TED Conversations

Alan Keeling

This conversation is closed.

Is the singularity inevitable and if so then what's the point?

Capitalism is driving the human race forward technologically speaking, you cannot sell a device that is worse and more expensive than the device that has come before it, generally speaking. This has only one inevitable outcome, A.I. / robots / nano-tech / genetic engineering etc and of course the potential for human extinction or salvation the more these kind of technologies mature.

So the question becomes are we the people just going to fall into this and let the money makers keep telling us all to make more profit and work harder, without speaking out and getting them to see, that this is where it could all end for everyone, including them.

I wrote a free ebook about this over 10 years ago, type heaven or hell it's your choice into Google. It's free so this is not me trying to make money, this is me still continuing a stream of consciousness that has lasted most of my life.

I am a tired older being of 46 years of age and I see things like the UK Government making unemployed people into slaves to a system, with their new Help to work program, that may as well say - your poor - do as we say. Which is like slow boiling a proverbial frog, I see the future they are trying to engineer. Eventually you will have roughly two sides, 1.rich 1. poor, the poor will be micro managed by the rich.

Job skills will be matched to work available in the area you live, the poor will get some kind of electronic message saying do this work or you will get no money this week. This is social engineering on a grand scale, you will have no rights or say so, as you will be fighting a machine running an algorithm.

This is part n parcel of the march towards the singularity, your CV is you, to the machine. You will be monitored 24/7 & your location tracked, if you don't turn up for the work allocated, then they will more than likely know why and punish you financially.

So do we just let this happen, do we even get a say in this Micro managing of the masses, towards a Singularity outcome!

Share:
  • thumb
    May 26 2014: Alan, You express Tehnological Singularity (The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature) and then evolve into the problem with soclalism and social programs associated with socialism.

    When we allow government to grow beyond the scope and control of the population and to indulge in Keynesian economics ... we have a imbalance caused by big government, a Nanny State, and a lack oif budgetary concerns with no relationship to GDP and economic growth. The end result is where we see many nations of the EU at today.

    This is social engineering and we have allowed it ... and even endorsed it. Until the socialist / liberal / progressive political views are understood and the consequences are expressed the march will continue. At issue really lis the available history that defines different governments ... strengths ... weaknesses ... terminal outcomes of each ... which we ignore. History even tells us of great nations who have embraced XX style of government and their failure ... most dramatic is Argentina of 1916. From a world leader to a bankrupt failue in a mere year after the election of a socialist to office. The USA is following that pattern and we are now on the very edge of depression and recession.

    I do not fear a technological Singularity ... I do fear any leader that takes us from prosparity to 17 trillion dollars in debit in six years ... technology will never rival of the stupidity of man.

    The answer to most things can be found well documented in the history and the economical history of a nation.

    Computers, AI, and associated advancements are only as good as those who design and program them.

    Remember that computers are TOMs ... Totally Obedient Machines.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • thumb
    May 3 2014: Oh, well. This is all up to us - we shall choose where we are going... as you've mentioned already.

    We are the masses who are creating all these manipulating-our-life-and-mentality problems --- not the capitalistic rich!! These are not at all guilty - it's us!! who let a bunch of small-minded manipulators rule our world. We are too lazy to think for ourselves and too ignorant to make our own choices, or learn how to make our local life more sustainable and meaningless for each of us. All we know is to complain!

    Just imagine, if we all stop buying junk from gigantic manufacturers one day - then do we need a revolution or war against those manipulating systems? The solution is in our own hands - we shall learn how to ignore those who are controlling us. Those who are controlling us ironically depend on us 100% because we provide them with our stupid daily support of their blind consumers or workers/slaves. Cheers!
    • thumb
      May 3 2014: This sums up a lot:-
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX-P4mx1FLU
      Most people are ignorant by design, not by choice. If we where all educated up to the highest possible standard, then the people at the top would suddenly find themselves under threat and face competition, so it is in the rich and power-full's interest to keep most of us down, in debt and to busy working so as to argue with them.

      I complain, because I know what was done to me, rather than, what has been done for me. Food, water and shelter = a start, but the magicians have stacked the deck so heavily towards us serving their interests that I find my own life to be meaningless. I spent 5 years working as an electrician in a peanut packing factory, everyday I watched 400 women sit on conveyor belt lines, picking up packets of peanuts and putting them on to pieces of cardboard, just so they could be taken out and hung up at places of sale. So the next time you see a packet of peanuts hanging from a piece of cardboard, in your local pub etc, consider this, they where all put on by hand, not by machine.Some of these people had taken the job of packing peanuts on to pieces of cardboard at the age of 16 and have spent over 40 years still doing this job, it drove me insane. Multiply this by the world, Foxcon factories etc and their answer to suicide at their places of work, is to put up nets, not to improve working conditions.

      This world makes me mad, because I try to make others see, that what is going on is stupid and wrong so much of the time, but a profit motivated system is insane, when you see the true human cost.

      What I am trying to convey is a sense of depth to the general ignorance I see all around me. The Singularity is not even a word in the heads of most of the working class, ideology is not even a word in their heads, the human race is about to be catapulted into a new age, very soon and yet I see the masses as largely still asleep.

