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Old 10-10-2019, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
A lot of people make it like the "singularity" will be some massive event where humans will be wiped out or converted into Matrix batteries or some other such nonsense. I think it is more like what you described. We will develop some technological advance that will fundamentally change society in such a way that we can't predict the future by extrapolating out the way we currently do things. And I believe we have experienced such "singularities" before.

Like the steam engine for example. On a fundamental level, steam power meant that humans were no longer limited in what they could accomplish by the number of people or pack animals they could throw at a problem. Trans-oceanic trade was no longer dependent on prevailing wind conditions. Societies based on agrarian wealth were no match against ones based on industry (as the Civil War demonstrated). The point being, the introduction of the steam engine meant that everything that humans did before - trade, war, social hierarchies, agriculture, so on and so forth - had to be rethought.

When people talk about the "singularity" they usually are referring to AI. With the assumption that we are going to create some sort of Skynet / Matrix system that surmises it is in it's best interest to KILL ALL HUMANS.

I think it will be less dramatic. Much as the steam engine reduced the need for lots of humans for performing crappy manual labor, I think AI (really, advanced machine learning) is going to eliminate much of the crappy intellectual work. My fear is that it will create a world very much like the one portrayed in "Idiocracy". In the film, it is stated that people became stupid due to dysgenic pressures. But it also portrayed a world that was mostly run on automation - automated food kiosks, airplanes so simple to fly even a "tard" could have a "kick ass career" as a pilot, the company computer that automatically fires employees when the stock tanks.

So the question is, what does such a society look like where humans largely don't have any real decisions to make? What does "work" look like? What constitutes "power" and how does it congregate with various individuals or organizations? Does our society become aligned along some sort of feudal-corporate structure? I feel like a lot of people in corporations already have "bullshit" jobs.

The point is we can't possibly know. 40 years ago, when I was a little kid in school and the teacher asked us "what kind of work we wanted to do when we grew up", I'm pretty sure my answer wasn't "I want to sit at home all day having video conferences and discussions on Slack with a half dozen teams scattered about the country advising corporations their strategy for implementing 'big data' infrastructure and advanced analytics.
I tend to agree with you. We can't see what is coming, for sure, or how it will impact our lives, or society or our culture and civilization, but I'd like to do a quick thought experiment. Many 'dopers were born before the technology we use every day was a thing. I was born when TV's were just starting to be available to people (my family didn't have it's own TV until I was maybe around 10 or so) and radio was still heavily used (we had one that we listened to shows on as well as the news at night). Even electricity was not all pervasive (my folks first house had electricity that had been bolted on to a house that wasn't designed for it, and the indoor plumbing was also retrofitted, so we had a single bathroom close to the kitchen, which is the only places where we had running water...cold water, since we didn't have, initially, a water heater).

Anyway, consider moving forward from there to today. I should, by rights, have a lot of issues keeping up with things and using today's technology, especially as rapidly as it's changed just in my lifetime...but I don't. I've managed to move from no computers, to big iron using terminal sessions that were all text based with paper tape or magnetic tape storage, to personal computers using command line interfaces and no connectivity, through early GUI based systems with limited connectivity, to increasing levels of GUI with expert systems and more sophisticated software and increasing levels of connectivity, to today. And it's been fairly seemless. Hell, network engineering is how I put bread on the table. Someone born just a few years later doesn't even see the disconnects...hell, most of the kids I work with don't even see progression anymore, thinking we've stagnated or halted technological progression because they don't even see, anymore, progression happening. They EXPECT that every year their new smart phone will be faster, have more battery life and more functionality, and if it's not happening as fast as they think it should (with their ungrounded expectations), they think we are stagnating and the end is near.

My WAG is that it will be a smooth curve, with transformational technologies just kind of slipping into the mainstream without much fuss or muss. Folks will hardly notice as it's going on, hell, they will probably complain that we aren't progressing fast enough or that everything sucks.

As a quick anecdote, I was talking to some of the kids I work with a few weeks ago about bandwidth at home. One of the systems kids was talking about how slow his internet at home is and how unstable it is. Hardly a month goes by where he doesn't have some slowness on his system when he's and his family are streaming movies, playing an online game and streaming various other content while downloading. He has a mere 250mb/s connection, and it 'sucks' and is 'slow'. And, for him, he's right. It's also REALLY expensive...again, from his perspective. So, I related what I had when I was his age. I was high tech. I had brought in ISDN to my house, and had two dedicated, nailed up BRI channels...64k each, aggregated! It took him a while to grasp I wasn't talking about (2) 64mb/s channels, but two 64kb/s channels. Then I told him what I was paying for that.

It's a total disconnect. He honestly couldn't conceive of it, or how we could use such a thing. And, frankly, today, it's hard for ME to put it into context, since my use has been a steady upward path. As I needed or used more bandwidth, as new services came available, as porn became better, more bandwidth was there. Like magic. I hardly noticed. And we could plan a similar game with phones. Stuff folks, even folks like me who's first phone was a huge brick with shitty coverage and grainy sound take the system we have for granted. And the stuff on the horizon just doesn't look that different, even though it is...fundamentally different. The new versions of cellular on the horizon, new satellite systems just starting to be deployed, hell, the new versions of WiFi that will be coming out will be transformational...but we won't hardly notice, because, to us, it's just a natural progression and really isn't that much difference (like the difference between 2 aggregated BRI channels and that mere 250mb/s system, or between my old Motorola brick phone and my new Apple iPhone).

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!