Technological Singularity_ The Post Biological 21st Century

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					   Technological
Singularity: The Post-
                  st
    Biological 21
       Century
      Edited by Paul Budding
                                 Introduction


This is an edited paper on the Technological Singularity. Most of the extracts that I
select will be the words of Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil is a Scientific Futurist… I am
more of a Cultural Futurist. However I can see that Kurzweil’s trajectory is on-
track. He seems to be more in-tune with the timing of technological developments
than anyone else is. Hence I do not challenge his scientific futurism. It would
appear that there now exists a science of technological evolution that is as reliable
as weather forecasting.

However, other players within the technological singularity have contributed to the
field. For example Eliezer Yudkowsky and Michael Anissimov are smart and well-
worth quoting in this paper. Moreover Rachel Marone’s categorizing of Futurists
has been used by me already in this introduction (i.e., I referred to ‘Scientific
Futurist’ and ‘Cultural Futurist’.) I would not have used those terms if I hadn’t read
Marone’s categorizing. Hence I wrote a paper that sought to distinguish Cultural
Futurism and Sci-Fi Futurism from one-another. I have selected extracts from that
essay in this paper. And I reference Marone’s H+ Magazine article that influenced
me. Indeed, there will be a slant towards categorizing terminology in this essay
because it is helpful for clarity. For example Kurzweil insists that the term
‘Transhuman’ is misleading because we are not going to go beyond our humanity,
we are going to enhance it. We are only going to go beyond our biology. Hence I
have titled this essay “Technological Singularity: The Post-Biological 21st Century”.

Any material that I include in this paper DOES equate to an endorsement by me
concerning what is said. But note that it does NOT imply that I agree with
everything else that the person being quoted has ever said in their work. This will
be clear to some readers who will understand that there are differences in opinion
from one futurist (that I quote) to another futurist (that I quote). And that is a
good thing because when pieced together the reader gets a clear idea of my specific
brand of futurism.




                                          1
                     What is the Singularity?
REFERENCE: Kurzweil, January 2006, in Singularity: Ubiquity interviews Ray
Kurzweil, http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=1117663



UBIQUITY:: Why don't you talk a little bit about the notion of "singularity"? Set
the premise for us.
KURZWEIL: Sure. It's actually a complicated premise, but there are several key
ideas. First of all, there's the idea that technology in general is accelerating rapidly,
and information technology in particular is doubling its power, as measured in
price performance and bandwidth capacity, every year. We will see the power of
information technology multiplied by a factor of a billion in 25 years. If you
imagine increasing the power of computers for the same price, computation,
communication, as well as our knowledge of biology, and knowledge of
intelligence processes in the brain, by a factor of a billion in 25 years, it's quite a
formidable result.
The second observation is that information technology is not just computerized
devices like MP3 and cell phones, but is something that is deeply influencing every
aspect of our lives, including our biology, our knowledge of intelligence, worldwide
communications, and so on. People say, well, exponential progressions can't go on
forever: like rabbits in Australia they eat up the foliage and then the exponential
growth stops. But what we see actually in these information technologies is that the
exponential growth associated with a specific paradigm (like, for example,
shrinking transistors on an integrated circuit, which underlies Moore's Law) may
come to an end, but that doesn't stop the ongoing exponential progression of
information technology -- it just yields to another paradigm.


REFERENCE: The Singularity of Ray Kurzweil (vice.com)
http://www.vbs.tv/en-gb/watch/motherboard/the-singularity-of-ray-kurzweil


“The exponential growth of information technology is inevitable.”
“Capturing the real world in information technology [means] understanding
biology in our computers, understanding music in our computers, understanding

                                            2
human language, other mental processes, medical diagnosis […] there’s many
thousands of steps [that get you] from here to there.”


REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p13&14, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin Books)
“I emphasize the exponential-verses-linear perspective because it’s the most
important failure that prognosticators make in considering future trends. Most
technology forecasts and forecasters ignore altogether this historical exponential
view of the future. That’s why people tend to overestimate what can be achieved in
the short-term (because we want to leave out necessary details) but underestimate
what can be achieved in the long-term (because exponential growth is ignored).
REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p13, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin Books)
“Consider the biochemists who, in 1990, were sceptical of the goal of transcribing
the entire human genome in a mere fifteen years. These scientists had just spent an
entire year transcribing a mere one ten-thousandth of the genome. So, even with
reasonable anticipated advances, it seemed natural to them that it would take a
century, if not longer, before the entire genome could be sequenced.”
REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p73, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin Books)
“Yet the fifteen year project [of transcribing the entire human genome] was
completed slightly ahead of schedule, with a first draft in 2003”


Kurzweil’s point is clear. At first technological innovation is hard but the next
steps are easier and the next steps easier still. Hence that is what exponentialism
means. Information technology grows exponentially.


REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p72&73, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin Books)
The “law of accelerating returns […] can be charted with remarkable precision in
information based technologies [This encompasses a lot] electronics of all kinds,
DNA sequencing, communications, brain scanning, brain reverse engineering, the
size and scope of human knowledge, and the rapidly shrinking size of technology.
The latter trend is directly related to the emergence of nanotechnology.”
REFERENCE: John Brockman and Ray Kurzweil, ’After the Singularity: A Talk
with Ray Kurzweil. http://www.kurzweilai.net/after-the-singularity-a-talk-with-
                                          3
    ray-kurzweil

    "The kinds of scenarios I am talking about 20 or 30 years from now are not being
    developed because there's one lab that's sitting there creating a human-level AI in a
    machine. They're happening because it is the end result of thousands of tiny steps.
    Each step is conservative, not radical and makes perfect sense. Each one is just the
    next generation in some company's product"


    REFERENCE: Diamandis, P, http://www.abundancethebook.com/
    Peter Diamandis, co-author of the book titled ‘Abundance: The Future is Better
    than you Think” explains: “Any technology that becomes an information
    technology jumps on Moores Law. [e.g.] When you go to your computer store the
    computer you buy today is twice as fast as the computer from last year for the
    same price. Well that same kind of improvement is now going in Synthetic Biology,
    AI, Robotics…”


    REFERENCE: Yudkowsky, E. S., Three Major Singularity Schools,
    http://yudkowsky.net/singularity/schools
    Eliezer Yudkowsky categorized Singularity thought into three major schools;
    Accelerating Change, Event Horizon and Intelligence Explosion. He defined the
    Accelerating Change schools position as follows:

o   Core claim: Our intuitions about change are linear; we expect roughly as much
    change as has occurred in the past over our own lifetimes. But technological
    change feeds on itself, and therefore accelerates. Change today is faster than it was
    500 years ago, which in turn is faster than it was 5000 years ago. Our recent past is
    not a reliable guide to how much change we should expect in the future.
o   Strong claim: Technological change follows smooth curves, typically exponential.
    Therefore we can predict with fair precision when new technologies will arrive, and
    when they will cross key thresholds, like the creation of Artificial Intelligence.



    REFERENCE: Kurzweil, The Singularity: A Talk with Ray Kurzweil
    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kurzweil_singularity/kurzweil_singularity_print
    .html (Edge.org)




                                              4
Kurzweil: “We use one stage of technology to create the next stage, which is why
technology accelerates, why it grows in power. Today, for example, a computer
designer has these tremendously powerful computer system design tools to create
computers, so in a couple of days they can create a very complex system and it can
all be worked out very quickly. The first computer designers had to actually draw
then all out in pen on paper. Each generation of tools creates the power to create
the next generation.”

Kurzweil thinks that in recent years a greater public awareness has developed
concerning fast technological growth. However he also says that some “otherwise
thoughtful people” fail to factor into their thinking the fact that “the pace of
[technological] change itself has accelerated. [...] the last 20 years are not a good
guide to the next 20 years. We’re doubling the paradigm shift rate of progress,
every decade. This will actually match the amount of progress we made in the
whole 20th century, because we’ve been accelerating up to this point. The 20th
century was like 25 years of change at today’s rate of change. In the next 25 years
we’ll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th century. And we’ll make
20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, which is almost a thousand times more
technical change than we saw in the 20th century”




                                          5
                     Categorizing Futurists


I have already referred to Yudkowsky’s three major schools concerning the
technology Singularity. Similarly Rachel Marone distinguishes between the
Scientific Futurist, Cultural Futurist, Professional Futurist and Sci-Fi Futurist. See
her H+ Magazine article: Are We Creating the Future by Predicting it?
http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/04/04/are-we-creating-the-future-by-predicting-
it/

Marone’s paper interested me enough to write an essay of my own. I paid
particular attention to the categories of Cultural Futurist and Sci-Fi Futurist and I
sought to clearly distinguish them from one-another.
REFERENCE: Budding, The Significance of Memes,
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/118633864/The-significance-of-Memes (Docstoc)



Cultural Futurism distinguished from Sci-Fi Futurism
“In what I write here I want to distinguish Cultural Futurism from Sci-Fi Futurism.
In doing this I will be further demonstrating the significance of memes.

