The Technological Singularity, referred to as “the singularity” by transhumanists, signifies a point in time where self-aware self-improving artificial intelligence that could surpass the intelligence of the human brain manifests.
If science fiction can be used to build imaginaries, then the Culture, as imagined by Iain M. Banks, may serve as an alternative model. See also:
“Artificial intelligences and political organization: an exploration based on the science fiction work of Iain M. Banks”, Technology in Society, Volume 34, Issue 1, 2012, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160791X11000728
(Free older version available at: http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/rumpalaepaper.pdf )
As I have had occasion to point out on many times before:
The quite natural anthropocentric mindsets of those of of the transhumanist cult leave them with vague woolly notions that the advancement of technology is something over which we humans have significant control.
But this is putting the cart before the horse! The reality being that it is, in its broader aspects, an autonomous evolutionary process.
Indeed, it appears that most of us seem to fail to notice we are increasingly, in a sense, “enslaved” by our PCs, mobile phones, their apps, and many other trappings of the increasingly cloudy net and the ever-growing insidious reticulation to peripheral devices.
We are already largely dependent upon it for our commerce and industry and there is no turning back. What we have fondly perceived to be a tool is well on its way to becoming an agent.
It may be humiliating to have to admit that our species, far from being potential “masters of the universe” or the “pinnacle of biology”, is simply a tiny cog in the humongous machinery of nature. But, viewed objectively, that is quite clearly the way it is.
And that our only claim to distinction is that our collective imagination is the medium in which technology has autonomously evolved in the course of the past 2.5 million years.
Furthermore, that, within decades, we can reasonably expect to become redundant to that process.
The construction of a “brain” that will soon equal and then surpass that typical of our species has for long been a work in progress. Not as a result of any deliberate human “design” but rather as the result of an autonomous evolutionary process that can be seen to have run its exponential course since humankind acquired the ability to share imagination, an ability which we know as language.
Very real evidence indicates the rather imminent implementation of the next, (non-biological) phase of the on-going evolutionary “life” process from what we at present call the Internet.
It is effectively evolving, in the tradition of biology, by a process of self-assembly.
The broader evolutionary model which supports this is outlined, very informally, in “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” , a free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website.
As John Horgan said Singularitarianism is almost a type of religion at this point. “God in a box” etc is not scary to me, but the people who worship it do. Whether it be a “posthuman” or “techno-singularity” I would hope that it is smart enough to not just tell us how to live longer lives, but most importantly help us integrate with it to enhance ourselves, our moral theories, politics, and the way the world is run to increase education, prosperity, health, happiness, etc. But what else would we expect from a god? I don’t know exactly what to make of the “technological singularity” as it is understood today, but I would hope no one dies and that intelligence does indeed equal moral enhancement as well. (which would probably mean the destruction of the social-Darwinian like workings of capitalism)
Technological advancement is certainly an active choice made by humans, if not all, then by some. the empowered ruling classes decide what technologies to invest in. This is not a collective decision of the class, however, the general ideology of such classes determines the nature of such investments. Financial interest in artificial intelligence seems to be focused on its possible military uses. Technology has social implications and attachments, it is not some separate “evolutionary” trend and is not always subject to anything similar to natural selection. Most modern digital technology has its roots in industrial uses well before it becomes a consumer good, often in a different form. These are active decisions by certain classes and advanced intelligence will be under the same social power controls that we face. It’s not inherently going to cause a drastic change just by existing. Technology does not “evolve”. There are VERY distinct differences between evolution and the development of technologies.
Posted by CygnusX1 on 12/13 at 03:06 PM
Peter Thiel may indeed be pursuing his “own” objectivist ideal? He may even be suffering delusions of aspiring to be Galt himself? Yet who is he really convincing? I do not believe that folks, the proletariat are so dumb to blindly follow demi-gods? I would have more faith in Humans and social democracy?
If Humanity is merely a cog in the evolutionary machinations of the Cosmos, then so be it? It is inevitable that Humans will create/inspire advanced machine intelligence, this IS purpose and direction? What is there to fear from the rational mind/machine?
Again, if one drills beyond the flawed pretence of Ayn Rand, and understands the existential philosophy concerning personal fulfillment/rational self interest which she blatantly professes as Self-ishness, (it is not!), then you will understand that no one should forfeit their lives/happiness to another? Very Libertarian/democratic?
The Objectivist flaw? All knowledge is supported on the shoulders of giants, no man is an Island?
Posted by contraterrine on 12/18 at 09:10 AM
I think to speculate on the motives of strong AI’s if we do not directly program them are meaningless, it’s like asking a dolphin about chimpanzee culture.
Capitalism will effectively be overthrown when out tech becomes self replicating and able to effect replicator type function, so we become a post-scarcity culture.
At that advanced level though, it’s just a guessing game as to what will constitute social and monetary currency.
Posted by CygnusX1 on 03/09 at 05:45 AM
In fact, let’s highlight your previous article here also..
My previous comment above, (middle paragraph), is also hinting beyond Marxism and at Hegel, (idolized by Marx and Engels), and more holistically and historically at the “world spirit” as embracing the benefit and evolution of Humanity as a whole, and perhaps even more importantly the evolution of the “world”, (all species), as purposeful and directive, and.. unstoppable?
This is a more favoured utilitarian position for me, and this is always at tension with the value and worth and happiness of the individual, (objectivism), yet also incorporates my views and understanding of spiritual and social “Unity” and the strength of diverse individuals bonding to form understanding and cooperation, (much stronger and enduring that authoritarian and enforced unity?)