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Kurzweil Responds: Don’t Underestimate the Singularity
Posted: 28 October 2011 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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IMO, he makes a good defense of his predictions:

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/guest/27263/

There have been regular predictions that Moore’s law will come to an end. The semiconductor industry’s roadmap titled projects seven-nanometer features by the early 2020s. At that point, key features will be the width of 35 carbon atoms, and it will be difficult to continue shrinking them. However, Intel and other chip makers are already taking the first steps toward the sixth paradigm, which is computing in three dimensions to continue exponential improvement in price performance. Intel projects that three-dimensional chips will be mainstream by the teen years. Already three-dimensional transistors and three-dimensional memory chips have been introduced.

A word on the nature of Watson’s “understanding” is in order here. A lot has been written that Watson works through statistical knowledge rather than “true” understanding. Many readers interpret this to mean that Watson is merely gathering statistics on word sequences. The term “statistical information” in the case of Watson refers to distributed coefficients in self-organizing methods such as Markov models. One could just as easily refer to the distributed neurotransmitter concentrations in the human cortex as “statistical information.” Indeed, we resolve ambiguities in much the same way that Watson does by considering the likelihood of different interpretations of a phrase.

[ Edited: 28 October 2011 10:06 AM by domokato ]
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Posted: 28 October 2011 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That was an excellent article HouseCat - thanks for sharing it.

There’s no doubt that Kurzweil is a brilliant man. I hope he is correct again with his predictions. At least I think I hope he’s correct. He does make several excellent points regarding technology (software and hardware). When I completed my computer science/electrical engineering program back in the early 80’s, I was required to take math through diff eq’s and linear algebra. Today, that math education is not enough. Indeed, the most important math course today is titled discrete mathematics - a course that wasn’t even available when I was in school but have since taken. Discrete math is responsible for many of the incredible software improvements that Kurzweil mentions.

If I have any reservations WRT what Kurzweil predicts (and I do), the most important is that I wonder just how much of what we call emotion figures into what we call intellect. YES, a “personality” algorithm could be programmed I suppose, but I personally would not know where to begin with such an endeavor.

But, as always, this is an incredibly interesting topic. If Kurzweil is even close in his estimation, then hold on to your seats.

Edit to add: Kurzweil also takes lots of supplements to extend life; an idea that was discouraged on another thread here recently.

[ Edited: 29 October 2011 08:38 AM by traveler ]
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Posted: 02 December 2011 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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This would be an interesting guy to have on point of inquiry….

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Posted: 04 March 2012 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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.

[ Edited: 04 March 2012 11:23 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 March 2012 11:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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traveler,
If I have any reservations WRT what Kurzweil predicts (and I do), the most important is that I wonder just how much of what we call emotion figures into what we call intellect. YES, a “personality” algorithm could be programmed I suppose, but I personally would not know where to begin with such an endeavor.

I am speaking strictly intuitive here. 
Would psychology not be able to come up with some baseline personalities? There are already many 3D games where the actors have male or female personalities. Granted these are rudimentary behaviors, but it seems that deeper information is already available and could be programmed. Can we imitate the human brain with a bicameral computer, where each side has specific functions. Or even with the three fundamental brain (id, sub-conscious, and conscious) functions themselves?

Emotion itself does not seem all that difficult. Is that not a matter of “feeling good” and “feeling bad”. Do computers today not already warn us that something is amiss, i.e. “detecting a damaged file or a virus which makes the computer “feel bad”. As I understand it with redundant systems computer 2 “asks” computer 1 how it is doing (feeling) at a constant rate. When computer 1 detects a system problem it “tells’ computer 2 that it is not feeling well and computer 2 immediately takes over, until computer 1 has diagnosed itself and repaired the problem or in the case of hardware failure, for the computer doctor to replace the faulty circuitry.

I know these logarithms may be very complicated but we have a lot of human data available for both personality and emotion and how they express themselves in behavior. Today we still have the problem of speed, but if that is advancing by leaps and bounds, that would no longer be the problem.

[ Edited: 04 March 2012 11:22 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 March 2012 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Having read Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, I can firmly state that he’s probably only about half right in what he thinks.  First of all, he thinks that Moore’s Law is involute, and that it’ll never accelerate, nor decelerate.  The reality is that technological progress is unpredictable, and there have been several announcements in recent weeks which indicate that it might be possible to completely leap frog Moore’s Law and jump to near ultimate processing power chips in just a few years, rather than taking until 2045 or so, as Kurzweil predicts.