Rachel Marones categories are... The Scientific Futurist, Cultural Futurist,
Professional Futurist and Sci-Fi Futurist.1

The Cultural Futurist could look as if they are creating a Memeplex. But as we shall
see there’s more to Cultural Futurism than that.



Jung writes “… while personal complexes never produce more than a personal
bias, archetypes create myths, religions and philosophical ideas that influence and
set their stamp on whole nations and epochs”.2



I like the idea of updating Jung's terms... bringing them into the memetic field.




                                           6
Personal Complexes = Repressed Memes

Archetypes = Memeplexes



Memeplexes are groups of associations invested with positive numinosity and
cemented into the unconscious. It is repressed material as far as energetic
conscious thinking is concerned. However other people’s energetic conscious
thinking threatens its existence. So for example traditional religious beliefs are
potentially dissociable in a modern western cultural environment. Hence it is
psychologically dangerous to become traditionally religious. And in order to hold
onto the religious numinosity it slides into a power ego attachment. (i.e., if
threatened from other voices)

So the Cultural Futurist surely needs to invest a significant quantity of energetic
conscious thinking into their Memeplex otherwise it becomes too slanted towards
psychological religion and myth. Indeed it becomes Sci-Fi futurism without an
investment of energetic conscious thinking. This is not to underestimate the
scientific intelligence of many Sci-Fi authors. I watched Socrates interview with the
Sci-Fi writer Robert Sawyer yesterday and Sawyer is very intelligent on the issue of
the technological Singularity. However many individuals who don’t write and sell
Sci-Fi books may possess a Sci-Fi frame-of-mind which is nothing more than a
modernisation of traditional religion from a psychological perspective. So it is the
investment of energetic conscious thinking that distinguishes Cultural Futurism
from Sci-Fi Futurism. Hence Sawyer may write Sci-Fi but he is clearly a Cultural
Futurist. (He himself describes himself as doing philosophy so I think that he has
had similar thoughts to me, and may even just be expressing the same thing as I
am saying differently). The shared factor (between Cultural Futurism and Sci-Fi
Futurism) is the potential for influencing the future. And the distinction then is
dependent on futurism or Singularity 'criticism' (i.e., criticism in the academic
sense... not as emotional attack) and from looking at the material resulting in you
arriving at views of your own. If you just love Sci-Fi and are a 'buff' just lapping up
everything, experiencing immersion... then you are a Sci-Fi futurist... and you have
your memeplex. Threatened with dissociation I would personally seek to criticise
(thus become a Cultural Futurist) rather than repeatedly face attacks from outside.
Thus rather than defend-attack forever... you hold a view of your own that is open
and thus not dissociable”.



                                           7
I then went onto write an article titled “Categories (Concerning Advancing
Technology). It was a very small paper so I am posting it in-full here:



                  Categories (Concerning Advancing Technology)


“I now add “PROGRESSIVE” to my Self-labelling of technological
“REALIST”. Also I am aware of the term “Progressive” in politics where I
view it as used only partly correctly/partly incorrectly. I also refer to some
(not myself) who are Techno Utopians. And there are Dystopians such as
Bill Joy. Utopians under-rate life’s influence… dystopians under-rate the
social context in-which technology is embedded.

