Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Technological singularity

This week Time magazine focuses on Singularity, a hypothetical event occurring when technological progress becomes so rapid that it makes the future after the singularity qualitatively different and harder to predict. Many of the most recognized writers on the singularity, such as Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, define the concept in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence, and allege that a post-singularity world would be unpredictable to humans due to an inability of human beings to imagine the intentions or capabilities of superintelligent entities. Some writers use "the singularity" in a broader way to refer to any radical changes in our society brought about by new technologies such as molecular nanotechnology,although Vinge and other prominent writers specifically state that without superintelligence, such changes would not qualify as a true singularity. Many writers also tie the singularity to observations of exponential growth in various technologies (with Moore's Law being the most prominent example), using such observations as a basis for predicting that the singularity is likely to happen sometime around 2045.
What I found disturbing about the article was the glorification of intelligence without one word about the value of emotions.
We humans are quite proud of our intelligence and point to it as what makes us better than other animals. While I don't have a problem with our intelligence, I strongly believe our emotions are what truly make us human.
It is our ability to love and hate, hope and fear that shape and define us. If all we were was intelligent, we would be no more than a machine - a smart phone or a super smart computer.
Yet these people who are pushing for their singularity dream seem to have a goal where humans would stop being human and become more like powerful computers with human bodies to move them around. Not once in the article is sex mentioned. I guess sex is just too damned human and results in irrational behavior. While this is true, sex is often the foundation for love and compassion, and who among us would trade off sex and love for more intelligence.
Just remember, while money cannot buy love, neither can intelligence buy love. Money can't buy happiness and neither can intelligence. Both are tools. Neither should be elevated to the position of a god because both are false gods.
If this push to achieve singularity continues, we may need to push back to preserve our humanity.

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