“The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”

Vernor Vinge writes, in his article ‘The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era’, about the concept of the Singularity in terms of time and what effects entail. The Singularity is the process of technology to exceed human intelligence. Vinge goes on to say that this may occur “in the next thirty years.” (From when the paper was written in 1993)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a speculated technology that would allow the production of superhuman or ultraintelligent entities and transhuman devices. These applications of artificial intelligence exist on the assumption that the technology is feasible. It is a given that “if the technological Singularity can happen, it will,” but it is questioned whether a biological entity can be emulated in a non-biological entity using a series of algorithms. Neurotransmitters are the basis of human processing power found in the brain alike the transistors in computer processing chips. Both use electric stimuli but neurotransmitters have greater capability than the ‘on-off’ transistors.

Vinge progresses the article with the assumption that the Singularity will happen and goes on to question by which means. The most likely measure offered in the article is by the continuation of Moore’s Law with processing capabilities doubling every 18 months.

The article is brought to a close offering some suggestions for “what next?” My favourite is the depiction of humans as overpowered owners of god-like, superhuman slaves. It shows that there are more possibilities that them simply ending human existence.

“Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?”

Nick Bostrom’s article “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” has a more TOK feel to it. A simulation is an artificial construction of a realistic situation that can observed virtually. The simulation Bostrom discusses is a metaphysical system controlled by our ancestors. This concept does incur that a machine is capable of emulating human life but lacks depth as to why it would be synthesized this way. The technological approach of this article is similar to Vinges’s. Overall, quite an extraneous read.

“Both the ideas described in the articles are outlandish and will never happen, or have never happened?”

In my opinion, neither article is outlandish and the common ground of artificial intelligence and the Singularity are extremely likely to happen. A good point to make is that human DNA may be some technology that replaced some form of predecessors. This idea was put forward in the lecture we watched in class.

“The Singularity is something that we should all strive for as humans have been built to always want to progress.”

This second statement is a good method of prediction for where we’re headed. I believe Moore’s Law exists on a basis that we will always push the capabilities of our tools to open up new options that may benefit us. This process is fed by our curiosity of new this, but will the saying “curiosity killed the cat” prove true on a global scale?

“Our worlds are already full of small simulations, so the natural progression is to immerse ourselves in one is a logical step.”

Finally, the simulation concept is possible and may suggest that we’re immersed in some extraordinary virtual reality system. But does that suggest the life cycle is simply ‘Game Over – Respawn’? I’m not willing to find out…

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