Is resistance futile? Will we be assimilated?

I recently read an article in TIME Magazine, concerning Raymond Kurzweil’s prediction of an event he termed, “The Singularity”, or, a moment in time when humanity will no longer be recognizable to us as we are now, and computer intelligence will surpass human intelligence, maybe even reach the level of sentience, and become beings. Beings who may, rather than wipe us out, join with us both mentally and physically. Kurzweil places this date at 2045. It is indeed possible to assume that computers will be able to increase our lifespans indefinitely, or we may be able to scan ourselves to computers and live as software, download our brains’ contents into a robotic copy of us and live forever as machines. And yet, humanity may be wiped out by our own creations. Are we ready to become one with machines? In the words of the Borg: You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.


However at the moment my unmodified self is a very slow typist, so let me go research some stuff and then hunt-and-peck out my reasoned, insightful response. :slight_smile:

I just wanted to be the first to say yes.

[Captain Kirk]
Must… Resist…
[/Captain Kirk]

Oh well, I have to point out that we just had this discussion recently:

I am seeing a whole bunch of problems with this. The main one is that it is that futurists have a slightly worse track record than psychics so, if he is right, it isn’t because he knows something, it is mainly that he got lucky. As a futurist myself, the prediction I am making is that most future futurists will be as wrong as he is.

The second problem is that computers are not human brains and can’t just meld with them. In fact, they are almost but not completely unlike human brains. The resemblances are strictly on the output and not the architecture side however. You can make specialized microchips that do things like stimulate parts of the brain responsible for some vision and hearing but you can’t just download memories. They always mention downloading and uploading things into the brain without saying that we don’t understand how the vast majority of the brain works in the first place. That simply does not exist now and probably won’t in 2045 either despite everyone’s best effort.

Physical machines break. I work in IT in a body parts manufacturing facility that is state of the art. The fact that such a thing exists is a technological marvel but the constant life support it takes to keep the place running on a daily basis doesn’t bode well for our silicon siblings. Asking your computer to do anything human-like is about as useful on its own is about as useful as yelling out to your car to run to the store and get you some milk. Computers are extremely literal and dumb and still have to be programmed for everything they do even if it is something general like the computer Watson answering Jeopardy questions. I am sure that cars will be able to drive themselves in the future because Google already has some built that can but where are they going to go on their own and what are they going to do when a part breaks? At some point, a person is going to have to come up with a solution. You can move that point further and further out but it never ends.

Speaking of Goggle, the latest cars have gone from “drives like my grandma” to “drives like a maniac”.

The latest research I saw is moving away from the literal into prediction models that look more like the way the human brain works. Still, it is very unlikely that we will be assimilated, even if we get human like intelligence it does not mean that it would be compatible; so, no uploads any time soon, however, very intelligent machines are coming.

I’ll say “no” to the computer AI singularity by 2045. Too bad, I might live that long.

Computers are always getting more powerful, and that’s great for processor intensive things like rendering full screen 3D video or something, but that doesn’t make computers smarter. Kurzweil seems to make the assumption that computers are getting smarter at the same rate they get more powerful, which just ain’t so.

If anyone ever does manage to write a functioning human brain program, that will be interesting when it’s running on a computer more powerful than all the human brains on earth though.

My prediction, depressing as it may be, is that we will cause our own extinction before (or perhaps because of) the advent of strong AI.

On a long enough timeline, yes. However one criticism of singularianism is that most predictions happen roughly when the predictors would die of old age (the middle of the 21st century). So there is likely some unconscious fear of death prodding them to set the date right when they would die of natural causes anyway.

But on a long enough timeline I don’t see how our cognitive abilities won’t be greatly advanced by technology. A smartphone, when you think about it, is basically non-invasive cyborg technology. It will let you communicate with 3+ billion people all over the earth from pretty much anywhere. It can dig up info on almost any subject within a few minutes, it contains endless exabytes of info via the internet. Endless apps to find maps and various info. You can record audio, video and text. Now there are some augmented reality programs being put into cell phones. A smartphone greatly enhances your memory, knowledge of subjects, visual/auditory abilities, communication skills, talent pool, etc. If I am at a lake and find a fish but don’t know the species, I can look it up online. To someone from 300 years ago that would be pretty advanced to have that kind of capability.

So smart phones aren’t an invasive form of borg technology. But it arguably is a noninvasive one. And we treat that as just a part of life.

Kurzweil made various predictions of 2009 back in the 1990s. Among them:

Computers are primarily portable, with people typically having at least a dozen on or around their bodies, networked together with “body LANs”

Rotating memory (CD-ROMS, Hard disk drives) are on their way out

The majority of text is generated with speech recognition software

Learning at a distance, through computers, is commonplace

Computer-controlled orthopedic devices, “walking machines” are used to help the disabled

Translating telephones (where each caller is speaking a different language) are commonplace

Virtually all communication is digital and encrypted

The ten years leading up to 2009 have seen continuous economic expansion

Most purchases of books, videos and music are digital downloads

Warfare is dominated by unmanned intelligent airborne devices

Tele-medicine is widely used, where the physician examines the patient at a distance with virtual reality

Of them, most are still in embryonic form. Most people don’t have a dozen computers on them, speech recognition software isn’t used much, walking machines are barely entering the market, translating telephones aren’t commercially available yet, the economy didn’t expand until 2009, warfare is not dominated by unmanned intelligente airborne devices by any means, and telemedicine is still in its infancy. Rotating memory is still used in desktops and laptops, but has largely been replaced by flash in most other devices.

His predictions for 2009 were all optimistic, and will probably happen within 10-15 years. But his timeline was extremely optimistic.

If making predictions for 2009 made in 1999 were so far off, his predictions for 2045 will have even more problems.

But I see no reason that we won’t be able to greatly advance our cognitive abilities via technology. When we do that we will find better ways to advance our abilities. Then better and soon the advances will likely become beyond imagination. Even if the ‘best’ we can do is human level intelligence, having billions of software programs with the talents of the worlds greatest economists, mathematicians, scientists, politicians, etc. will change the world. And I don’t see why intelligence is limited to human biology.

So I’m guessing that means we’re close to going out into the galaxy and absorbing other species into out society, and adding them to our collective. okay.

I don’t think you can extrapolate future technological development from past data. I predict that rather than a singularity we’re going to come against an unforeseen braking phenomenon - a resistance to change. A cultural friction if you will.

Look at the current Best Buy ad campaign where they have customers who are get annoyed because they just bought a new gadget and it’s already outdated. I think that’ll become a much bigger issue.

People won’t want to continuously roll through new waves of technology. At some point the potential advantages of the new technology won’t appear to justify the cost of adopting it - especially when it’s clear that a newer technology will soon supplant that. People will decide that their current technology is good enough. Even if it’s theoretically possible to have a complete revolution and remake the world every year, people won’t want that. There’ll still be change - but there’ll be more of a balance between the perceived merits of being the latest technology and the perceived merits of being the established technology.

Kurzweil makes a living making wildly optimistic predictions about technology that get a lot of press because they’re sexy. Every few years he sneaks back his horizon for the Singularity.

What do you mean “we,” meatbag?

(I am currently attempting to generate enough reverse-Turing material to pass as a non-organic entity when Skynet goes sentient.)