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.


lettucehead said...

Honestly, I think the soul is our consciousness, which could never be re-created, unlike the body. So I agree: it can't be you because you = consciousness. However, technology is as up to speed as our consciousness, unlike the body again. I have no idea what to expect anymore! There already evidence that they can make clones! Fucking clones! They've tried it on a sheep, but not humans (yet.) I think if they ever make a clone of a human they'll have a different conscious, so it could never be you still, just a look alike. That makes me wonder when we die if our conscious stays alive, or if we merely turn into whatever's less than atom (the beginning) and start over again, or if we simply stop existing.

Marcela García Pulido said...

I had a discussion about that too, the clones. We agreed that basically as soon as they exist in 2 different bodies they are different entities. It reminded me of identical twins, they may look exactly the same but different life experiences and thought patterns created 2 wholly different individuals.
I think life does move forwards then backwards, we end up having to be taken care of when we're old. But more importantly, before our birth we did not exist and when we die we will cease to exist. We don't talk about ants or rodents having a heaven and in the grand scheme we are every bit as unimportant as they, if only perhaps more destructive.

lettucehead said...

I'm not saying there's a heaven. I don't believe there is. And rodents or ants don't have a conscious so they don't count in the idea (dolphins do tho.) It's just a possibility since there's no right answer. It's a crazy thing to think about.

Marcela García Pulido said...

I'm not saying you did, I'm just stating my thoughts. Any idea of our conscience remaining after death is considered a type of heaven though, in my books.
That's my point too, though. We are so self righteous to consider ourselves better than these creatures and I don't think we deserve any better.
Rats are highly intelligent little creatures that are oftentimes overlooked because, 'eww they're gross!' My sister used to have pet rats and they're so amazing, they showed a level of loyalty that I haven't seen in most cats.
Did you know that if you tickle a rat it will make a squealing noise that is considered it laughing?
And there have been experiments showing that a rat will not eat if it means another rat will be electrocuted. There are so many amazing incidents of animal altruism, it's not just dolphins.

Roland said...

I'd read a short story on the technological singularity a few years back, beautiful thing, about a world based in an electronic consciousness. The Earth had become rather… ice agey, difficult to live on, and so many, nearly all, of the people still alive imprinted their conscious minds onto a vast galactic supercomputer. Galactic laws were set into place to avoid 'resurrecting' the dead, to a point.
The story begins with a young man, presumably, waking his father up with breakfast in bed. The father had been dead for a number of years, maybe decades, but the room around him and the breakfast before him were perfect facsimiles of the place he left behind. To his new consciousness, the transition was mostly seamless, as the history of the world was slowly explained to him, he took it with strides, excited and curious with the new order of things. This was their 'heaven' in a way, where the one consciousness had ceased to exist, an entirely new entity, similar in every way and every though, was created, and who was wholly grateful and loving and happy, glad to have been saved from the horrifying unfeeling and unthinking void. I’m projecting on that last bit.
Actually, I found it. Resurrection, by Harry Stottle, radio play.
The full scale of it all, however, lies within the fact there is no way to stop the increasing universal entropy. At least in my eyes. And the persistance lies with hubris of life and thought rather than hubris of humanity. Consciousness is glorious, that at least is true, and the preservation of all that we’ve learned and all that we’ve thought and all the possibilities of the thoughts from across the universe.
I would like to also suggest reading both The Last Question, by Isaac Asimov, and Conversation With God, by Stottle again. ( , respectively.)

lettucehead said...

That's very interesting about rats. Thanks for sharing.

Marcela García Pulido said...

That's amazing. Neat story. I have a story I want to share with you now, only I have to go and find the link first... haha.
I'm saving the links to read tomorrow, after my midterm and studying :)


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