08-08-2010 , 11:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plancer
Well, we don't know if these math problems are solvable at all.
Almost everyone thinks NP != P, and a great deal of people think that you can't even prove it.
This isn't true, for most definitions of "a great deal." A small minority thinks that P<>NP is independent of ZFC. Probably not any higher than the number of people that think that about any unsolved problem or Fermat's last theorem before it was solved.
08-09-2010 , 02:00 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Raker
This isn't true, for most definitions of "a great deal." A small minority thinks that P<>NP is independent of ZFC. Probably not any higher than the number of people that think that about any unsolved problem or Fermat's last theorem before it was solved.
Yeah you're correct - the % of "won't be solved"ers is very low. I saw a survey of math professors back in the day, and it was in the 5% range.
Regardless, the prevailing view is that it P != NP.

I don't think there is anything singularity-ish that is contingent on solving this problem.
08-09-2010 , 03:55 AM
Even though I still don't see how proving P!=NP is relevant to the singularity, purely for the sake of invalidating your argument you should read this 100 page paper (from 6th August) with a proof that P!=NP. It hasn't been peer reviewed yet so it's not absolute.

Last edited by Karganeth; 08-09-2010 at 04:03 AM.
08-09-2010 , 09:51 AM
...because reviewed papers are the truth...
08-09-2010 , 12:37 PM
I think computational complexity is relevant because somebody claimed that computers are great at solving games which is totally wrong. If solving chess is worth 100 points computers today are at about 5. I think this is relevant because despite the period of exponential growth, there are many problems that are natural and not even close to being solved. Hopefully the singularity will ne easier than solving chess or even problems outside of P that are not NP complete like RSA.
08-09-2010 , 09:00 PM
08-09-2010 , 11:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by econophile
Nice read and on point. ty
08-10-2010 , 02:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by econophile
The article doesn't really point out anything wrong with futurists - it points out a few errors made by humanities-schooled technology journalists (who write for the nonscientist laity), then proceeds to wax poetic on themes of alienation which are as old as the Industrial Revolution. The author seems to think that because he's an engineer he has the authority to publish high school-quality drivel with arrogant claims like: " All thoughts about consciousness, souls and the like are bound up equally in faith, which suggests something remarkable: What we are seeing is a new religion, expressed through an engineering culture.

What I would like to point out, though, is that a great deal of the confusion and rancor in the world today concerns tension at the boundary between religion and modernity — whether it’s the distrust among Islamic or Christian fundamentalists of the scientific worldview, or even the discomfort that often greets progress in fields like climate change science or stem-cell research."

Nice though, huh?

After showing a few examples of ****ty journalism, he points out that people frequently screw up and overly on technology. His examples are pretty weak and frequently point out the faults of bureaucracy and large corporations. Does he really expect us to believe that Netflix's algorithms is trivializing the importance of the aesthetic virtues, and will result in the death of our civilization's soul? Isn't there lower hanging fruit, like, say, television? Is Netflix's match-making somehow a bigger threat to our civilization than Rome's coliseum was to itself? How does the homogenization of our culture through mass media somehow deal less damage than some kid listening to music via Pandora?

His style of analysis would have someone watch Brazil or read Kafka's The Trial, then say "see what technology does!?" although neither of these include a shred of AI.

"What makes this doubly confounding is that while Silicon Valley might sell artificial intelligence to consumers, our industry certainly wouldn’t apply the same automated techniques to some of its own work."

This is irrelevant bull****. So what if Steve Jobs still does something at Apple? Last time I checked, engineers don't study C optimization / Assembly / basic IC chip design, etc, because we've figured out how to automate a lot of low level work. He has made an imaginary double standard, and used it to "double [the confoundedness]" of his previous error (blaming AI for non-AI problems).

"Engineers don’t seem quite ready to believe in their smart algorithms enough to put them up against Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, or some other person with a real design sensibility."