“‘Technology Sceptics’ commit two errors when considering innovation: That the innovation will
never happen and that they would be astonished if it did. ‘Technology Optimists’ fare slightly
better, committing only the second fallacy (they believe they will find the innovation astonishing
when it happens). However, the ‘Technology Realist’ commits neither mistake, since he or she both
expects that the innovation will happen and that we will not be astonished when it does. [I define]
a Technology Realist as someone who believes anything theoretically possible will become a proof-
of-principle experiment in an R+D lab, that this prototype might one day become a commercially
viable technology… and that we will not be astonished by it if and when it arrives on the
market).” (Extropia DaSilva, ‘The Singularity and the New Intelligence Culture’
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/115119062/THE-SINGULARITY-AND-THE-
NEW-INTELLIGENCE-CULTURE/)

The Term Progressive

In politics this label should be taken away from those who pursue only sectional
self vested interest. It should be about the pursuit of collective interest within a
liberal democracy. (I deliberately say ‘within a liberal democracy’ because if it’s
more radical than that then it isn’t just progressive… it’s revolutionary). Note that
I am not stating a political position of my own here.


There is a contradiction in defining those pursuing their own sectional interest and
those pursuing the collective interest as one-and-the-same thing. It is a
contradiction because they will disagree with each other on the bread-and-butter
issues.

In technology… progressive means what I say it should mean in politics… the
pursuit of the collective interest… which is embedded in the social cultural
context. As in politics it is distinguished from utopianism and dystopianism. Some

                                                 8
people think that it is possible to be a political progressive and a realist. In
technology I think that this is the rational position to take up as one’s own.
Technology is progressive and it’s going to happen without the gee-whizz kind of
response. People will just accept it and integrate it into their lives. They (i.e. the
majority) will not turn the clock back. There will be problems (technology is a
double-edged sword) but no dystopia.


My Progressive and Realistic Technological Wish-list (Note the Post-
biological characteristic)
                         pecific memories for PTSD sufferers)




organic/physical causation)

                                                   replacement of bodily parts with
technological parts)


Pain/Disease eradication)



Life
We will not get away from Memes. People will still have to reflect, mature and
grow. Psychological problems that are not organic/physical will still exist. Maturity
will not be handed to the individual on a plate. Maturity and psychological well-
being will not be a ‘given’ even though there will be no rational reason for distress.
There will still be ego attachments and dissociation, relationship problems… the
stuff of life.

Returning to the categories… there are Tech Realists, Tech Sceptics and Tech
Optimists. (See Extropia DaSilva’s quote on page 1). Anyone who has thought
alittle about technological advances will slant one way or the other concerning
these categories. And the Tech Realist will also connect to one of the following
three categories:

1) Progressive
2) Utopian
3) Dystopian


                                           9
Likewise the Tech Optimist will link to Progressive or Utopian. But the tech
Sceptic who does not believe that technology is advancing anywhere near as much
as the Singularity community (and the mainstream) thinks that it is… will swerve
and avoid linking to any of those three (Progressive/utopian/dystopia) categories”.


(For more on the term ‘Progressive’ as it is used in politics, see ‘note’ at end of the
paper).



REFERENCE: Rodney Brooks, 'I, Rodney Brooks, Am A Robot'.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/i-rodney-brooks-am-a-robot

In a paper written in collaboration with Extropia DaSilva, I and DaSilva
endorsed Rodney Brooks opinion that the Singularity is a period, not an
event. Brooks stated his view as follows:

“I don’t think there is going to be one single sudden technological “Big Bang” that
springs an artificial general intelligence (AGI) into “life”. Starting with the mildly
intelligent systems we have today, machines will become gradually more intelligent,
generation by generation. The singularity will be a period, not an event. This period
will encompass a time when we will invent, perfect, and deploy, in fits and starts,
ever more capable systems, driven not by the imperative of the singularity itself but
by the usual economic and sociological forces”

DaSilva observed that Brooks view is in-tune with Kurzweil’s statement that he
made in the John Brockman interview. (See
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/115119062/THE-SINGULARITY-AND-THE-
NEW-INTELLIGENCE-CULTURE)



REFERENCE: Kurzweil in Katalyst vs. Singularity: A Radical exploration into a
subject of our time. (April 15, 2012) Interview with Ray Kurzweil.
(http://www.kurzweilai.net/katalyst-vs-singularity)

“I think the term “post-humanism” or “trans-humanist” is unfortunate because
we’re going to transcend our biology, [and] we’re going to enhance our humanity.
We will be human even if most of the action is with the non-biological portion of
our civilization. That’s part of who we are as well. I see all these terms as
unfortunate, artificial intelligence implies that it’s not real intelligence, but it is real.