Kurtzweil also thinks that technology will completely solve all of our problems, while failing to realistically address the downsides of the technology.  For example, Kurtzweil estimates that by 2045 you’ll be able to buy a laptop for about $1K which will have a processor so fast that it can essentially accomplish every mental computation that humanity has done in the whole of its existence, in just a few seconds.  Certainly possible and likely, IMHO.  Couple this with 3D printers that have nearly the same capabilities as a Star Trek replicator, and there’s the serious potential for disaster.  If I’m a terrorist wanting to make a nuke or a bioweapon, I no longer need millions of dollars, advance degrees, or connections to people who have the skills and resources that I lack.  I just ask my laptop (I might have to “jailbreak it” to unleash this capability, but probably not) to figure it out, load the plans into my 3D printer, and I’m Dr. Evil faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle.”

There’s a lot more, but I don’t have time to go over it.  I will note that Kurtzweil believes (though he doesn’t come right out and admit it, preferring to drop coy hints) that the universe deliberately created humanity (and we’re the only intelligent life in the universe) so that we can become Borg like beings who assimilate the universe ala V’Ger in Star Trek the Motion Picture.  Again, I don’t think that he’s completely full of feces, but I’d take anything he says with a grain of salt.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Interesting post, CT. IMO, you make some claims that are perhaps more extreme than Kurzweil’s while warning us to take what he says with a grain of salt. The 3D printer prediction is a bit outlandish, no?

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Posted: 05 March 2012 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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People have been comparing computers to the human brain for A LONG TIME.

This year is the 40th anniversary of When H.A.R.L.I.E. was One.

http://vx.netlux.org/lib/mdg00.html

The problem is that von Neumann devices are SYMBOL MANIPULATING MACHINES.  Human brains can manipulate symbols but we can also understand what the symbols mean.  Where is the computer that can reliably recognise pictures of animals?  Like tell a flock of sheep from a herd of cows or a gaggle of geese?

Today’s von Neumann machines are very impressive compared to those of 1972, but they are still brainless von Neumann machines.  Too many humans are just impressed by the bigger numbers.  In 1972 16 megabytes was A LOT of RAM and 256 megabytes was A LOT of disk space.  Now a smartphone comes with a gigabyte of RAM and 32 gigabytes of storage.  But does anyone really believe that Siri UNDERSTANDS what it hears and says or is it just doing a really fancy job of manipulating symbols?

And don’t miss:

The Adolescence of P-1 (1977) by Thomas Ryan
http://vxheavens.com/lib/mtr00.html

psik

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Posted: 05 March 2012 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The von Neumann architecture does not represent most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture. More importantly however is the fact that most computers today are not what most people think of as computers (keyboard, monitor, mouse…) but rather integral parts of things like cars, microwaves, centrifuges, watches, etc. That means that they are less symbolic machines and more real-time feedback mechanisms that allow us to build more autonomous machines as well as machines that perform tasks we cannot. Such devices include aircraft that require control surfaces to be manipulated more quickly than humanly possible, or spacecraft that capture and deal with far too much data for a human to deal with.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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traveler - 05 March 2012 09:31 AM

The von Neumann architecture does not represent most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture. More importantly however is the fact that most computers today are not what most people think of as computers (keyboard, monitor, mouse…) but rather integral parts of things like cars, microwaves, centrifuges, watches, etc. That means that they are less symbolic machines and more real-time feedback mechanisms that allow us to build more autonomous machines as well as machines that perform tasks we cannot. Such devices include aircraft that require control surfaces to be manipulated more quickly than humanly possible, or spacecraft that capture and deal with far too much data for a human to deal with.

Not to mention interactive semantic analysis machines like search engines, helpers and translators. (Read: Google, Apple’s Siri).

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Posted: 05 March 2012 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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traveler - 05 March 2012 09:31 AM

The von Neumann architecture does not represent most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture. More importantly however is the fact that most computers today are not what most people think of as computers (keyboard, monitor, mouse…) but rather integral parts of things like cars, microwaves, centrifuges, watches, etc. That means that they are less symbolic machines and more real-time feedback mechanisms that allow us to build more autonomous machines as well as machines that perform tasks we cannot. Such devices include aircraft that require control surfaces to be manipulated more quickly than humanly possible, or spacecraft that capture and deal with far too much data for a human to deal with.