This is one of the most pathetic sentences I've read.

Anyone can wax poetic on the horrific dehumanization that has transformed the first world over the last century. A lot of the author's complaints could have been ripped straight out of Kafka. Blaming AI on problems that have their origins in the industrial revolution doesn't make sense.

"All thoughts about consciousness, souls and the like are bound up equally in faith, which suggests something remarkable: What we are seeing is a new religion, expressed through an engineering culture."

This is ridiculous. My thought that reconstructing a brain, neuron for neuron, will result in a conscious entity is not equally as faith based as Catholics' views of the soul. I'm sorry, but this notion doesn't suddenly put me in the same league as the 2.5 billion monotheists.

"What I would like to point out, though, is that a great deal of the confusion and rancor in the world today concerns tension at the boundary between religion and modernity — whether it’s the distrust among Islamic or Christian fundamentalists of the scientific worldview, or even the discomfort that often greets progress in fields like climate change science or stem-cell research.

If technologists are creating their own ultramodern religion, and it is one in which people are told to wait politely as their very souls are made obsolete, we might expect further and worsening tensions. But if technology were presented without metaphysical baggage, is it possible that modernity would not make people as uncomfortable?"

I don't buy this at all.
Science is horror. I don't think RK's hopeful vision is somehow worsening the alienation that Christians feel about divorce rates, racial and sexual diversity, economic problems, and terrifying research (cloning, etc). I also don't think it has much to do with the muslim world's rage at watching a previously inferior civilization dominate the planet, and dwarf their culture with repulsive images.

"Technology is essentially a form of service. We work to make the world better. Our inventions can ease burdens, reduce poverty and suffering, and sometimes even bring new forms of beauty into the world. We can give people more options to act morally, because people with medicine, housing and agriculture can more easily afford to be kind than those who are sick, cold and starving."

Another paragraph void of meaning.

"We serve people best when we keep our religious ideas out of our work."

Nice rhetoric.
08-10-2010 , 03:02 AM
It seems to me the problem with technologism is not anything internal to it - it's not that technologism is "faith-based" or has "excessive metaphysical pretensions".

The problem is simply that it is used unconsciously as a substitute for religion in a post-religious world (as was Marxism, and as is capitalism). Hardcore technologism is another way of evading or outright denying the inevitability of death and the implications that inevitability has for how we should live.

The proper role of technology is as an adjunct to life. Technologies are tools. They are not ends in themselves. No amount of improvement in technology is going to answer the question of how you should live your life, or the question of whether it is better to live or die in the first place.

The unstated assumption that a life immersed in technology is preferable to a life in a pretechnological world should absolutely not be taken for granted. Sure it's longer and less painful... but is it better? Of course we moderns do take this for granted, because we have been forgotten the things that have been lost to modernity.

Now I'm not devaluing technology at all, just the shallow ideology of technologism. It is used to paper over the fundamental questions of life rather than to confront them... it is simply a bad substitute for religion (or philosophy).

Then again some might argue that it's the only substitute we have.

/FWIW I am not agreeing with the editorial insofar as I understand what his thesis is. I don't see how AI is uniquely problematic.
08-10-2010 , 03:53 AM
I think you're underestimating certain technologies' potential to radically displace the inevitability of death, to become ends in themselves, and to answer questions once thought outside their purview. It doesn't really matter exactly when this will happen, or how certain it is to happen. But it can reasonably happen. Nor is our planet the only field in the universe where this kind of non-natural evolution is feasible.

Oh, and this is a TED talk on 'temes.'
08-10-2010 , 04:10 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
I think you're underestimating certain technologies' potential to radically displace the inevitability of death, to become ends in themselves, and to answer questions once thought outside their purview. It doesn't really matter exactly when this will happen, or how certain it is to happen. But it can reasonably happen. Nor is our planet the only field in the universe where this kind of non-natural evolution is feasible.

