[extropy-chat] A life/machine singularity

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Sun Oct 30 20:16:16 UTC 2005

Forwarding permission was given by William R. Corliss

< http://www.science-frontiers.com >

SCIENCE FRONTIERS, No. 162, Nov-Dec 2005, p. 4


A life/machine singularity

Futurist R. Kurzweil has written a book entitled *The Singularity is Near:
When Humans Transcend Biology*.  He charts first the increasing
complexity of universe as an exponential function beginning with the
formation of the Milky Way 10^10 years ago, progressing [?] to the
emergence of modern man 10^5 years ago to our present
Internet-connected planet.

Based on past exponential advances in computer technology, he foresees
by 2030 a paradigm shift when the biological part of our intelligence
will no longer predominate.  By the 2040s, *non*-biological intelligence
will then be billions of times more powerful than the collective human
brain.  This overwhelming predominance and (supposed) superiority of
machine intelligence will also be accompanied by the biological
reengineering of human and, perhaps, other [useful?] life forms.  All
earth will then be a unified entity---a biomechanical Gaia, with
emphasis on the "mechanical"!

Thus, the article being digested is titled "Human 2.0" Phase 2 of the
human adventure.

(Kurzweil, Ray; "Human 2.0," *New Scientist*, p. 33, September 24,

*Questions and comments*.  Is the "Human 2.0" state desirable in terms
of current human ambitions and moral values?  What would a "Human 3.0"
entity be like?  Shouldn't there be biological "states" beyond mere
intellectual capacity?

Kurzweil dismisses present human life as merely a collection of 23,000
software programs (our genes, that is).  Life, though, seems to be much
more than genes alone.  Kurzweil may, in fact, see his futuristic vision
outflanked and surpassed by biological paradigm shifts.  He gives no
notice to these possibilities.  Such biological shifts could conceivably
produce biological "states" beyond sheer computer power and
superintelligence---perhaps displaying even purpose!

Of course, science fiction writers have not neglected such non-mechanical
paradigm shifts.

Finally, today's supercomputers and, very likely, any "Human 2.0"-type
entity, are chaotic systems and difficult-to-predict.  For example, the
same program will often takes different times to run on the same
supercomputer.  (*New Scientist*, p. 17, July 9, 2005)

A "Human 2.0"-entity might turn out to be a biomechanical Frankenstein
according to current societal values!

Will biology totally hybridize with machines?  Or will biology initiate
paradigm shifts that create functions or "states" that we do not
presently even conceive---"states" that computers could never emulate?

SCIENCE FRONTIERS is a bimonthly collection of scientific anomalies in
the current literature.  Published by the Sourcebook Project, P.O. Box 107,
Glen Arm, MD 21057 USA.  Annual subscription: $8.00.

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
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