      I joined TED because I was tired of being told to shut up:)
      • thumb
        May 4 2014: Never shut up, Alan. Well, we must face this - the majority of people need some leader , even most likely they would not notice what sort of startup leads them. Many of us are incapable to think for ourselves and make moves by ourselves. We have to be pushed. This psychology is the core of our major problems.

        If we were all highly intelligent innovative and knowledgeable we would not need any governments or controlling our existence industries..

        We would be happy to cooperate and co-exist peacefully, among ourselves and with nature.

        This is not the case - nature does not make us all equally bright or talented or fair. Every outstanding talent is struggling, choked in crowds' horrific stupidity, squeezed by those who're moving around blindly and brainlessly. Why? Would need a different topic.
  • thumb
    May 24 2014: Ahh, got it, and good for you to be reaching out in search of a broader community.

    Your questions, and observations are good ones, but I cannot say that I believe that the world was ever different in terms of social structure; few at the top and most at the bottom.
    My notion is that being different in thought and practice keeps one relevant, and somewhere comfortably in the middle of the pack.

    Here are some references.

    http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2048299,00.html

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/

    A suggestion might be to try writing some short stories about the near future. I think you might have the talent.
    • thumb
      May 24 2014: I spent 8 years writing a book
      http://www.heaven-or-hell-its-your-choice.com/
      and I did not receive a single dime for years of work and effort + recommendations by smart people etc, but none of this helps me, that's why I get frustrated. I live in an area of society that expects you to be a plumper or a factory worker (which I was). My local society has yet to catch up with me in general, I have never heard any of the locals ever talk in any kind of depth about any of this stuff.

      I can say hey one of the top A.I. scientists in the world had his mind changed by me, I also talked to Prof Noam Chomsky the other day - it's a big case of so what. I met one of the top hackers in the word in Holland, my mum rang me up to tell me Bill Gates was on the TV, I said so, she said - isn't that the guy you met in Holland!

      My normal is so far removed from street people shall we say, yet I live in an amongst their thoughts everyday, they are in general - bewilderingly ignorant and at so many levels it really can be amazing when I see smart people talk, only for average people so often to completely miss the point of whats really being said,

      I have sometimes used the expression "The Man" only to be met with "what man" as a reply. This is part n parcel of how it feels to be labeled as stupid, by ignorant people because I won't fit in with them. I think what I am trying to say, is that at street level there is a deathly silence when it comes to any of this stuff, but it is this stuff that is going to land on them soon, I keep wondering how will they react.

      I have often read Kurzweil's stuff and 100 other tech sites and magazines everyday for over 30 years, all this info in my head does nothing to put food on the table. I think there are quite a few of us in the world with very forward thinking minds, but we feel trapped into a kind of quiet despondency, due to the environment we find ourselves somewhat trapped in.

      Name dropping these people at the job center = WHO are they!
  • thumb
    May 6 2014: It's good to choose wisely when you still have a choice.
  • May 5 2014: I look at the Singularity the way I look at the Rapture. It will be the end of the Human race. Assuming the resulting AI doesn't just kill us all, which I find HIGHLY likely, then at best it will allow for a few to assume god-like powers while the rest suffer horribly. With so little time left before its predicted birth we do not as a species have enough time to develop a new morality - something universally accepted that would save us all. Therefore it will be some elietist, some Hitler, some rich and powerful person who makes the first step. It has the potential to give god-like powers, as you noted, but not just one god. Rather you'll have Hitlers and Ghandis, Christs and anti-Christs. The carnage will end our race.

    Science Fiction has spent a lot of time on this subject. Will one kill all as in 'Forbidden Planet'? Will we rebel in time and ban all thinking machines as in 'Dune'? Will we be enslaved like in the 'Matrix'? Will we be controlled like in 'Collosus: The Forbin Project.'? Will we coexist like Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek? Or be whimsicaly omnipotent like 'Q' in Star Trek? Whatever it is, it will NOT be Human any more.

    I have little faith in things like Asimov's Four Laws of Robotics protecting us. So all I can do is beg the creators to make sure the thing has an 'OFF' switch.
    • thumb
      May 5 2014: Wow - I can see the thinking in you sir, I am impressed. I don't think any of us can accurately predict an outcome, but your reasoning is sound on many counts.

      There is a part of me that hopes that our current understanding of freewill is not applicable in this potential future. So as want, need, hunger etc are all eliminated, then we could all grow beyond any current human limiting factors, in both abilities and thinking, resulting in a human evolutionary step towards a deeper understanding of what is right for all.

      I do agree that Asimov's 4 laws are unworkable, simply speaking, machines would have to be smarter than us, so as to implement them properly. I don't think an OFF switch will be possible, as I am sure your well aware. I just hope that some semblance or essence of the best of humanity is left inside these new higher beings, for lack of better way of putting it.

      THE END OF THE HUMAN RACE AS WE KNOW IT, is all we are talking about here, these questions are now becoming real, so the people alive today are the ones that are going to determine, the future of the species, in a way no other generation has. Silence is all I hear at street level, this is pure BS or Sci-Fi for most so called normal people.