Whether we die tomorrow or when the universe contracts to a singularity is immaterial to the question of what would make our lives worth living in the first place.

Furthermore to take solace in these distant anticipations of pseudo-immortality that will not arrive during our lifetimes is a clear example of relying on technologism as a substitute for religion or philosophy.

My problem with this is I think it's pretty clearly intellectually bogus. I think religion (I'm an atheist btw) and philosophy more honestly confront these problems of life and existence and mortality, whereas technologism is just a way of avoiding them by indulging in sci-fi imaginings.
08-10-2010 , 05:05 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCowley
Quote:
Quote:
Print-to-speech reading machines for the blind are now very small, inexpensive, palm-sized devices that can read paper books, other printed documents, and other real-world text such as signs and displays.
WTF? A print-to-speech reading machine for the blind that can read signs. How would it even know where to look for a sign to read? Wrong.
seriously?
if you haven't heard of it doesn't make it not exist.

Last edited by rage4dorder; 08-10-2010 at 05:05 AM. Reason: linked
08-10-2010 , 05:21 AM
What I find most frightening is that people in this thread are arguing about whether the singularity will come or not, when they should be discussing the implications and ethics of such a future. All Skynet aside, I don't understand how people welcome the singularity as the next coming of Christ when all the history of nature points to the exact opposite of what they should expect. Futurists should take a lesson from Hume, and philosophy in general, and really think about what they are trying to do (If they can even comprehend it).

Fistbump with Micturition Man FTW.
08-10-2010 , 05:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lagdonk
I think you're underestimating certain technologies' potential to radically displace the inevitability of death, to become ends in themselves, and to answer questions once thought outside their purview. It doesn't really matter exactly when this will happen, or how certain it is to happen. But it can reasonably happen. Nor is our planet the only field in the universe where this kind of non-natural evolution is feasible.

Oh, and this is a TED talk on 'temes.'
The idea of death has been a very, very, important part of human culture since pretty much forever. Such a dramatic perspective shift would result in much confusion and anger, especially since most people couldn't afford it.

I think futurists greatly underestimate how culture influences thought and behavior, and to insinuate that human culture will become a modern day Renaissance or enlightened School of Athens is laughable by means argumentation.
08-10-2010 , 11:35 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rage4dorder
seriously?
if you haven't heard of it doesn't make it not exist.

And it doesn't do what the prediction said it would do- reading signs and other displays. This is a mix of past-post (the technology to read printed documents and such existed in 1976), a partial improvement in technology-locating the text in the visual field, and possibly some camera miniaturization over what would have been available in 1999- and partially wrong, because it can't do signs and displays. The percentages are debatable, but it's definitely not 100% correct (or 100% wrong).

Quote:
1.2 What the Reader Cannot Do
The Reader is not designed for use with handwriting or scrolling text on a screen or sign. Accuracy for household product containers (food boxes, tea bags, milk containers, detergent bottles, etc.) may vary, especially if the written information on these containers is artistically presented or is surrounded by pictures and graphics. Other circumstances that may lower accuracy include:
* text printed on cylinders with warped or incomplete images (such as soup cans or medicine bottles)
* LED and LCD screens (such as digital clocks, computer screens, and cell phone screens)
* vending machine buttons and instructions
* engraved print (such as serial numbers) on machines
* very large printed text
* posted signs such as signs on transit vehicles and signs in shop windows
* conventional, analog clocks

Last edited by TomCowley; 08-10-2010 at 11:41 AM.
08-10-2010 , 05:30 PM
TomCowley, or one of the other more articulate Kurzweil critics -

Recommend me a book by a futurist you do respect? This thread tilts me because I still don't understand why Kurzweil gets such vitriolic reactions. (I understand why so many disagree with him. But not the tone.)
08-10-2010 , 06:30 PM
I think Kurzweil is a goon, but I do think a technological explosion is imminent in the near future. He is not the only guy who thinks this. I am yet to see a respectable criticism of this idea.

