A Conversation for The Vingean Singularity [Obsolete]

A512902 - The Singularity

Post 1

iaoth

http://www.h2g2.com/A512902/

This is my first informative Guide Entry. It deals with the event known to some as 'the Singularity', a hypothetical but fairly plausible event that will take place between now and 2035, according to scientists. I've tried to follow conventions and keep it as neutral as possible (although I believe it will happen). If it isn't accepted as an Edited Entry, please tell me why.


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 2

The Frood (Stop Torture: A455528)

It looks like a great entry.

Maybe it is just me, but the term singularity is not explained very well. I think it'd be better if it was made clearer.

And I had heard the term singularity before but it was used in a different context...


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 3

HenryS

I think the prediction of 'the singularity' happening is sortof reasonable, but it wouldnt have anything much to do with a singularity as the term is used in physics and mathematics. Though of course thats an issue with the subject matter, not the entry. How many people are singularitists? Where are they based? What do they do? Any chance of these questions being answered in the entry?


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 4

iaoth

Thank you for the comments, Frood. smiley - smiley
I'll try to clarify what the Singularity is. Note the capital 's', by the way -- I'm not talking about black holes or a point at which the derivative of a given function of a complex variable does not exist (although it's a very valid analogy).


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 5

iaoth

Good questions, HenryS. Although the entry does mention the Singularity Institute and say what they're up to, it doesn't point out that the Singularitarians seem rather unorganized (I doubt that they know themselves how many there are) and do not have such a big Web-presence. However, I could perhaps mention some projects and link to them. I only know one off the top of my head, though, I'll have to look into it.

Thanks! And btw, that Galileo project of yours looks cool. I like the Imp Courier ascii. Two thumbs up! smiley - oksmiley - ok


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 6

Beeblefish

Excellent entry! Another interesting corollary to the intelligence curve that has been theorised by Robert Anton Wilson (amoung others) is that being exponential, it will eventually reach a point king of like an intellectual orgasm, where the mass concious of the world will start creating important inventions/uncovering new understandings once a month, then once a week once a day once an hour ..etc etc .. until in the last .25 seconds many fundemental truths will come into being all at once ... geese .. starting to sound like an Adamsian fiction dunnit? Perhaps the race is between that point and the Singularity ...

~Beeblefish

pS Did you know that there are more scientists and philosphers alive today than ALL THE SCIENTISTS AND ALL THE PHILOSOPHERS OF ALL OF TIME PUT TOGETHER?


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 7

iaoth

Thanks for the compliment, Beeblefish! smiley - smiley (Incidentally, yes, I did know that. Science is a luxury that we can now afford.)

I've updated the entry now, incorporating some of the changes that was proposed by HenryS and Frood. It now has (I hope) a more precise as well as understandable definition of the Singularity plus more information on the different organized efforts to reach the Singularity. It's really starting to look like one of those nice Edited Entries. *hint hint* smiley - winkeye


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 8

Gnomon - time to move on

I don't agree with the content of this article at all. But since some people believe it, it is worth presenting.

I disagree with the statement "most people think we are smarter than we were a century ago". Most evidence shows that people are no smarter now than they were 5,000 years ago.

The problem of artificial intelligence has proved far harder to crack that it was originally believed. In 1969 when Clarke wrote 2001, it seemed reasonable that Artificial Intelligence would be around by 2001. Now we realise that nobody has ever produced any system with even a grain of common sense. So setting "the Singularity" for no later than 2010 seems optimistic in the extreme.


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 9

iaoth

I respect your opinion, and I am very much aware of the fact that people used to think that computers were more or less thinking beings and that neural networks were accurate models of the human brain. Totally laughable.

However, I think you're wrong about no system having a grain of common sense. Have you heard of the program EURISKO for instance? It was developed by Lenat in the 1980s. I must admit that it naturally wasn't a perfect artificial intelligence, but it exhibited a remarkable knack for examining virtually any problem space. For example, after learning some mathematical axioms, the program could reach theorems that had taken the human race hundreds of years to work out. EURISKO was incredibly diverse as well; it became the champion of a tournament called Traveller TCS (a naval warfare game) two years in a row. The sponsors threatened to cancel the competitions if EURISKO entered and won again. There are too many other examples of EURISKO's apparent intelligence for me to write down here. (Maybe I should write an entry about it?)

Anyway, my point is that we've come a long way (baby). Also, you have to take in account the fact that we can reach the Singularity through the use of nanotechnology. Sure, it's a very young science, but a lot of progress has been made there as well.

In addition, 2010 is the most optimistic point, and it's *not* an estimate, it's a goal.

I was going to write something more which was probably very enlightened and smart, but a cute girl just walked by and I seem to have forgotten everything I've ever known. Damn these hormones and things.

If you're not convinced, I advice you to follow some of the links (NOT the Singularity Club, they're practiacally crazy, but don't tell them I said so).


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 10

iaoth

I remember now. I was going to say that even if people are no smarter now than they were 5,000 years ago, that's a continuous curve (a special case of a curve: a straight line). If we _do_ create something that is smarter than us, the curve makes a non-continuous jump. The theory holds.

