Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cautions on Technological Singularity

Daniel when he was on Earth, was actually much more intelligent than I. Following his passing,his departure leaves a mouthpiece still flapping, without the brain engaged. While he was here, we discussed a lot of things which likely bordered the realm of science fiction or even science fantasy. Let me see if I can explain one of our conversations.
Some years ago we discussed the possibility that technology on Earth would improve to such a degree that life, and the social fabric on Earth would change. For example, if perhaps a secondary storage device which could interface with the human brain were developed, then I, for example, would have access to a great deal of tangible information. This might not simply improve my writing, but my thoughts, my conclusions, my goals and my objectives. If this concept were to be repeated many times,with different people, the world over, then changes would occur on Earth. In a time in which we have not yet assessed and fully digested the sociological long term implications of simply the internet and its use, the boosting of our own brain's libraries could change a great deal. Education would be impacted. Jobs would be impacted. Social fabric would be altered. Others have also speculated that as artificial intelligence and simulated learning of computers change exponentially, that it may only be 34 years before a computer exists which is superior intellectually to human beings.
Along the same lines of Daniel's and my discussion is a concept called "Technological Singularity", which is being discussed often today in universities and other places. Technological Singularity is simply put, a radical change in our civilization which occurs as a result of our use and reliance on technology. In this conceptual concern we artificially amplify human intelligence using the crutches of computers and informational storage. This leads us to develop assistive medical devices which prolong life and improve our length of working lives. These technological advances could conceivably result in changes which would ultimately broaden the perspectives and thinking of human beings. As we speak, geniuses and think tanks are wondering when we will reach a point at which technological singularity operates as a crutch which prevents human beings from developing as integrated biological entities, and alters our normal development as human beings and as a race.Some have called this the "Rapture for Nerds".
My thought on this is that it already has. Computers being used as widely as they are, and even in places where they are, frankly unnecessary, have changed a couple of generations. Cursive writing is no longer being taught in some American schools, as computer keyboarding is accomodated in ever younger grades. Spellchecker has resulted in many otherwise intelligent young people, being quite incapable of spelling conventionally. Some students, without a computer, simply can't self occupy, plan, organize, or live. It has impacted social skills, dating, and job searches, and not necessarily in healthy ways. Increased tolerance for simply incorrect spelling and grammar is seen, in schools as, "simply the price for teaching computer competency".
We already have some people in the world who use media to make decisions for them, and who are incapable of considering and concluding using data available. Some of our youth is decidedly less capable of reasoning with their brains alone, than WWII counterparts were.
Some people fear that computers will ultimately reach a point where they can "out think us" and that independent and creative thought, as we have known it, in prior generations will cease". I don't know if it will, but so far, it has.
Perhaps it's not quite science fiction after all.


This young man is Jake Barnett, a rather bright 12 year old young man who reminds me of Daniel, a bit.

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