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Tis the Season for Singularity - The Singularity

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December 14th, 2006

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06:12 pm - Tis the Season for Singularity
(crossposted to sci_singularity, singularity_now, and transhumanists)

I once thought for a second about whether it would make sense to give money to a charity or a project to advance the Singularity, but right away I realized: Almost all of the charities these days are funds to support the Singularity. Cure Diabetes. Cure Cancer. Our world society doesn't acknowledge that it is in a Singularity (nor even, often, that it is a world society), but it has instinctually reoriented its priorities to the extent that it considers curing entire categories of disease to be a reasonable short term goal.

It's this sort of line of thinking that has led me over the past few years to dramatically alter my personal timetable for the Singularity. I think that every scientifically minded person in our age realizes that the Singularity is a likely eventual experience for our species. What makes us here different is simply that we have concluded within ourselves a timetable that intersects the heart of the Singularity with the range of our immediate personal planning. I grew up unconsciously placing the Singularity somewhere like 2700-- beyond the end of myself and my sensible human descendants. Now I am looking very seriously at the 2020s.

Once the general population realizes that "The Singularity" is the fountain from which all of the cures spring, the goose that's laying those golden eggs, they are going to lay down one very, very large bet on machine intelligence as a panacea. Compassion and mortal fear are a difficult combination to halt with so meager a defense as the unknowability of something so strange. Until now we have been accidentally falling down the rabbit hole. When they realize what's happening, they'll cut the parachute strings.

The Singularity-- under whatever name-- will be sold as the greatest charity in history. Curing everything, freeing everyone, making everything beautiful.

I see the it therefore as beyond inevitable. The human race is perhaps capable of turning down immortality and omnipotence if given some suitably cute puppy to weigh in the scales against it, movie-ending style, but there is no way in hell that the human race will turn down immortality and omnipotence if they can rationalize it as helping some poor person with Parkinson's. This affair with Computation will turn from a vague accidental tendancy to a fully formed and fully funded intention.

In one sense the end point of this transformation is clear. This local space, this here energy and matter, this Shakti and Shiva, is Turing complete. That means that it is fundamentally capable of being anything. No, seriously, anything. The other day I imagined if the whole thing was turned into a giant Donkey Kong game. Not lots of games of Donkey Kong being played by AIs or anything sensible like that-- no, just one giant game, with one monkey at the top rolling one barrel at a time down ten to the howevermanyth pixelated girders and ladders towards one lonely Mario.

Let that example stand in for all of the absurd worlds that could be programmed by the idealogues and moralists of this strange little planet, my friends. We live inside of a computer. There is a nascent battle for root.

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Date:December 15th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)
Ray Kurzweil who wrote The Singularity Is Near (a hell of a book, going through each of the main areas risks vs rewards and developmental timelines - in 650 pages, with 100 of them being footnotes!) reckons about 2047, mostly taking into account computer power and storage. I would write more, but there's not enough room in this little box :)

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