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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I've been reading The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil. Ray is not the hack that Whitescarver is. He's got an impressive body of work behind him, and has retained credibility while fronting some seemingly crazy ideas.

In The Law of Accelerating Returns he puts forward a fairly well documented argument for the idea that computers are getting smarted. He tries to quantify when they'll be smarter than us (yes, "when" not "if"). Then he (as most of the transhumanists do) limits his predictions to what is seen as an "event horizon" - an event we cannot see past. This is called "singularity". Why singularity? Follow the link. (it looks like a cult site, but I've found few of the typical signs of a cult yet. Although they do have apocolyptic ideas and they do want your money.

Ray also includes a bunch of graphs that back up his point - things are speeding up (in fact the rate of things speeding up is speeding up - sounds confusing, but it's just acceleration). Look at the graphs and understand the scale (linear or exponential) - that's the important bit about his graphs.

This may all seem far fetched - and it will - but all the parts are there - they just haven't been assembled yet. Singularity is at least as likely to come to pass as anything else. Some people (from what I read) can get pretty emotional about the ideas herein, so my advice is: don't get too emotional about it. there's nothing you can do about it. it either happens or it doesn't. try not to take these people's opinions too personally. They're just trying to express ideas, we're all free to do that, and I think they're doing a good job of it. doesn't mean they're right about everything.

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