Something like the oil pressure in a car is fed through an analog-to-digital converter making it a binary number which is a SYMBOL.  DSPs, Digital Signal Processors, are mostly Harvard machines I read somewhere but the only difference between a Harvard and a von Neumann is a Harvard has two memories instead of one and the programs are separate from the data.  This has no effect on the symbol manipulation characteristics.

Care to provide a link supporting the “most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture” statement.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Traveler, not at all.  Kurtzweil thinks that by 2045 3D printers will be capable of manipulating things at the subatomic level.  Even if they can only work at the molecular level, that’s good enough to build a nuke.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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psikeyhackr - 05 March 2012 10:41 AM
traveler - 05 March 2012 09:31 AM

The von Neumann architecture does not represent most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture. More importantly however is the fact that most computers today are not what most people think of as computers (keyboard, monitor, mouse…) but rather integral parts of things like cars, microwaves, centrifuges, watches, etc. That means that they are less symbolic machines and more real-time feedback mechanisms that allow us to build more autonomous machines as well as machines that perform tasks we cannot. Such devices include aircraft that require control surfaces to be manipulated more quickly than humanly possible, or spacecraft that capture and deal with far too much data for a human to deal with.

Something like the oil pressure in a car is fed through an analog-to-digital converter making it a binary number which is a SYMBOL.  DSPs, Digital Signal Processors, are mostly Harvard machines I read somewhere but the only difference between a Harvard and a von Neumann is a Harvard has two memories instead of one and the programs are separate from the data.  This has no effect on the symbol manipulation characteristics.

Care to provide a link supporting the “most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture” statement.

psik

IMO, micro fractals may become very useful for symbolic recognition by computers.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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psikeyhackr - 05 March 2012 10:41 AM
traveler - 05 March 2012 09:31 AM

The von Neumann architecture does not represent most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture. More importantly however is the fact that most computers today are not what most people think of as computers (keyboard, monitor, mouse…) but rather integral parts of things like cars, microwaves, centrifuges, watches, etc. That means that they are less symbolic machines and more real-time feedback mechanisms that allow us to build more autonomous machines as well as machines that perform tasks we cannot. Such devices include aircraft that require control surfaces to be manipulated more quickly than humanly possible, or spacecraft that capture and deal with far too much data for a human to deal with.

Something like the oil pressure in a car is fed through an analog-to-digital converter making it a binary number which is a SYMBOL

Still YELLING, I see.  smile
No, a bit in your example indicates state. No symbol is necessary. To a computer scientist, symbols are important and have various meanings. A programmer creating an assembler, for example, uses symbols to represent targets of jump instructions Symbols used in assemblers LINK. And of course every language is made up of symbols for the human programmer, but that does not mean that symbols are being manipulated. At a higher level, some software is written to process symbols rather than numeric information - as in MAPLE v. MATLAB LINK

I worked for a couple of years programming in LISP, which worked with both symbols and numeric values. Symbols are not the ones and zeros that represent a floating point number but rather they are things like RED, SOUR, ROUGH…

DSPs, Digital Signal Processors, are mostly Harvard machines I read somewhere but the only difference between a Harvard and a von Neumann is a Harvard has two memories instead of one and the programs are separate from the data.  This has no effect on the symbol manipulation characteristics.

Right, in fact they have moved to Super Harvard.  smile

Care to provide a link supporting the “most modern day machines as we have moved to a Harvard architecture” statement.

Sure, LINK

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Posted: 05 March 2012 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Coldheart Tucker - 05 March 2012 10:43 AM

Traveler, not at all.  Kurtzweil thinks that by 2045 3D printers will be capable of manipulating things at the subatomic level.  Even if they can only work at the molecular level, that’s good enough to build a nuke.

But do you believe that? Or is it outlandish in your opinion.

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Posted: 05 March 2012 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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The debate about human “understanding” versus the way AI manipulates symbols without “understanding” has always fascinated me. For me, the real question is: what does it mean to “understand”? And as Turing seems to have thought, if the end result is indistinguishable, what does it matter?

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