Thursday, December 13, 2007

When the Robots Take Over They Will Kill Us.

This video (from New Zealand digi-folk duo 'Flight of the Conchords') depicts life post Kurzweilian 'Singularity'- the humans are dead, robots rule the world. There are also no elephants it is true- but then again, there is also no cruelty to elephants. Ha! Similar arguments can be made about vegetarianism and the proposed extinction of domesticated animals- (see Peter Singer: Animal Liberation). Is it better to have lived and suffered, than to never have lived at all? I digress.

Ray Kurweil is an amazing guy- though not quite as amazing as he thinks he is. He thinks that by swallowing 45 dietary supplements a day he has warded off diabetes. Ray thinks he's discovered the fountain of youth. He needs it - because he wants to live forever- because he doesn't want to leave the world without our Ray.

He's written several books- interesting ones- but ones that contain an enormous amout of stuffing. His basic premise is that once computers (artificial intelligence) can self-replicate, an incredible positive feedback loop will begin that rapidly will allow AI's to outsmart humans. This he calls the 'singularity'.

I guess "We'll make great pets". As 'Porno for Pyro's' asked :"Will there be another race to come along and take over for us?". Although i think they were thinking about Martians.

"Who knows- maybe the robots will have to get rid of us for our own utilitarian good... wait didn't i see all this in Battlestar Galactica? If the robots look like fembot Tricia Helfer, sign me up for a brain upload.

Today i read an article about Alex Lemaire- an amazing human 'computer'- able to perform incredible mental arithmetic (or is it algebra)- getting the 13th root (i hesitate to make a cheap joke about my 13th root).

He has one of those rare savant minds that can visualize numbers... they have an intrinsic 'meaning' to him- as different to each other as blue is to red for us. No effort is required to process this information- it just 'is'. I have heard a description of this type of calculation (by someone who does it) as akin to flying over a landscape of numbers- when you 'arrive' at your destination, you simply look around and 'read' the scenery. People who can do this are often as mystified as anybody else as to the underlying mechanism/process (although perhaps not entirely in this case).

Interestingly, Alex is completing his PhD in Artifical Intelligence- but says what he does is "AI in reverse".

In other words, he 'programs' his brain to perform certain algorithms and act like a digital computer.

At the moment he's only able to do this with certain mathematical stuff- but he hopes to be able to find a way of 'programming' his brain to be a 'general purpose' computer.

Once he can do this, he'll be able to simulate his entire consciousness INSIDE his own brain! He will have meta-consciousness, although the 2nd level one might be thinking at a slower speed. Where will it end? An infinite regress of meta-meta-meta consciousnesses-esses-esses? Here are his phone numbers- you can ask him yourself- but you'll need to speak French: téléphone: mobile +33(0)628195447 +33(0)326780835.

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