                                             10
“Virtual reality” implies that it’s not real reality, but you and I right now are in a
virtual environment – it’s called the telephone. So, virtual reality is real reality,
artificial intelligence is real intelligence and our future is not going to be post-
humanist or trans-humanist, we’re going to be trans-biological”.




                                           11
         WATSON AS AN EXAMPLE OF
                PROGRESS


REFERENCE: Kurzweil, February 13th 2011, The Significance of Watson,
http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-significance-of-watson



“Computers can “keep track of vast logical structures and remember enormous
databases with great accuracy. Search engines such as Google and Bing continue to
illustrate this strength of computers. [Watson goes further…]

If you watch Watson’s performance, it appears to be at least as good as the best
“Jeopardy!” players at understanding the nature of the question (or should I say the
answer, since “Jeopardy!” presents the answer and asks for the question, which I
always thought was a little tedious). Watson is able to then combine this ability to
understand the level of language in a “Jeopardy!” query with a computer’s innate
ability to accurately master a vast corpus of knowledge. I’ve always felt that once a
computer masters a human’s level of pattern recognition and language
understanding, it would inherently be far superior to a human because of this
combination”.



I would say that computers need to be able to understand contextual discourse
combined with mastery of a vast corpus of knowledge. However I fully accept and
respect the enormity of the challenge concerning the path to Strong AI. What IBM
seemed to have achieved with Watson is an accurate design of a significant aspect
of human way of thinking. Hence Watson is progress but needs to be kept in
perspective due to the higher ambitions of what the AI researchers seek to achieve.
Strong AI will only occur after the reverse engineering of the human brain.




                                         12
MEDICAL (ESSENTIAL) SINGULARITY


In the UK the first four months of 2012 saw news reports concerning
breakthroughs in technology reducing deaths from heart-attacks in recent years…
and vaccines for Meningitis B that will be available later in 2012. However it is
perfectly true that you do not need to look very far for stories of great suffering.
And that is precisely why medical technological progress is so urgent. I do not take
Kurzweil on faith on what he says about eliminating disease, reverse ageing etc…
rather I take him on his track record which is excellent. I do not view the
Singularity as being specifically about medical science. However I do view the
elimination of suffering and death as the most important aspect of the post-
biological era. We are in the early phase of the technological Singularity era right
now. (I’m writing this in 2012). However the early 21 st century will be primarily
remembered for the technological communications revolution as opposed to
medical technological science. Later developments will be more significant. Indeed
they will be essential.

Kurzweil’s date for the practical eradication of human physical disease is between
2025 and 2030. He says that biotechnology (specifically genetic biotechnology and
genetic molecular science) will achieve a lot but it is nanotechnology that will
complete the job.

REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p256, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin)

Most “reverse ageing” will be accomplished using biotechnology methods “such as
RNA interference for turning off destructive genes, gene therapy for changing your
genetic code, therapeutic cloning for regenerating your cells and tissues, smart
drugs to reprogram your metabolic pathways and many other emerging techniques.
But whatever biotechnology doesn’t get around to accomplishing, we’ll have the
means to do with nanotechnology”.

REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p255&256, The Singularity is Near: When
Humans transcend Biology (Penguin)




                                         13
Kurzweil says that nanobots will “keep you healthy. They’ll destroy pathogens such
as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells, and they won’t be subject to the various
pitfalls of the immune system, such as autoimmune reactions. Unlike your
biological immune system, if you don’t like what the nanobots are doing, you can
tell them to do something different […] When nanotechnology is mature, it’s going
to solve the problems of biology by overcoming biological pathogens, removing
toxins, correcting DNA errors, and reversing other sources of ageing. […] For
each ageing process, we can describe a means for nanobots to reverse the process,
down to the level of individual cells, cell components, and molecules.



REFERENCE: Kurzweil in the Independent newspaper (Science Section): 27th
September 2009, reporter: Mike Hodgkinson, By 2040 you will be able to upload
your brain…
“People can wax philosophically” says Kurzweil. “It’s very abstract – whether it’s a
good thing to overcome death or not – but when it comes to some new
methodology that’s a better treatment for cancer, there’s no controversy. Nobody’s
picketing doctors who put computers inside people’s brains for Parkinsons: it’s not
considered controversial.”

