the other singularity

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two years ago I wrote a research paper on the technological singularity, because my English prof. seemed rather nerdy and into sci fi so I thought I'd play it up a bit for a good grade. But I found out some rather spectacular information.

Moore's law states that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits has doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented. This means that each time it doubles the productive of the computer hardware doubles as well. So computers are getting smarter, get it? The singularity is the point at which humans will cease to be able to continue this trend and the computers will build more efficient machines. Computers building computers, can you kind of see how freaky that could be?

Anyway, there's this guy named Ray Kurzweil who is a bit of a genius and inventor of the synthesizer. Everyone accepts that this guy is a genius. Well, when his father passed away he vowed to live long enough to reach the singularity so that he could download his memories onto a computer and recreate a being like his father. What? Well, the way Kurzweil describes it is that the human body is our hardware and our memories are our software. All hardware eventually begins to malfunction and needs to be replaced whereas the software can be saved. When I came across this guy, I literally thought he'd lost his marbles with the death of his dad and was trying to find a way to evade death. He takes 150 pills a day to be healthy and extend his life span so as to live long enough to see the singularity.

Also, The Big Band Theory did an episode about this where Sheldon came to realize that in order to survive he would have to hide out in his bedroom because his body is so weak and prone to accidents. Hilarity ensued.

But! This whole idea creeps me out! Sure, you can download memories and create a machine that mimics your actions and beliefs but is it really you? Doesn't your essence, your soul (ugh, and I say this for lack of a better word...), reside solely in your body? To everyone else, perhaps it might be "you," but for you once you die, you're dead. This entire concept seems purely selfish to me.

Can't deal with death? Don't have to! Download your aging parents today for low monthly cost of $199.99 until you can't stand them, then unplug them!

Humans are getting out of control with technology. It's one thing to attempt to make your life more comfortable but this robotics, genetics and nanotechnology has the ability to get way out of control in the wrong hands and I think this is something we're going to encounter in our life.

Although, the idea of using nanotechnology in order to clean up our atmosphere sounds pretty awesome. Let's move forward with that, please. And lets start using hemp for all of our paper needs instead of cutting down the rainforest.

Prop 19

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I don't know shit about politics.

A few days ago at school there was a debate on-campus regarding Prop 19 between a retired DEA agent and the editor of High Times magazine. One of the biggest things I took from the debate was the DEA saying, "Now, most of you will probably boo me for saying this but 90% of you kids out there who are for the legalization of marijuana and smoke don't care about the medicinal aspect of the prop but only want it legalized so you can get away with doing it recreationally without worrying about the cops being on your back." Did they boo? Hell no, they applauded.

I am for the legalization of marijuana for a few reasons. Medicinally, I see no reason why it shouldn't be legalized. It has helped more people than hurt from what I have seen in my life. I, personally, think alcohol is a far more hurtful substance to individuals than marijuana is. Viewing the stereotypes alone we have angry drunks versus carefree, loving hippies. Which would you prefer to be surrounded by? I know, we tried prohibition and failed (I am nowhere near even advocating that we attempt prohibition again, I am merely stating that we have worse things legalized as far as I'm concerned) and although we haven't had anywhere near the same level of backlash with marijuana I can only think of a few reasons why it shouldn't be legalized.

Really, perhaps the only reason I think there are any issues with the legalization of marijuana is because we don't have a breathalyzer-type instrument to tell you when someone's high. Society being the way it is, they'll want to regulate what you do on the job (and rightly so in some cases: i.e. driving heavy machinery) and currently the only means of figuring out whether you've partake or not is via urine or blood samples and the shit remains in your system for up to a month so that's not particularly helpful.

It seems to me though that the fight for legalization has been going on for decades and this may not be the time for it to pass. It saddens me, a bit. It appears to me that we are entering a conservative era and... I feel like I have missed out on something important and grand.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I believe the universe was created 14 billion years ago from a singularity and what we today know as the big bang theory. From that single moment in time, all of the Helium and Hydrogen in the universe was created, the basis for the existence of everything we know today. Every single atom ever was born in that moment and exists today, surrounding us, engulfing us. Four billion years ago the solar system was born out of an accretion disk creating the milky way we see today. The initial blast from the big bang (and assuming we all know a bit about inertia and vacuums) pushed everything in an outward motion, which continues to this day. Hypothetically (and this can never be proven), the universe will reach a limit of expansion at which it will slow and inevitably stop before it starts shrinking unto itself once again, eventually back into a singularity and possibly creating yet another big bang. The cycle of this means that perhaps on the grand scale of things, this has happened before. Other universes could have existed and others can exist again. Who knows?

I suppose this can be viewed as somewhat "spiritual," but it seems lacking to me. I do not praise, pray or cower. I do not judge. I question, I ponder. I refuse to preach but I will sit and converse. No one is right, to me, because nothing can ever be proven.

We are all stardust. Today, as much as when I was a child, this idea remains with me and comforts me.

This is my "religion," I suppose. My science. This is what I believe.

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.
-Lawrence Krauss


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