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  #51  
Old 10-09-2019, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
I have a hard time even imagining what vastly superior technology will be like.
I believe that we all have that problem. Soon after the singularity event occurs, human beings will likely have no idea to of how to interpret the technological changes that will likely occur.
  #52  
Old 10-09-2019, 06:55 PM
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I believe that we all have that problem. Soon after the singularity event occurs, human beings will likely have no idea to of how to interpret the technological changes that will likely occur.
Well we can easily talk in broad strokes what we know "the singularity" brings.

The main thing is that some point during this period of rapid change, commercial forces or whatever driving intelligence is behind it will order the robotics fabs to build a very large number of automated research and development nodes.

These would be automated research systems that explore, systematically and from base principles, every field of science. Biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, all of it.

They would build up a fresh model of the world, with unbiased, robotically obtained data, from the beginning. And not just a model - at the upper ends of the process, optimized versions of every piece of machinery this civilization is interested in would be developed, from jet engines to nano robotic assemblers.

That is, at a certain point, my prediction is that in a relatively short period of time (probably 10 years or less), this civilization would have systematically discovered every principle of physics that can be found with a systematic search and exploited in our universe, and developed the machinery to within ~1% of the hard limit allowed by physics.

So they'd have nanomachinery that's 99% as good as the best possible, rocket engines that are 99% as good, and so on and so forth. The singularity is an S curve.

As for what sort of things we know that you could do with such technology:

a. You could play with biology, including human biology, like legos. If humans are still alive at this point, and these humans have some remaining autonomy and purchasing power at this point, it should be possible to freely change your age, gender, add extra arms, do just about anything that is feasible for a creature still made out of meat.

b. Antimatter-fueled starships, assuming no hidden showstopper rules in the laws of physics regarding antimatter

c. Self replicating robotics, to the point that tearing down planets for raw materials is a straightforward, routine operation

d. People talk about becoming a "type N" civilization but this misses the point, the limiting factor wouldn't be energy, it's the matter available around the sun. Most likely most of the energy emitted by the sun would still be freely shining into space.

But yes, I cannot predict who would be in charge, if anyone, in such a world. Can't even predict if there would even be intelligent beings like we call intelligence. Robotic agents that don't have emotions, can't experience art or music or sex or appreciate colors or sounds, but just ruthlessly copy themselves as quickly as possible, might be all that is left.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-09-2019 at 06:55 PM.
  #53  
Old 10-10-2019, 08:56 AM
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Well we can easily talk in broad strokes what we know "the singularity" brings.
No, we can't. We can speculate, but we can "know" nothing. That's the whole point of it being a singularity, by analogy with physics - we can't know what's happening in a black hole. Or "before" the Big Bang.
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Old 10-10-2019, 09:27 AM
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I believe that we all have that problem. Soon after the singularity event occurs, human beings will likely have no idea to of how to interpret the technological changes that will likely occur.
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.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:42 AM
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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).
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  #56  
Old 10-10-2019, 11:03 AM
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I keep thinking about ATMs. The big shock came a couple of decades ago when a major bank around here announced that it was firing all its tellers. You could still see a human to open accounts, get things notarized, safe deposit boxes. Deposits and withdrawals are all going to be through ATMs. It has been years since I stepped into a bank. I also have no idea how ATMs work. I know you stick in checks and it reads them. I know it will email receipts. I assume there is a human somewhere in the upper echelons that supervises the network, but what happens if the person retires? Or gets hit by a bus? How do you replace them? You can't promote a teller, they've all been made redundant. You have to make the system easier so one person can do two jobs. That's how we get to singularity without anybody realizing its happened. (see also, the revolution will not be televised.)
  #57  
Old 10-10-2019, 12:58 PM
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No, we can't. We can speculate, but we can "know" nothing. That's the whole point of it being a singularity, by analogy with physics - we can't know what's happening in a black hole. Or "before" the Big Bang.
You're just parroting others. Think about it. What is the singularity, specifically? It's not magic. It is an accomplishment where a technological agent smart and general enough to improve technology does so at superhuman speeds. And the improvements make the agent itself better at it's job.

It doesn't even require general AI.

Does the singularity mean it's unpredictable? No. It's predictable, mostly. An audio amplifier that feeds back into itself just amplifies the signal until the power rail voltage limits the magnitude.

A technological singularity means the technology level improves until the hard laws of physics constrain any more improvements. Techno Jesus doesn't come back. It's a real event with probably real people and probably the entities doing it will be institutions we already know about.

Now, yes, certain hard constraints on our existences - like having to have just 1 body or aging and death or fear of nuclear warfare to wipe out enemies out - would most likely be lifted because we already know about technological means to evade them, we just lack the knowledge and capabilities at present to do so.

This is why verner vinge says a singularity is unpredictable. It is NOT totally unknowable - but if most of the constraints that limit what humans can do are lifted, what will they do? Impossible to accurately forecast.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-10-2019 at 01:01 PM.
  #58  
Old 10-10-2019, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
You're just parroting others.
What are you basing that statement on?
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Think about it.
Like I've been using automatic writing to post up to now?
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Does the singularity mean it's unpredictable?
What's on the other side is, yes. In its purest sense, that's what "singularity" means.
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This is why verner vinge says a singularity is unpredictable. It is NOT totally unknowable - but if most of the constraints that limit what humans can do are lifted, what will they do? Impossible to accurately forecast.
"Impossible to accurately forecast" is "unknowable" for the present.

No-one's arguing that we won't be able to know what the singularity entails after it happens. That's as trivial as saying I "know" the 3-body problem because I can see where all 3 bodies are right now. But our concern is prediction, and you agree that accurate forecasts are impossible.

So, how exactly was I wrong, again?
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:10 PM
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What are you basing that statement on?

Like I've been using automatic writing to post up to now?

What's on the other side is, yes. In its purest sense, that's what "singularity" means.


"Impossible to accurately forecast" is "unknowable" for the present.

No-one's arguing that we won't be able to know what the singularity entails after it happens. That's as trivial as saying I "know" the 3-body problem because I can see where all 3 bodies are right now. But our concern is prediction, and you agree that accurate forecasts are impossible.

So, how exactly was I wrong, again?
You aren't wrong, because it's all speculation. Not sure how you COULD be wrong, except after the fact when it's not speculation anymore, as you said. Well, unless you disagree with my predictions. That would obviously be wrong.
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Last edited by XT; 10-10-2019 at 04:10 PM.
  #60  
Old 10-10-2019, 06:16 PM
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This is why verner vinge says a singularity is unpredictable. It is NOT totally unknowable - but if most of the constraints that limit what humans can do are lifted, what will they do? Impossible to accurately forecast.
Oddly enough I'm reading 2001 Asimov's, and in a review column Vinge is noted as saying that the singularity should arrive by 2023. So no wonder it is no longer predictable, just like the return of Jesus.
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:50 PM
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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).
Sure, individually we adapt to new technologies pretty quickly. I've lived through vinyl, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs, mp3 players and streaming music. It's not like at any point I stopped figuring out how to listen to music I liked. But collectively, disruptive technology has a much bigger effect on companies, industries and even the balance of power between nations. Think about IT outsourcing. It's not just that technology made jobs easier. It also made it easier to have people do jobs in countries where they didn't have to pay people as much.

That's what I think of when I think of the "singularity". Some technological advancement that changes the way we do things in such a way that we can't really imagine the world afterwards.
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:44 PM
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Probably limits to growth at best.
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