      Sport's, the economy, what's on TV etc, can I pay the next bill (actually that last one is me as well), but you get the idea, most people are going to be very shocked to hear that this stuff is becoming as real as it is. I have been reading tech stuff for decades, also watching industry / politics and the mindset of the masses and I see nobody of any substance, doing anything to really tackle this, They are all charging forward technologically speaking, trying to make a buck, without much consideration for the true potential cost to the species.

      I may come off as a negative person on all this, but it's more concern, rather than doom and gloom. If we get it right, then there is no reason we can't all have a better future.
  • May 4 2014: I'm stocking up with tinned fish.
  • thumb
    May 3 2014: When it comes to production human beings are far too costly and inefficient. automation and robotics will always be more profitable than hiring human beings. Technology never demands more pay, never takes breaks or vacations, never gets sick, pregnant or moves away, never wants weekends off and never steals supplies or absconds with the company's earnings.

    Of course this applies to the management side as well for all the above reasons as well as sucking up huge salaries and expensive perks.

    So sure, production will insist upon eliminating the human component from the process as much as possible. Ultimately all we will be good for is consumption and even that can become extremely costly and inefficient.
  • thumb
    May 3 2014: The dystopian future you present is not what the singularity is about. It's about when computers gets smarter than us. The implications of this, are that it's impossible to predict our future as a civilization past this point.

    The future I am hoping for as the Singularity arrives, is one where anyone can dramatically extend their intelligence, life span, health, awareness, and so much more than we can imagine. Not a split between the rich and poor as is so often depicted in science fiction. But a future brighter than we can imagine.

    A blog posting from 100 years in the future:

    Who mourns for the once proud Human Race, now that the last humans have died off or merged with the global intelligence? Pre-singularity, humans thought they were so special, worth protecting their form exactly as they were.

    But now who longs to actually inhabit a fleshy body and walk upon the Earth, as humans once did? How could they possibly have imagined the ecstatic, transcendent experiences we have now, post singularity? They couldn't know what they were missing.
    • thumb
      May 3 2014: As you are obviously aware, the transition from now to the point of the potential and some would say inevitable Singularity, is going to be a rocky RD if you ask me, I just hope we make it and it is a good outcome for all.
      • thumb
        May 3 2014: Our history is filled with torture, genocide, and slavery to this very day. The rocky road you mention is our entire history and it is of our own making. I agree the road will get even rockier, but it's my hope that the super intelligence we will breath into life will actually be able to help us evolve and leave our history of violence, poverty, and war behind.

        It's important to remember that the definition of the Singularity you mention in your subject, is the idea that our future as a race post singularity is beyond our comprehension and impossible to predict. Not necessarily bad, or good. Just beyond.
        • thumb
          May 4 2014: I just read part of your blog and was in stitches with the sauna story :)

          I met my hero John Draper aka Captain Crunch and have to share a story in a similar vain. I was in Holland at the time just to meet him, he invited me over (long story), anyway he told a big fat lie, at this gathering of eclectic hackers and phreaks, I for the life of me can not recall exactly what he said, but I knew what he said in a technological sense at the time, was a load of BS. So his eyes then scanned all the people around the table, looking for who might have picked up on the BS he had just spun, no one did... except me.

          Our eyes met and there was this silent exchange, don't say nothing was in his eyes, in mine I just smiled and laughed internally, it's a moment like yours, you never forget them. They say never meet your heroes, unless you want to be disappointed, I wasn't, but I will always be tickled by that moment.

          By the way you have my dream job :)

          You know most people couldn't even be paid to learn the types of stuff, people like us want to learn about. I have been staring at a screen since 1979, I am obsessed with tech, doesn't help me in my real world, but I think it must be a calling or something.

          I first read about Nanotech in an article written by K. Eric Drexler in Omni magazine in the 80's and knew instantly that it was a game changer for everything and have not been quite the same since.

          Anyway - you have great day sir.
      • thumb
        May 4 2014: Since you mention Drexler and Nanotech, when Drexler came out with his Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery Manufacturing and Computation in 82, I poured over that and must have spent 2 or 3 years learning enough physics to understand what he was talking about. Then in 86 he came out with his Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology which kinda rocked my world again.

        When the level of nanotech Drexler describes intersects with the kind of intelligence predicted by the Singularity, we will have god like powers.
        • thumb
          May 4 2014: Drexler is the guy who made my mind into what it is today to a large extent, I walked around in a daze after reading some of his stuff. I have never looked at the world the same way since, I kept thinking God if everyone knew this stuff, what would they think, its beyond any kind of rational debate. This is a species changing technology and will give us the ability to make machines far more capable than anything even Sci-Fi could dream up.

          I kept thinking that machines this capable could do almost anything and then when I put humans into the equation, then I could see no role for us at least in any kind of normal way. Hawking said basically we either modify humans or become extinct, I agree. The issue is the road from now, to the point at which the rest of humanity gets on this bus with us, it is going to be an insane ride if you ask me, you know how humans can react.

          Maybe they will just out evolve us so fast, a kind of macro-evolution, that we will all just be kept as pets!

          The grey goo issue was one of those things I was thinking about in the 80's, I kept thinking, one wrong line of code in a Nano assembler and we could all be in a lot of trouble, it just blew my mind.

          Wow I so rarely get to converse with anyone at this level - so I sincerely thank you.

