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The Singularity

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"Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended." -- Vernor Vinge, 1993

Everybody knows that times are a changin'. The social and technological changes that took place in the 20th century were huge compared to those of the 19th century. In the last 50 years computers have gone from room sized monsters that could perform hundreds of calculations per second to book sized devices that perform billions of calculations per second. Every year the pace of change seems to get faster.

Although many people know this, what most people don't realise is that if you do a careful analysis of how quickly things are changing what you discover is that the rate of change is exponential. That is, the rate at which things are changing is quickly increasing. If this trend continues, and many people believe that it will, then the implications for our future are profound. And we're not talking about the distant future either. If you thought the rise of mobile phone technology and the internet over the last ten years was big, the changes that will take place over the next ten years will dwarf that. And the ten years after that... that's when things will start to get really wild. At some point people simply won't be able to keep up with the rate of change anymore. That's the singularity.


Papers
    The Coming Technological Singularity -- Vernor Vinge, 1993 (classic in the field)
    How Long Before Superintelligence -- Nick Bostrom, 1997 (postscript 2005)

Books
    The Spike -- Damien Broderick, 2002
    On Intelligence -- Jeff Hawkins & Sandra Blakeslee, 2004 (theory of the human neocortex)
    Universal Artificial Intelligence -- Marcus Hutter, 2004 (mathematical model of super intelligence)
    The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology -- Ray Kurzweil, 2005

Video
    Innovation Everywhere -- Ray Kurzweil, 2005
    Building Gods -- Featuring Nick Bostrom, Kevin Warwick, Hugo de Garis and Anne Foerst. 2006

Audio
    Keynote Presentation, Accelerating Change -- Vernor Vinge, 2005

Blogs
    Michael Anissimv michaelanissimv
    Nick Bostrom
    vetta project

Websites
    Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence Network
    The Singularity Institute
    Acceleration Studies Foundation


There are other singularity focused communities on Live Journal. The difference with this community is that we take a strictly scientific perspective. No new age mysticism will be found here. That doesn't rule out posts about things like consciousness. However, such posts will need to be backed up by references to work which has been published in reputable scientific research journals. As the saying goes, if you want to make amazing claims, then you need amazing evidence.

 

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