Thanks, I think I'll add this to the entry. smiley - smiley


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 11

iaoth

Right. I've updated the entry with the comments in the post above as well as toned down some of the stuff to make it more informal and objective (changed "highly likely that we'll reach" to "we might reach" and "most people" to "many", that sort of thing). I hope it's not too vague now, though.

I think it looks like it's done now, but what do I know? Keep commenting the entry if you want me to change anything or explain something. This is fun! smiley - biggrin


UNDO! UNDO!

Post 12

iaoth

OK, this entry is NOT FINISHED! I just discovered some serious errors. I'm sorry, I should have checked my facts better... smiley - sadface

Move this thread to the Sin Bin -- the entry SUCKS and is NOT FINISHED. I'll post it again later if/when I'm done with the entry.

Sheesh.


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Post 13

The Frood (Stop Torture: A455528)

Well, you are pretty good liar 'cause I bought it! smiley - winkeye

What was wrong?


A512902 - The Singularity

Post 14

Merdo the Grey, Patron Saint of fuzzy thinking

I'm looking forward to the revised edition,iaoth.

The one problem i see is that the definition of singularity depends on the meanings of both "intelligence" and "sentience." Both terms have been under debate for centuries, without a resulting concensus on what they mean.

Does a curve representing the collective level of sentient intelligence on the planet include ALL sentient intelligence? Or only HUMAN sentient intelligence?

Hasn't biology always tended to create a higher level of sentience and intelligence within the total paradigm of living things on the planet. Hasn't biology allways created higher intelligence from lower intelligence (the new generation smarter than the last)?

Or do we have a situation where the total intelligence and sentience of all organic life is a constant, and that any intelligence/sentience gain in one part of the biosystem wil result in a comparable loss somewhere else in the system?

A fascinating area of thought.

Personally, I think that humans through history have continually amassed the products of their intelligence (technology, knowledge-systems etc.), and have not significantly increased the level of intelligence ... no human is capable of mastering all of human knowledge and technology, but each human may, as an indiviual, deploy a large part of this knowledge and technology as an extention of him/herself.

Our collective intelligence/sentience is always larger than can be expressed in a single individual. Does this perhaps mean that we have already created an artificial intelligence that is bigger than our own?
Haven't we, perhaps, already reached the so-called singularity?

~^M^~


UNDO! UNDO!

Post 15

iaoth

I see it's in the Bin now. Thank [Insert Deity Here].

Frood: Quite a lot of things are wrong in the entry, actually. The Singularity is not simply a discontinuity, it's where a function approaches infinity (or negative infinity), sort of like the theoretical infinite gravity in the middle of a black hole (which is called - surprise! - a "singularity"). In this case, the value that approaches infinity is either intelligence, information processing or technological progress, depending on who you ask...

There are some other errors as well -- I'll have to read up on the causes of the Singularity.


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Post 16

xyroth

You have a problem with your page, all h2g2 links become a subpage, rather than linking to the right page.
Some of the other problems have already got total or partial solutions. Intelligence has been well defined by the russians, so that something is intelligent if it answers intelligent questions intelligently, which nicely gets around the turing test..
Sentience was given a reasonable definition on star trek - the next generation in the episode "the measure of a man" where data is put on trial to find out if he is property, or sentient.
Consciousness is even simpler, as something is conscious if it is self-aware.
A lot of work is going on at the moment with wearable computing, which when prevalent, with webcams on them and face recognition is the start of proper cybernetic enhancements.
There is also the nexialists, who are working to get rid of lots of unconnected little sciences and replace it with a single, multi-disciplinary science with all of the facts from the other sciences fitted in in a properly interconnected way.
How much of this is relevent I am not sure, and as it is all periferally connected, I thought it betterto mention too much rather than too little.


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Post 17

iaoth

Hmm. I can't see any problems with the h2g2 links. As for the technological progress, I think the entry would be a bit cluttered if I add specific details about AI, cognitive science and science in general.


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Post 18

xyroth

The problem with the links is that if you link to artificial intelligence, you get A512902/A413687 rather than A413687 as the page linked to. As I said, the other stuff is only lightly connected, but Ithought it better to mention it (especially the bit about nexialism) and let you decide if it was better to include it in the entry or not.


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Post 19

iaoth

Weird. I get the right page. The URL in my browser says "http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A413687", the title bar says "BBC Online - h2g2 - Artificial Intelligence - A413687", and the page looks fine: "Artificial Intelligence. Basically, AI (artificial intelligence) is the art of making machines appear to be able to 'think'. [...]" You must be having some problems with your browser or something. I've written the entry in GuideML, and used Blah blah, so it should work perfectly.


UNDO! UNDO!

Post 20

Gnomon - time to move on

Problem solved: your original link in Post 1 of this thread had a slash at the end and it shouldn't. This confuses the linking mechanism. If instead you follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A512902

or just delete the slash by hand, it all works OK.


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