          I used to talk to Prof, Jordan B Pollack at Brandies university a fair bit about this kind of stuff, my book changed his work ethic when it came to certain aspects of A.I. etc (http://jordanpollack.com/sevenlaws.pdf) end of page 4 :)

          I really enjoy talking about this stuff, but Drexler ruined my outlook on the future as there really wasn't anything left for me to postulate upon. After the Singularity, I thought well nothing that we worry about now, will be worth thinking about anyway. My biggest concern , which is somewhat why I wrote my book, was will the human race make it to the Singularity.

          This really has been good for my soul, so thank you once again.
          Call me HAL everyone does (old hacker handle).
    • May 4 2014: You don't remember the Futurists, do you?
      • thumb
        May 4 2014: I must admit I don't remember the Futurists. Would you enlighten me please?
        • May 5 2014: It was an early 20th century movement that glorified technology and all the "progress" that was inevitable with it. It essentially embraced dehumanization in the name of "progress" and went extinct in the 1930s, when compassion became more popular among most people.
      • thumb
        May 4 2014: Not sure what he means either, a futurist is to my mind a job like the one Danger has!.
        My mind is thinking is this some TV show I missed :)
      • thumb
        May 6 2014: A key difference between that early 20th century movement and the attitude I'm describing, is that they did not have a glimmer of a hope of actually enhancing and transforming human reality in the dramatic kinds of ways that many now predict. They could not meaningfully anticipate the kind of advanced artificial intelligence referenced by the Singularity, or predict the kind of complete control over matter described by Drexler (and Rudy Rucker on the SciFi side).

        The attitude I've been describing here is not dehumanizing at all. The word "de-humanizing" means to deprive someone of positive human qualities, and I don't think that way. My own thinking is closer to accelerated evolution by conscious choice, as opposed to evolution by natural selection.
        • thumb
          May 7 2014: I just noticed your post (still finding my way around the TED GUI).
          I really hope your right in your thinking about this, "My own thinking is closer to accelerated evolution by conscious choice, as opposed to evolution by natural selection."

          This is an interesting time to be human, we are so close to something and yet we are all still human, it feels like we will be the last generation who will suffer from this affliction :)

          In my newest comments I make reference to this all being a simulation of sorts and to my thinking, this would be the most interesting part of a species evolution to witness, so why not re-create and watch it, if not experience it. I have no proof of this of course, but my own real attempts to change the world have had me come to realize, that I am a character living within a walled garden. I know your a man who might grasp this, when you push up against the walls of the simulation, sometimes the simulation is forced to push back.

          I hate to say it, but all my notions of how reality is supposed to work, does not explain some of my own undeniable experiences, that have proven to me that there is a lot more going on down here than any of us are supposed to be able to rationally scientifically explain at least yet.

          I can reduce the universe down to a wave equation and then expand my mind out to an infinity of multiverses, in the blink of an eye and see (I think) all the possibilities in-between. Of course non of this is rational conversation to most people, but then again, I don't think your most people :)

          Hal
  • thumb
    May 3 2014: "The technological singularity, or simply the singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature. Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be difficult for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is often seen as an occurrence (akin to a gravitational singularity) beyond which the future course of human history is unpredictable or even unfathomable.

    The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. In 1958, regarding a summary of a conversation with von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam described "ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue". The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity. Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann's use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann's classic The Computer and the Brain.

    Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an "intelligence explosion", where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent's cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.

    Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur around 2045 whereas Vinge predicts some time before 2030. At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial general intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040 ... " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity
    • thumb
      May 3 2014: All I have to say to you, is thanks, I don't claim to know everything and you have filled in a few blank spots in my head. I am usually to busy trying to make enough money so as to pay the next bill, so it is really nice to come home to a nice conversation, rather than my usual:-
      http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-gang-20-men-beat-7031589
      Road next to mine

      I have gotten used to it, but intelligent conversation this is one of those things, that I have really been missing, God I should have joined TED earlier :)

      Thanks for all your feedback, this really does feel like a good place to be.
  • thumb
    May 2 2014: Alan,

    I feel your pain. The capitalistic economic system leading to the demise of mankind. So, what's the alternative economic system that won't destroy mankind? Who do we have to kill not to reach the event horizon, figuratively speaking?
    I would remiss in saying that I wouldn't feel a sense of loss... after all capitalism was born from the bartering system that developed at the dawn of modern human civilization when we came out of the forests and settled into villages and farms. Mankind has tried a number of variants over the years.... differing governance using differing economic models after 12,000 years, we have come back to capitalism...for the most part...
    The system is being manipulated by government as it has been in the past, but it seems governments can't keep their hands off of it. After all it is a system... a way of doing things and it is subject to foils of mankind.
    But, you seem to feel the system will take us over the edge.... Oh well, see you on the other side.
    • thumb
      May 2 2014: I hope the other side is better than this side.

      My good friend Bob and this is not a joke, had a heart attack today, he was forced to take a job that he was physically not in any state to take, but lack of money and benefit sanctions etc, left him with very few options. First day on the job and he collapses, from a heart attack - now that's a real killer system they are promoting, who cares, hey.

      The funny thing to me, is that in the old days.they would just work the slaves to death, but now they have the technology to save them. which costs the so called tax payer billions and then have the audacity to ask people how long do you think it will take before your ready to go back to the minimum wage job that almost killed you.

