Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Newsweek article on the Singularity

There's an interesting article on Newsweek about Ray Kurzweil titled "I, Robot"

Kurzweil believes computer intelligence is advancing so rapidly that in a couple of decades, machines will be as intelligent as humans. Soon after that they will surpass humans and start creating even smarter technology. By the middle of this century, the only way for us to keep up will be to merge with the machines so that their superior intelligence can boost our weak little brains and beef up our pitiful, illness-prone bodies. Some of Kurzweil's fellow futurists believe these superhuman computers will want nothing to do with us—that we will become either their pets or, worse yet, their food. Always an optimist, Kurzweil takes a more upbeat view. He swears these superhuman computers will love us, and honor us, since we'll be their ancestors. He also thinks we'll be able to embed our consciousness into silicon, which means we can live on, inside machines, forever and ever, amen.

For one it’s an insult to call our brains weak, considering they run an estimated 20 Peta flops and are smartest machines we know of. The current best supercomputer only runs at about 1 Peta flop and we still don't have the kind of software needed to fully realize it’s potential.

The emergence of artificial intelligence that is indistinguishable from human intelligence does seem plausible. Considering the extreme difficulty of interfacing a living organism with silicon, I doubt that we'll become a cybernetic race anytime soon. Kurzweil's dream of embedding his consciousness into silicon seems highly unlikely to me.

Edit: I think its important to keep an open-mind regarding any future technology. People once laughed at the idea of flying or landing on the Moon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wolfram Alpha

I don't know exactly how it works but it can do some really cool things. For one it can tell you what the weather was like (In Los Angelas) on Jessica Alba's 18th birthday.

Understanding the root cause of the current strife between spiritualists and academics.

The allocation of self to mind, body and spirit determines how we view the world and how the rest of the world views us. The mind is made up of collective knowledge and procedures. It can be thought of as a series of algorithms acting on inputs, based on knowledge and experience. Academics tend to allocate more to mind than to body and rarely allocate more than a pittance to spirit. The body is the physical aspect and requires considerable allocation of self to keep it perfectly tuned. Athletes are required to focus most of their attention to body. The remainder goes to mind and spirit. What “spirit” actually is is open to debate and is subject to interpretation. Many people believe it to be our soul, made up entirely of ethereal energy; others see it only as an abstract construct of the mind. It doesn't really matter which because to the spiritualist it feels real. The spiritualists tend to focus on gaining greater awareness. They spend a lot of time on mediation and/or prayer and allocate less to the body and rarely focus on academic study. This tends to place the academics at the opposite end of the spectrum from the spiritualist; and so they often end up in conflict. The academics see the spiritualist as ignorant fools, to be despised and ridiculed. The spiritualists view the academics as spiritual infants, with infantile views, and respond in kind. Thus you end up with this silly back and forth between the two groups. The athletes couldn’t care less either way.