are going to see unintuitively fast progress in the next couple of decades. For instance, within twenty years there will very likely be an extreme longevity treatment(s) that allow us to live centuries, or AGI (artificial general intelligence) that is smarter than Einstein yet also as smooth as the Bachelor (my wife loves that show). Bottom line: engineered is always going to be better than naturally evolved. Heck, it is predicted that robots will beat humans in soccer within 5 years (ever see an iCub?). BTW, check this out:

"A volume about the size of a #2 pencil eraser of water provides as much energy as two 48-gallon drums of gasoline. That is 355,000 times the amount of energy per volume – five orders of magnitude." ( http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/New-LENR-Machine-is-the-Best-Yet.html ).

This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers: http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJtallyofcol.pdf

"Over 2 decades with over 100 experiments worldwide indicate LENR is real, much greater than chemical..." --Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center

"Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry." --Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny, NASA

By the way, here is a survey of some of the companies that are bringing LENR to commercialization: http://www.cleantechblog.com/2011/08/the-new-breed-of-energy-catalyzers-ready-for-commercialization.html

For those who still aren't convinced, here is a paper I wrote that contains some pretty convincing evidence: http://coldfusionnow.org/the-evidence-for-lenr/

Comment by DarthKermit, on 16-Mar-2013 20:18

Last weekend, I watched an old sci-fi movie called Colossus: The Forbin Project.

It's about a computer trusted to run the American nuclear defence system. It decides to take over and put humans under its control.

It was released in 1970 and the technology looks very dated now, but the themes in the movie seem to be getting closer to reality in today's world.

Colossus is available on You Tube.

Author's note by PDAMan, on 17-Mar-2013 15:59

Will add it to my todo list @DarthKermit. Imagine what people will think in 40 years time if they watch H+ http://www.youtube.com/user/HplusDigitalSeries 

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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.