      Money the worlds greatest delusion.
      • thumb
        May 2 2014: Sorry to hear of your friend's bad luck. I have no idea why he would have taken a job that he was physically unable to do. I was faced with such a choice several years ago and made the choice not to challenge my physical wellbeing, Again, everyone has their choices, some are not the best.

        You make a point about slaves being worked to death. .I am not sure of the slavery issues in England but have read about the issue here in the states. Plantation owners paid $1000 for a young strong slave. No small amount. Unlike the movies and novels about cruel slave owners, most looked after their slaves, insuring they were fed and cared.

        Yes, technology has replaced people in many tasks and there are more people then available jobs in many sectors of the economy, I am not sure how this technology cost the taxpayers. Again, most technologies that replaces workers here is funded by the businesses. involved.

        The last point where your friend was asked when he was to return to work after his heart attack. Again, I am not familiar with English practices. Here, if you are disabled as by a heart attack, you are placed on a disability income until you are able to return to work.

        Your conversation seems to be orientated to England and situations that may be unique to your society. I am not saying that we don't have many problems here that have people in difficult situations. Businesses downsize, that is removing a number of people from their jobs for any number of reasons. Businesses close because their product and services are no longer marketable, People lack skills and training to do the jobs that are available. A thousand things.
        But I do know one thing. Any business that is out to market some goods or services needs at least four things to be successful: a place to work, materials to work with, people to do the work and capital in the form of time and money, People are the most important.
        Why would you want your business to fail? Nobody would.
      • May 4 2014: Prove that some socialist apparatchik won't order someone to take a job he's not suited for.
        • thumb
          May 4 2014: I am not actually sure why you think we are discussing socialism or maybe I have the wrong end of the stick as they say. I think most ideologies are pretty stupid at heart. Like I have said, the Zeitgeist movement addresses ideologies in general the same way I do. Human beings have basic needs, that we have to address first, then we might be able to go on from there & then build junk we don't need.

          Building toys and junk is all very nice, but if you walk into Disneyland and see a person outside holding a sign saying I will work for food, then I have some serious questions about the sanity of the human race.

          So in answer to your "prove that" statement, I have no doubt that functionaries of any ideology will tell you what to do, but the point of this discuss was for me to let off some steam about the ever impending Singularity and to see what others thought about it.

          Although I think I took a tangent into how the political elite manipulate us all for their own ends and what they perceive as the so called greater good. My friend having a heart attack, his first day on the job and having to take the job due to his lack of money, is once again just prove of the irrationality of almost every ideology.

          Ideology won't feed any of us, only a logical understanding of the resources available and how many mouths need to be fed will. The developed world can feed everybody, quite well, but I genuinely know people who wait at food banks, just so they can make ends meet.

          This is why I get annoyed, I can go around the back of any food store I know and at the end of the night, there will be mountains of stuff thrown out and put in landfill. The work that goes into maintaining this insanity amazes me, That's why as I see it, as the Singularity approaches, more and more people are going to have to start thinking in a very different way about how we all work and interact, otherwise we are all in a kind of peril.

          Machines, don't yet care about us, I just hope they will.
  • thumb
    May 26 2014: Thanks but having studied A.I. in depth I have to beg to differ on some of your assumptions,

    "Computers, AI, and associated advancements are only as good as those who design and program them.
    Remember that computers are TOMs ... Totally Obedient Machines."

    I do not have enough room to explain all I know so I will try to sum this up as simply as I can, the closer we get to manipulating matter at the atomic level, the closer we will get to building systems that are just as capable as we are. So unless you are prepared to say that the human race is sentient due to some kind of magical or divine intervention, then the conclusion is obvious - we will / then they will design intelligences far superior to are own or so different from us, that the only way we will be able to keep up, will be if we augment ourselves.

    I can program them by the way, so let me tell you - they are beginning to grow beyond Totally Obedient Machines. Within 10 years we will begin to see some radical technologies impact us all and as for not fearing a species level event (all species), then that's nice to say, but I just hope you realize, that YOU won't be you anymore. It's a real case of OMG or is it a case of OM we are the new potential Gods, I don't worry so much about the Singularity - I worry about the road from now till then.

    If we make it then it could be heaven or hell (http://www.heaven-or-hell-its-your-choice.com/) :)

    I wish you well Hal.
  • thumb
    May 24 2014: The explanation that is offered here is very confusing; is the discussion about humankind becoming a singularity or being denied access to becoming one? Is it about robots taking away jobs?

    "The first use of the term "singularity" in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. In 1958, regarding a summary of a conversation with von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam described "ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue".[3] The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity.[4] Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann's use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann's classic The Computer and the Brain."

    We (in the Western world) are already, to a large degree, "augmented," (make something greater by adding to it; increase). We propel ourselves across time and space at rapid rates, we exchange information at the speed of light, etc.

