Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the singularity man

Here are some video interviews for a fascinating introduction to Ray Kurzweil's ideas about where the exponential growth of technology will lead. There are four shortish videos, just follow the sidebar after viewing the first one.

One aspect of the video medium I like is that you pick up clues to the author's personality far more so than through the writing medium. His flippant comment about the current recession / depression reveals some intellectual detachment from important current issues. Nevertheless, without question he is very smart guy and the testimony from Stevie Wonder indicates a person of compassion, also.

Predicting the future is a very hard thing to do. The exponential growth of technology and nanotechnology is fascinating. Where will it lead us?

Rodney Brooks has some critical thoughts about Kurzweil's ideas in an Edge discussion about Biocomputation:
"A long time ago the brain was a hydrodynamic system. Then the brain became a steam engine. When I was a kid, the brain was a telephone switching network. Then it became a digital computer. And then the brain became a massively parallel digital computer. About two or three years ago I was giving a talk and someone got up in the audience and asked a question I'd been waiting for — he said, "but isn't the brain just like the World Wide Web?"

The brain is always — has always been — modeled after our most complex technology. We weren't right when we thought it was a steam engine. I suspect we're still not right in thinking of it in purely computational terms, because my gut feeling is there's going to be another way of talking about things which will subsume computation, but which will also subsume a lot of other physical stuff that happens"


Tom Hoffman said...

Kurzweil's predictions don't seem consistent with how bad we are at writing software, ontologies, etc.

Tony Forster said...

I was still onboard, despite the hype, until part 3 where he is selling health supplements. Overall, a smart thinker with good insight but nothing that amazing and a bit over hyped