Monday, June 6, 2011

Technological Singularity

2.6 million years ago our human ancestors created the first stone tool starting the tool revolution, which helped us in our quest to kill animals for food and eventually many other helpful jobs, such as skinning animals for their furs and making temporary shelters. This allowed us to get an advantage over other predators and let us defend our selves and kill and eat larger animals, allowing our species to spread all over the planet. 10,000 years ago we began the agricultural revolution starting the fertile crescent int the middle east, the Indus river valley in Pakistan/India, and in the Yangtze river in China as well as in the America's. This allowed us to settle down and stay in one place. This allowed support for larger populations and let larger groups of people together letting larger amounts of people to share a language and cultures. And not everybody needed to work to make food so where able to spend their time making pottery, clothes, buildings, art and have certain people think about laws and philosophy giving rise to governments and religions, culminating into what we now call civilizations. About three to two centuries ago the power of non-human and non-animal sources of energy came to the full realization as people took full advantage of water and wind power as well as taking advantage of new sources such as steam, coal, gas and eventually oil. This lead to the industrial revolution as mechanizing the process of creating goods allowed for mass-production and mass-power as steam powered boats paddled against the wind, trains brought people and goods across continents within days, automobiles brought people into the city while living comfortably away in the suburbs, and planes took people into the skies and across the world. And in the last fifty years we've been through the digital revolutions where since there inception at the end of WWII computers have been getting faster and faster while getting smaller and smaller and in the 90's the internet brought the entire world to the entire world, where anywhere there was an internet connection (which now with satellites, WiFi and 4G seems to be everywhere) anyone can connect to every other computer and learn ideas impossibly much faster than what could be imagined even a century before, and those same people can but their ideas out to the world (much like I am) and anyone can discuss their thoughts and findings.

As you can see in the previous paragraph a definite pattern emerges throughout human history. Each point I mentioned brought forth a new technological revolution having unbelievably more benefits than the last forever changing humanity as we knew it. But there is another as important piece of this pattern each time between the next revolution and the before it is much smaller by a magnitude of ten or more. If one extrapolates, if the last time frame between this revolution and the one before it was measured in a matter of centuries, then the next revolution should come within a matter of decades. But the question is what is the next revolution going to be and what would it be like?

Of course no one can know the details of the revolution before us (try imagining Napoleon trying to imagine a smart phone, or a Sumerian farmer trying to imagine a tractor) but of course many people can't help to imagine what the future might bring. Many scientists, mostly computer scientists imagine a Technological Singularity. Now what that means is that, if the rate of progress continues the path it is than within a century change would happen so quickly that a technological revolution would happen every year, than month, than, day, than hour, than minute, than second etc. Change would happen so quickly so fast that it would be impossible to predict what would happen after the singularity much like it's impossible to predict, with our current laws of physics, what would happen past the event horizon of a black hole singularity.

Kinda confusing but it's just saying as time goes by important events happen quicker and quicker. Also it's on a logarithmic scale, not a constant one, so this trend is happening at an exponential rate.

And now what would cause us to go past this metaphorical "event horizon"? Well as we advance to day we just use our intelligence plus the measuring tools we made before to make new discoveries allowing us to make better tools, which is why technological advancement accelerates the way it does now. The significant thing about the next revolution is that soon we will have the tools to make greater intelligences, which could make more discoveries allowing them to make better tools and better intelligences which would increase the rate of advancement even more exponential-er, which would be allot. There are many ideas hat what these super intelligent beings could be. They could be robots with AI, that either make improvements on themselves or make AI's that are smarter than them. They could be humans that change their genetic make up to increase ther intelligence allong with some other attributes, which could also carry the wave of perfecting genetic altering make even smarter children which at one point would diverge from the species we call human. Or it could be a mix where humans alter the size of there brain though genetics and have robotic implants for extra storage increased speed, establishing human to human connections and increase human sensory input. I prefer the last mostly because such human and robotic merging is taking place right now and that would be awesome (never forget the awesome factor when it comes to exploring scientific frontiers! Why did we go to the moon? Because it's there? Because it's hard? No, because it was awesome, and no one can disagree with me on that).