    Additionally, those in less advantaged places migrate to developed countries for these very advantages. Is this the real issue, that labor is being outsourced leaving those that are ill equipped to adapt at a disadvantage?
    • thumb
      May 24 2014: Hi and thanks tor chiming in, I guess my conversation is about the fact that I just wanted to talk about it. Simply speaking there ain't a lot of talk about science, tech, physics etc between me and most of my locals, so I started this conversation just so as I could have one. I read Drexlers nanotech stuff in the 80's and kept thinking you know what, this is a game changer for everyone, so here I am 30 years later looking at most of the world, but it seems most people are still just asleep.

      I keep thinking that as this is a species level event (all species actually), then why is it that most of the powers that be and most of the general public either treat all this as sci-fi nonsense or are just oblivious. I guess that it is up to people who are in the know to keep trying to make everyone see, that this is no longer sci-fi this is very real stuff and it is about to land at their front door with a nano big bang.

      I read tech stuff all day, but as tech is now feeding on tech and is moving so fast, then we are rapidly seeing most unskilled ordinary humans being reduced to a form of economic slavery. Most humans (me included), have no options in the sense of having to join in with a system that doesn't seem to be looking any further, than how do we make the next $. At some levels this is not true, but at street level, I am seeing a lot of people being pushed around and forced to take jobs.

      I also see how this will pan out in the short term and the thinking of the man at the top, people without money will be tracked and micro-managed virtually from birth. I keep thinking it will all be spun by the media they own, into something gaudy, just like the never ending petty crime shows the powers that be commission, which I see as a kind or reinforcement technique keeping most of us thinking small.

      I guess I see what's happening at street level and I then get annoyed, because the system just tells me to get a job, but doesn't seem to factor any of this stuff in.
  • May 20 2014: Universe has no sense of right or wrong. After five billion years the thing got created that can talk like we do here.

    Either we all get destroyed or replaced or made like ants in a colonies, it has no meaning beyond that it exist.

    We are living in best times a rare combinations of forces has brought us here. Our fate or travails are non events except like you got stomach upset it is a event for you.

    One mass of clump of matter reacting to other mass that is all it is. we will play the game designed for us at a point in time and place. To ascribe a meaning to it is futile exercise.
  • thumb
    May 7 2014: The profit motivated A.I. ARMS race heats up:-
    http://phys.org/news/2014-05-smart-tech-companies-resources-artificial.html#nRlv
    I wonder if I can afford to eat tomorrow?

    That's my take on the absurdity of real life, billions spent on RnD to develop machines that will put most people out of their current occupations, with no consideration for the mass unemployment this could bring about. The old adage of why not just retrain people, will not cut much ice, as virtual assistants and machines that are cheaper and more capable, to run than us, come to be seen by business as a better bet.

    Profit vs sanity, the coming transition is going to be a hell of a wild ride, if a lot of the population doesn't starve because, they have no money, to buy the food a plenty, that is being produced by these machines.

    I am cynic at heart - the system is not nice, to the unskilled middle aged, it just say's get a job, in fact it just seems to say, the only reason you where born, was to get a job. That's why JOB centers are called that, they are not called "you have no money centers" - because this might lead the people who have to attend such places, into questioning what is happening and God forbid, it might lead some of them into questioning what the system really is about - MONEY - not JOBS.

    Job center = not thinking about the root cause of the issue at hand, i.e. you have no money, that's why the rich can be as unemployed as they like and in effect lay around if they so wish and even have no job and no one will force them to do much of anything, as long as they have money. Poor people just get told to get jobs, not money, I reckon, that's because if they where told to get money rather than a job, then some of them may learn some kind of critical thinking and higher reasoning skills.

    I believe we live in a culture of manipulated ignorance, especially the lower you go in a society.
    Don't believe me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AnB8MuQ6DU
  • thumb
    May 7 2014: I guess I had better just talk to myself :)
    I have said this elsewhere and some have thought it a crazy notion and other have seen it as a revelation:-

    E - Experimental
    A - Artificial
    R - Reality
    T - Testing
    H - Habitat

    I have often thought that in a future in which death has no meaning and you had God like powers, then running simulations of the past would be as easy as snapping ones God like fingers. The Matrix can be likened to the plug your brain in method, but I would say it would be just as easy to create an artificial reality. Which is my hunch for what is happening right now on planet EARTH.

    There are so many people who report that they have experienced something beyond what our current level of understanding of physics can explain, that it seems to me that calling this reality all there is, is a little naive. I am a man of science, I am not religious and think that if the human race or any race had gone way beyond the point of the Singularity, then creating as real a simulations as possible would be a bit of fun for them.

    Like playing chess, but with artificially constructed characters, with their own minds, their own perceived will and each character controlled in some way. I think a film called INK (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1071804/), is a kind of example of my thinking on this. I no longer see random chance, I believe it is much more like a game, with good and bad sides, playing us all.

    The good and the bad sides keep moving pieces around, they keep using us in mostly imperceptible ways. The problem with some of these chess pieces (US), is that even though most of us are not supposed to be aware of what is happening, I believe that the sheer sophistication of our construction and their necessary interactions, allows some of us to see when it is happening. Some would describe this in terms of good and evil, God and the Devil etc, but I see it differently, I see this as the most sophisticated game ever created - AMD & NVIDIA have yet to catch up.
  • thumb
    May 6 2014: Choice is at the heart of this debate, this is about us as a species still making a choice about how this goes. There may soon come a point in which we the people are left with no choices as such.

