The idea of a pending technological Singularity is under attack again with a number of prominent futurists arguing against the possibility — the most prominent being Charlie Stross and his astonishingly unconvincing article, “Three arguments against the singularity.” While it’s not my intention to write a comprehensive rebuttal at this time, I would like to bring something to everyone’s attention: The early rumblings of the coming Singularity are becoming increasingly evident and obvious.
Monthly Archive: July 2011
Bill Joy’s main thesis is to argue that as technology progresses, we experience the democratization of evil, where individuals with limited training and resources could bring about large evil events that would threaten all life as we know it. The evolution of man to post-humanity, then, can be said to contain a shift in both the potential power of the individual over other individuals, and the ecosystem, and the effectiveness of that influence.
If you are like me you might come from a generation that was raised online before the boom of social networking sites. The Internet was once a secret room that only the freaks could experience. We were trolling before it was called trolling and we didn’t do it for mob sport but intellectual exercise. My first exposure to the Internet was through a free text-based service where you could view alt.newsgroups and send email through a program called Pine. There was no world wide Internet that I could see from miles away.
SENS describes a whole battery of medical treatments that could theoretically defeat the aging process. These treatments range from relatively simple ones like injecting people with enzymes that can break down tough wastes inside of cells, to highly advanced ones like genetically altering trillions of somatic cells in full grown adults. Considering the differential technical challenges, what SENS therapies will most likely become available first, and which will be developed last?
Recently, scientists at USC implanted a memory enhancing chip into rats. By recording the transfer of signals between hippocampal regions (CA3 to CA1), scientists were able to bypass the normal neural connections mice use to encode long term memory. The chip, when activated, allowed the rats to remember how to perform a task despite being drugged to forget how to perform that task. Although the technology is still very early in it testing phase, the scientists hope to apply the same principle to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or stroke, where memory is often affected.
We all express the symptoms of a fatal, inherited degenerative condition called aging-or so the joke goes. It’s a dark joke, but there’s truth to be found in it, as is often the case in black humor. Unfortunately, all too few people think of themselves as patients suffering aging, and fewer still would call themselves patient advocates, agitating for research leading towards therapies and cures for aging. This is a sorry state of affairs: given that our time is limited and ticking away, the tasks upon the table should always include some consideration of aging. What can we do about it?
Hank and I have had a complicated relationship, which anyone who has read his articles here on H+ and over on IEET might be familiar with. I started out being an avid supporter of his in such early articles such as in-vitro meat, and sex-bots, and a regular commenter on his many others.
You’ve been working for many decades, benefiting from advances in computing. The near miracles of modern spreadsheets, Internet search engines, collaborative online encyclopaedias, pattern recognition systems, dynamic 3D maps, instant language translation tools, recommendation engines, immersive video communications, and so on, have been steadily making you smarter and increasing your effectiveness. You look forward to continuing to “merge” your native biological intelligence with the creations of technology. But then … bang!
Bright young activists have great plans for the future. They say that science and technology, not religion, will be humanity’s salvation. An era of universal prosperity is coming. Humanity will throw off the shackles of the old; a new world is arising. This utopia is almost guaranteed, but first: The threat of world-rending disaster looms.