It's hopeless to support any particular vision though, and an aspect that Kurzweil especially seems to inexplicably dismiss altogether is people's reluctance towards many of the "singularity" outcomes. Immortality and hyperintelligent AI sounds perfectly reasonable, but biology being replaced by technology altogether seems to me to be in radical conflict with mainstream values. Very few people would appreciate becoming cyborgs and then pure machines. I still think it's guaranteed in the long run, but I don't see how anyone could think it's guaranteed in 200 years, let alone 20, even if we had the technology to do it today. There is certainly a possibility that people will fail to keep technology under control, but a certainty? No way. Mainstream values making such a radical shift as to appreciate becoming machines seems even less likely within this timeframe. Even ****ing plastic surgery has tons of haters.

And sorry Ray but I'm preeety sure you're going to die. I might break it into the immortality cohort, but you're going down old man.

Last edited by Vantek; 08-10-2010 at 06:35 PM.
08-10-2010 , 07:16 PM
My tone towards kurzweil isn't because his predictions (for 2009, made in 1999, since those are my data atm) don't impress me as visionary (although others could well be worse, and maybe I should be impressed that he's better than they are, I have no idea), It's because his defense of his predictions is absurd. And I don't mean the couple of things (out of the significant number that I marked wrong) above where people were arguing, I'm talking about the ones that are just indefensible, he defends. Taken from here (most of these are not in my list because they weren't on the pages google books had available) http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/mi...9-predictions/

Quote:
Guy writing blog cites this as a failed prediciton: 1. Personal computers with high resolution interface embedded in clothing and jewelry, networked in Body LAN’s.

“Personal computers are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and are commonly embedded in clothing and jewelry…” When I wrote this prediction, portable computers were large heavy devices carried under your arm. Today they are indeed embedded in shirt pockets, jacket pockets, and hung from belt loops. Colorful iPod nano models are worn on blouses as jewelry pins or on a sleeve while running, health monitors are woven into undergarments, there are now computers in hearing aids, and there are many other examples. The prediction does not say that all computers would be small devices, just that this would be “common,” which indeed is the case.. And “computers” should not be restricted to the current category we happen to call “personal computers.” All of these devices – iPods, smart phones, etc. are in fact sophisticated “computers.” By a reasonable interpretation of the prediction and the current reality, it is correct, not “false.”
Among plenty of other possible quibbles, look at his defense- he declares ipods to be jewelry (Colorful iPod nano models are worn on blouses as jewelry pins), completely ignores the body LAN part, and calls himself correct.

Quote:
6. Warfare is dominated by unmanned intelligent airborne devices. Many of these flying weapons are the size of small birds, or smaller.

“Warfare is dominated by unmanned intelligent airborne devices” is certainly true in Afghanistan. As Wired recently noted, “The unmanned air war … has escalated under McChrystal’s watch….” Also there are munitions that are about the size of birds that can be released from larger aircraft and that have their own intelligent navigation.
Again, this prediction was just stupid to begin with (how were most of the entities likely to be at war (in 2009) going to afford this stuff or want to use it? It makes no sense). He's fortunate that the US is actually at war, making them a nontrivial part of modern warfare, but our record numbers of troops deployed (for the last 20 years at least) and getting blown the **** up in Afghanistan, and the fact that I'm not sure any battle in the last 10 years has even had these active on both sides, and the number of conflicts that do not have them at all, certainly make his claim of them "dominating warfare" severely overoptimistic. Why doesn't he just admit that the technology exists, and is likely to spread, but that his actual claim is far too broad?

Anybody who makes those arguments seriously... ff he believes them, he's downright delusional (and I guess he deserves pity instead of vitirol). If he doesn't, he's intellectually dishonest, and this is where I put him, and there is no limit to the amount of haterade I'll dump on somebody for doing that.