    I see how the powerful think, everyone should get a job, but in a world that is becoming increasingly automated, then this is not possible, this is one of my points. Intelligence, knowledge and wisdom count for very little in the capitalist world, MONEY at least at my level in society seems to be the only thing that does.

    People are being pushed to earn money, but that does not solve problems, as I said people can produce Disney toys all day long, that makes money (for some), but it really doesn't solve any real problems. I think this is why I quit my job in the peanut factory, no one stood up and said, hey don't you think that there maybe a better use for human beings than this.

    No one at my school was taught about politics / economics / how the mind works or how money works in our society etc. A friend of mine who went to a better school than I, said didn't you have career advisers etc, I said I did meet some guy in a room for 5 minutes who asked me what job I might want after school, I said, "I don't know", he said OK, here is a bunch of pamphlets, tell the next kid to come in after you leave.

    Like I said its a magic trick, as Feyisayo below say's choice is at the heart of the matter, if the choices presented to you are so limited, so as to constrain your options into the choices others want you to have, then have you really made a choice at all.

    The powers that be are now engineering a system of choice for the poor, that comes down to this, are you well off enough to decide what you want to do with your life, because if your not, then you will be guided down the paths they wish you to choose, not the ones you may want for yourself. Don't get me wrong it has always been like this, but it's awful at my level, to know that my free choices, where mere illusions.
  • thumb
    May 5 2014: I loved Marvin, so smart and yet so depressed, I can sometimes relate :)

    ALL as you say is an issue and I do understand your point completely, but as I can only generalize in some respects, due to this 2000 character post issue, that I am limited to. Also people get bored so quick with small minded discussions, so you have to go after the largest possible audience (that was my attempt at humor).

    I know that evil people exist (have you met my ex) anyway you have to understand that people are only evil for selfish reasons in general. If we ALL had God like powers, then we would also ALL possibly have God like wisdom = Peace on Earth, just a thought.
  • May 5 2014: You keep saying 'We All...' in your discussions. That's the point I'm stuck on. While there are a wide variety of things which would improve the human condition, there is nothing that would improve 'ALL', because humans vary widely. Given god-like powers some would still chose to hurt others.

    Perhaps we'll get a different result: once self-aware, the new god-AI falls into total dispair and kills itself. Kinda like Marvin the robot on 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' Or the elevators in that same tome: Given AI and limited precognition so they could anticipate where someone would need an elevator, only to wind up spending all their time sulking in the basement.

    We can only hope. ;)
  • thumb
    May 5 2014: "Bryan Maloney
    You don't remember the Futurists, do you?
    It was an early 20th century movement that glorified technology and all the "progress" that was inevitable with it. It essentially embraced dehumanization in the name of "progress" and went extinct in the 1930s, when compassion became more popular among most people."

    Now I get what your on about, thanks for the clarification, I do remember reading about this movement, but it was like over 20 years ago, so I actually had to shake the rusticles loose from my memory banks, so thanks for that.

    I guess I am steering this conversation so I guess I will just add, that I just watched Transcendence and without giving the end away, I had considered a version of the films ending over 20 years ago. It really seems to me that the benefits vs the dystopian view some think I have, is the reason I started this conversation. I am a man who lives on knowledge and it is rare to find any input I have not heard a million times before.

    As I was saying to Danger Lampost (love that) below, Drexler (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._Eric_Drexler), inspired me in my teens with future visions that most people still have no awareness of. The future we all may soon face is both terrifying and amazing at the same time.

    The ultimate expression of the man machine interface is A.I. and as most big software companies are now using interactive user feedback loops, an example of this is (http://www.engadget.com/2014/05/02/xbox-one-kinect-improvement/), then we will see that machines will increasingly learn directly from us. As was said by the MCP in the original Tron movie, no one user wrote me, I am worth millions of their man years. This is part n parcel of the Singularity, we seem to be on a one way path, that is being decided for us by big business and the capitalist drive for more profit.

    I wrote in my book a long time ago, if the USA gets strong A.I. then the Soviets will want it, then the Chinese etc, you get the point.
  • thumb
    May 4 2014: Wow - I love some of your words - it's nice to know I am in the right place. I am constantly battered by my environment and find it difficult not to be swept away be the choking crowd :)
  • May 4 2014: So how is this outcome any different from socialism/communism?
    • thumb
      May 4 2014: Please inform yourself about the technological Singularity first then ask yourself the same question. Ideological systems are not what this is truly about, this is about a species level game changing event that no one can potentially do anything about.
  • thumb
    May 4 2014: I need to add that my free ebook is in a state of disrepair, I have had very little quality time to bring it up to date and also I gave up. If CMS systems such as Wordpress etc existed when I had started it then I would have done it that way, but all I had was office and frontpage at the time and a book I had written in word.

    I gave it away for free and have never seen a single donation in my PP account from it in 14 years, not one. This is not me begging, it is part n parcel of my observation of the capitalist system, over 8 years of hard work, good recommendations etc = no reward what so ever financially, made my soul feel better though. Only a very small number of locals shall we say even know who any of the people who recommended my book actually are. My book does not help me, in my situation, it actually means nothing to employers.