There are many cases of human and machine joining together as the date of this post. Obviously there are prosthetic limbs for amputees which get more complicated and elaborate (a person with a fake leg could walk right by you and you wouldn't know if they were wearing pants over their leg). But other more advanced technologies are around to. Some paralyzed people have wires attached to there brain and thourgh the pure power of thought a man could move a mouse across a computer screen and play simple games. A blind lady had a camera replace her eye which was connected to a small computer in the back of her head which electrified certain parts of her visual section of the brain when the camera saw lights in certain corresponding areas and soon she was able to see fuzzy black and white images of her surroundings and was even able to identify things like a sailboat. That may seem small now but soon maybe she could see in 1080i or even resolutions higher than the eye can see now.

And of course, here is a monkey with a robot arm.

A computer attached to the monkey's brain controls the arms movements. At first the monkey doesn't know at all how to move it but as it's brain learns it finds out that the only way to eat the marsh mellow in front of it is to use it's new arm and grab the sweet treat and put the arm right in front of it's mouth. At one point (not shown in this video) the monkey starts to lick the marsh mellow residue on the robo-arm rather than grab a new marsh mellow which they said that meant the monkey was starting to accept the fact that the robo-arm is actually part of him/her. Even in the military is starting to fuse man and machine making a Iron Man suit/ Mjolnir Powered Assault Armour like suit that increases the soldiers strength incredibly allowing to carry a hundred pounds of equipment or more for hours without breaking a sweat or even feel like he's in a robotic suit. 

Because people <3 visual stimulation. I can't help but say "That's so F**king cool!!"

There are also ideas to make glasses or goggles with built in computer's that can overlay images onto what you see. If they are able to connect to the internet the second you look at somebody it can Google them and look up their Facebook profile and give you everything you may need to know. It can overlay GPS directions on the very road you're looking at and looking at a building could give you it's street address. Looking at anything these devices could give us any amount of knowledge there is about that thing increasing the knowledge of any human being with them. Eventually they may even be set down to the size of contacts to essentially invisibly become a part of you. One day we'll think how we ever got around without these devices.

We could also implant computers into our brain, letting us save videos with taken with our contacts and saving them to a 20 terrabyte hardrive (probably under estimating) so we can do what I always dreamed of. Living in a world where we can rewind experiences and memories much like we can do now with TiVo or Forge in Halo (thats two references to that game now, (the MJONIR armor for those unaware) and yet I'm not a fan of that game hmm.....), so if you forgot where you left your keys rewind to where you came back home drunk last night and find that you left them in the fridge?? Weird.... Anyways, certain CPU could be added into our brain to help us with things that human brains are atrocious at, mostly math skills. Imagine being able to do 238,432.234234 times 342.3672291 in your head in less than a 60th of a second, you're brain will send it to the robo CPU it'll crunch the number and the numbers appear magically in your mind like you did it yourself, and you could say you didn't. And once we find out how to program intuition, creativity and problem solving skills we can improve upon that. 

Eventually we would find out how to do better things through mechanical means than biological and slowly making our selves completely mechanical beings, much like the movie "Bicentennial Man" but in reverse. We couldn't exactly say when the exact moment of being a being of flesh to a being of machine. And to further extrapolate as computers become ever more connected becoming faster as computer farms work together to solve a single problem, our robotic heirs might eventually come together into one sentient being controlling several bodies, much like a hive mind or something, where all of humanity become one being constantly discovering more secrets, recording more facts, and further improving itself until maybe it encapsulates the entire Universe and it becomes one sentient being and from there I don't know, nor do I have any Idea when these things can happen. 

And so we stand at an important crucible of humanity where we forever and indelibly change what it means forever as we pass through the Technological Singularity. 

If you wanna look up the guy who thought about this allot more than I did here's a link to a site that was written by Vernor Vinge in 1993 and how he predicts that the Technological Singularity will happen before 2030 oooohOOOOHohOOOOHoohOHohOHHhhoohOO!!!!!!!!!!

Wow just realized 3 hours after I uploaded this post that I actually didn't put the link so here you go:


  1. I think technologies are cool, they make me laugh. :)

  2. As an IT guy your entire post makes me happy ;)