Last edited by TomCowley; 08-10-2010 at 07:28 PM.
08-10-2010 , 10:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rollos
The idea of death has been a very, very, important part of human culture since pretty much forever. Such a dramatic perspective shift would result in much confusion and anger, especially since most people couldn't afford it.

I think futurists greatly underestimate how culture influences thought and behavior, and to insinuate that human culture will become a modern day Renaissance or enlightened School of Athens is laughable by means argumentation.
Right. I agree. If you look over my last post, you'll notice that I was not simplistically cheerleading in favor of what technological evolution might cause. I was merely trying to correct what I perceived to be Micturition Man's assumptions about the 'proper' place and scope of technology in human life -- a place and scope which I feel are subject to radical and unpredictable alteration over time, be it for good or ill.
08-10-2010 , 11:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Micturition Man
Whether we die tomorrow or when the universe contracts to a singularity is immaterial to the question of what would make our lives worth living in the first place.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. Are you suggesting it is wrong if some thinker or current of thought tried to factor into the "question of what makes our lives worth living" information about "whether we die tomorrow or when the universe contracts" -- to the extent that such information is available? If so, why? I can reasonably imagine some nod toward or acknowledgment of informed or even open speculation about our possible future being built into a philosophy of "what makes life worth living." I'd need to hear a persuasive argument as to why we should rule it out of bounds.

Quote:
Furthermore to take solace in these distant anticipations of pseudo-immortality that will not arrive during our lifetimes is a clear example of relying on technologism as a substitute for religion or philosophy.
Your phrasing here strikes me as tautological in the following way: 'If someone takes solace in distant anticipations of a future technological utopia to some extreme level that displaces and replaces religion or philosophy, then it is a clear example of relying on technologism as a substitute for religion or philosophy.' Well, yes. But surely this is best proven on a case-by-case basis? People can be 'light' technologists. I suspect most are. Furthermore, there are subtleties being missed when proposing a diagnostic evaluation that so starkly opposes 'technologism' and 'philosophy,' when in reality there can be overlap and complimentarity between them.

Quote:
My problem with this is I think it's pretty clearly intellectually bogus. I think religion (I'm an atheist btw) and philosophy more honestly confront these problems of life and existence and mortality, whereas technologism is just a way of avoiding them by indulging in sci-fi imaginings.
You're privileging religion over sci-fi imaginings. This makes me a little sad. Religion has certainly had a venerable and distinguished career in the domain of 'confronting the problems of existence' -- but though science fiction is a microbial upstart in comparison, I think we can cut the poor little thing some slack. Imagining a technological utopia does not have to entail superficial escapism -- it can be a pleasant prospect in a wider set of possible and problematic futures that reasonable persons can contemplate and discuss. It's a key strain in sci-fi literature and culture, which themselves are one source for the musings of technologists -- whom you seem to have reduced to their shallowest subset.
08-11-2010 , 12:54 AM
What about this prediction: assuming there's no external calamity or prohibitionist Luddite buffoonery, the technology of the 21st century will progress at a rate of omfg awesome
08-11-2010 , 01:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by smrk
What about this prediction: assuming there's no external calamity or prohibitionist Luddite buffoonery, the technology of the 21st century will progress at a rate of omfg awesome
My dog could make that prediction.
08-11-2010 , 01:57 AM
A dog cannot make that prediction, read Wittgenstein
08-11-2010 , 02:17 AM
I don't buy anything Wittgenstein has to say about the mental states of dogs. Particularly dogs named Dennett
08-11-2010 , 02:58 AM
I call myself a transhumanist and I don't see any problem with it being labelled a religion. Aspiring to eternal life and, essentially, omnipotence/omniscience, while finding heightened meaning in life due to the hope (I wouldn't personally call it 'belief' but meh, semantics) of achieving escape velocity in our lifetimes, yeah, that's religion. To me the singularity is the point where science and religion meet.

m