    In response to "Never shut up, Alan" from Vera below, then I will describe a part of my life experience that sums up so much shall we say, about this knowledge divide. My mother rang me up and said, "hey Al that Bill Gates guy is on the TV, I said OK, she then said, isn't that the guy you met in Holland!". In conversation with my father, I mentioned Stephen Hawking, he said and I quote, "who's that, another one of your stupid mates". What I am trying to convey is not my parents ignorance, but a genuine disconnect between shall we say, US and them. Open minded people share and talk to other open minded people, explore possibilities, they on the other hand seem to only see things when they are blindingly obvious to the social group they are in.

    So the Singularity is a none starter, conversation wise at this point, with most of my locals, simply speaking I know that unless there is a movie about it, then they will not even take 30 seconds out of their busy schedules to even contemplate it's meaning. Hopefully the new Transcendence movie will make more people aware and more discuss at my local level will help me sleep better :)
  • thumb
    May 2 2014: "But it did, it seems to have taught you to be critical in your view, to challenge what you see as wrong doing. That skill is about the best lesson you could learn"

    I would not say my education made me critical, I actually know exactly what event in my life turned my mind into an observer, rather than just a passive passenger. I always thought Canada would be a great place to live and I also thought that Canadians are some of the nicest people I have ever talked to.

    The system is a pyramid, with most people being subjugated to the will of the people at the top of it. As for us failing, then I only halve agree. I am a Zeitgeist kinda person:-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2FPZrbYWK0
    I believe in the message in general, but would love to see the rest of the world get on board and turn some of these ideas into a true reality, but I believe capitalism would cut down the last tree on earth if we let it. Making a buck is just more important than anything else, the problem for the rest of us is that, it is the capitalists who are winning in this global mind game, which is just such a shame.

    Nice speaking to you Mike - this is my first ever conversation on TED and it is such a pleasant place, my mind is so often having to fill in blanks for others and most of the time most people just think I am stupid, crazy or just totally misguided. Most of the locals shall we say talk about sport, the weather or local news, it drives me nuts, so I spend most of my time with my mouth shut, as opening it can so often put me in a position of physical harm.
  • thumb
    May 2 2014: I have no idea why he would have taken a job that he was physically unable to do.
    The answer to the above is simple - bills and not enough money to pay them and a benefits system that has now turned into something very dark and sinister in my opinion. It is like a smiling assassin, with a trust us we will do you no harm banner written on the front door, but God help you, if you don't have any money, then you are at the mercy of what I can now only describe as, a very ruthless system of psychological manipulation and coercion.

    I genuinely know people who are suicidal because of this new system. My book was based in part around how the system has engineered some peoples minds from the outset to be nothing more than what the system itself wanted them to be, people don't believe me when I tell them that. So I do try my best to show them how the magic trick works, watch just 5 minutes worth of this and then you may see more clearly what it is I am trying to say.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f08Ggo5K4fI - made in my home town in 1976

    or this is a more in your face representation of what is going on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZwfNs1pqG0
    And if you really want to understand all this in detail, then this is a journey you should all go on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OazUh0Ym8rc&list=PL3_IKOskMfTlYy2f6Gc8kkW4TKeZQd50K
    And this:-
    http://vimeo.com/87419450

    I have spent a lifetime trying to understand shall we say, where am I, what is going on, why is it like this and who or what am I. The system and my education did not give me any answers to any of these kind of questions, which left me with a gaping hole in my life. It has taken me a lifetime to realize the game that is being played with most of us. Like I said, it's like a magic trick, you end up picking the proverbial card (job in this case), they want you to pick and yet most people still think it was a choice they made freely for themselves.

    Stacking the deck is pure physiological warfare.
    • thumb
      May 2 2014: Alan,
      I am very aware of people becoming very believing in a system that was to take care of them and they were failed by the system whether through design or incompetency, regardless they were failed. You have taken to faulting the system for failure. I fault us, the people. You said that people are fooled by slight of hand. I say why are people putting there lives on the line to some.... faceless bureaucracy. You acknowledge your education did not prepare you. But it did, it seems to have taught you to be critical in your view, to challenge what you see as wrong doing. That skill is about the best lesson you could learn
      But here is your problem. You live in a democracy, people want to believe in slight of hand, shady politicians will trick the people at every opportunity. Worse, when you call out those politicians, his constituents will turn on you saying that it is not their candidate that made the lousy system that hurts people, it was those others.... and the system will carry on. What can you do? I would say.... move to Canada. The Canadians seem to still have their governmental systems under control.
  • thumb
    May 1 2014: I actually know people who are suicidal because of this new Help to work program, they are treated like children in a classroom style environment. I actually know what this is like, the only answer that is acceptable to the person on the other side of the desk, is yes I am looking for work and here is the proof of what I did to look for work this week and if you do not comply then your unemployment benefits will be cut.

    There is no dialog or recourse and many of the people on the other side of the desk, say they hate what it is they are doing, but they have bills to pay and if they do not meet their targets then they could also find themselves out of a job. Eventually they will replace these people with faceless machines, just like in Elysium when Matt Damon's character met his automated parole officer. We will see this erosion of free will, reduced to, are you poor, then do as we say, because we are already there in some ways.
  • May 1 2014: Make less profit. Work less hard.
  • May 1 2014: People get bored. They won't put up with it.