Might that change as more people become aware of the Singularity and the pace of
technological change? “People can argue about it,” says Kurzweil […] But when it
comes down to accepting each step along the way, it’s done really without much
debate”.



REFERENCE: Kurzweil, (Video) The Singularity: Ray Kurzweil,
http://knowyourmeme.com/videos/31375-the-singularity (Know your Meme
Webpage)

“Some people muse philosophically [saying] ‘Oh I don’t want to live past 100. Well
I would love to hear them say that when they are 100. And I do talk to 100 year
olds and they want to live to see tomorrow. So it’s not a matter that we want to
live 500 years. We want to live to see tomorrow. And research shows that the only
people that don’t want to live to see tomorrow are people in terrible pain, physical
or emotional”.




                                         14
REFERENCE: Kurzweil, 2005, p324, The Singularity is Near: When Humans
transcend Biology (Penguin)


Life Expectancy (Years)

Cro-Magnon era (c. 20,000 B.C.): 18 years
Ancient Egypt (c. 1800 B.C.): 25 years
Medieval Europe (c. 1400): 30 years
Industrial Revolution in Europe and U.S. (c. 1800): 37 years
Second Industrial Revolution (c. 1900): 48 years
Internet Age (2002): 78 years



REFERENCE: Kurzweil, The Singularity: A Talk with Ray Kurzweil
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kurzweil_singularity/kurzweil_singularity_print
.html (Edge.org)


“If you look at human longevity – which is another of those exponential trends –
you’ll notice that we added a few days every year to the human life expectancy in
the 18th century. In the 19th century we added a few weeks every year, and now
we’re adding over a hundred days a year, through all of these developments which
are going to continue to accelerate. Many knowledgeable observers, including
myself, feel that within ten years we’ll be adding more than a year every year to life
expectancy.

As we get older, human life expectancy will actually move out at a faster rate than
we’re actually progressing in age, so if we hang in there, our generation is right on
the edge. We have to watch our health the old-fashioned way for a while longer so
we’re not the last generation to die prematurely. But if you look at our kids, by the
time that they’re 20, 30, 40 years old, these technologies will be so advanced that
human life expectancy will be pushed way out”.



REFERENCE: Personal Correspondence

In 2009 I emailed Ray Kurzweil and asked him what percentage of people alive
today (within a margin of error of 10%) will still be alive in 200 years time? He
politely replied to my email and said “Order of magnitude: 50%”.


                                            15
REFERENCE: Kurzweil, February 3rd 2006, The Futurist/ Reinventing
humanity: The Future of human-machine intelligence.
(http://www.kurzweilai.net/reinventing-humanity-the-future-of-human-machine-
intelligence (Kurzweilai)



“Despite the wonderful future potential of medicine, real human longevity will
only be attained when we move away from our biological bodies entirely. As we
move toward a software-based existence, we will gain the means of “backing
ourselves up” (storing the key patterns underlying our knowledge, skills, and
personality in a digital setting) thereby enabling a virtual immortality”.



This leads us nicely onto the goal of mind-uploading. The Futurist Michael
Anissimov is passionate about this issue and wrote an article on it in April 2012.
(Extracts below)

REFERENCE: Anissimov, M, April 13th 2012, What are the Benefits of Mind-
Uploading? http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/04/13/what-are-the-benefits-of-
mind-uploading (H+ Magazine)

“Universal mind uploading, or universal uploading for short, is the concept […] that
the technology of mind uploading will eventually become universally adopted by all
who can afford it, similar to the adoption of modern agriculture, hygiene, and
permanent dwellings. The concept is rather infrequently discussed, due to a
combination of 1) its supposedly speculative nature and 2) its “far future” time
frame. Yet some futurists, such as myself, see the eventuality as plausible by as
early as 2050.

Before I explore the idea, let me give a quick description of what mind uploading is
and why the two most common roadblocks to its discussion are invalid. Mind
uploading would involve simulating a human brain in a computer in enough detail
that the “simulation” becomes, for all practical purposes, a perfect copy and
experiences consciousness, just like protein-based human minds. If functionalism
is true, as many cognitive scientists and philosophers believe, then all the features
of human consciousness that we know and love — including all our memories,
personality, and sexual quirks — would be preserved through the transition. By
simultaneously disassembling the protein brain as the computer brain is
constructed, only one implementation of the person in question would exist at any
one time, eliminating any unnecessary philosophical confusion. Whether the
                                         16
computer upload is “the same person” is up for the person and his/her family and
friends to decide.

Still, even if two direct copies are made, the universe won’t care — you would have
simply created two identical individuals with the same memories. The universe
can’t get confused — only you can. Regardless of how perplexed one may be by
contemplating this possibility for the first time from a 20th century perspective of
personal identity, an upload of you with all your memories and personality intact is
no different from you than the person you are today is different than the person
you were yesterday when you went to sleep, or the person you were 10-30 seconds
ago when quantum fluctuations momentarily destroyed and recreated all the
particles in your brain.

[…]

indefinite lifespans. Software can have backups which can be restored. This
would make uploads effectively immortal.

It’s pretty clear that mind uploading would be incredibly beneficial, both
personally, to civilization as a whole, and to the environment. As stated before,
only three elements of personal reckoning are necessary for it to be highly
significant — 1) that you believe a brain could be incrementally replaced with
functionally identical implants and retain its fundamental characteristics and
identity, 2) that the computational capacity of the human brain is a reasonable
number, unlikely to be much more than 1019 ops/sec, and 3) that at some point in
the future we’ll have computers that fast”.



Of course some people will die before we attain longevity and immortality.
However the Singularity community is determined to think of solutions to all kinds
of problems and this most definitely includes phenomena that is still regarded as
science fiction in 2012. So for example resurrection, formerly an issue that only
traditional religion dealt with, has started to be discussed as a possibility by smart
people. (See the quantumarchaeology link below). Such an issue deserves serious
consideration. It is cosmically wrong to scoff at such discussion. The reason why it
is so wrong to scoff at such discussion is because of the unbearable sufferings that
have befallen human life through-out history.

Quantum Archaeology link: https:sites.google.com/site/quantumarchaeology/

An alternative solution to correcting the pasts tragedies is of course, time-travel.
Clearly many people find this an interesting topic; hence its place in movies and
television shows etc. However, it is also a very serious issue and if time-travel can


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become science fact then there is an immense quantity of suffering that can be and
needs to be vanquished.



Note

I hesitated to include this end-note in my essay because this is a technological
Singularity paper and not a politics paper. However while technology is the driving
force behind the substantial and real progress in society, politics as a social
collective phenomena is relevant for dealing with harmful effects of technology
(i.e, politics is relevant here in collaboration with science). So there is a link.
Moreover a laissez faire government may decide against public
spending/investment in technological science research (including medical science)
thus slightly slowing the speed of technological science progress. Of course private
individual philanthropists may plug the gap. But the greater the public cut the
harder it would be to plug the gap.

Politically-speaking, the term Progressive tends to get used to define almost any
Social Democrat. I will argue here that it shouldn’t. Let’s say that a Social
Democratic politician in a Scandinavian country wishes to get into power in order
to simply preside over a society that spends 50% of its national wealth publicly
(while allowing 50% to be in private hands). So when (s)he enters government
50% is being spent publicly and when (s)he leaves government 50% is being spent
publicly. I would define such a politician as a conservative Social Democrat as
opposed to a progressive Social Democrat. The term progressive rightly implies
‘movement’. But here there is no movement. The description ‘Social Democrat’ is
still (however) apt because it helps distinguish from Conservatives who intend to
lower public spending, lower taxes and put more wealth in private individual
hands. Hence a Scandinavian Social Democrat is clearly distinguished from a
British Thatcherite or American Republican. A Progressive Social Democrat would
have increased the public/private share of wealth in the public’s favour. However
if increasing public spending and more taxes harms the collective society and
economy due to harming wealth creation then that is not progressive. There comes
a point where this must occur. It isn’t clearly defined in modern western politics
which tends to leave the decision about the public/private share of national wealth
to the political culture of the nation in question. My definition of Progressive
includes within the definition the working for the collective interest as opposed to
sectional and vested interests. If the collective is harmed by increasing public
spending/taxes so high that the collective society and economy is harmed then that
is neither progressive nor conservative. No term is necessary to describe what such
harmful policies should be called. Or if you want a term for it... any negative term
would be apt. (e.g. destructive, wreckless)


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