Singularity Summit 2009 Featured in Carl Zimmer Article in Scientific American

Carl Zimmer wrote this: “Can You Live Forever? Maybe Not — But You Can Have Fun Trying“. This is a very positive, yet slightly skeptical look at the Singularity movement. This article is a follow-up to Zimmer’s earlier article in Playboy, which came out this January. This year, there have been articles on the Singularity Summit and Singularity Institute in Playboy, GQ, the UK Independent, and Scientific American. Here’s a funny bit from the current article:

After the meeting I decided to visit to researchers working on the type of technology that people such as Kurzweil consider the steppingstones to the Singularity. Not one of them takes Kurzweil’s own vision of the future seriously. We will not have some sort of cybernetic immortality in the next few decades. The human brain is far too mysterious and computers far too crude for such a union anytime soon, if ever. In fact some scientists regard all this talk of the Singularity as a reckless promise of false hope to the afflicted.

But when I asked these skeptics about the future, even their most conservative visions were unsettling: a future in which people boost their brains with enhancing drugs, for example, or have sophisticated computers implanted in their skulls for life. While we may never be able to upload our minds into a computer, we may still be able to build computers based on the layout of the human brain. I can report I have not drunk the Singularity Kool-Aid, but I have taken a sip.

Taking a sip is a subset of drinking.

Comments

  1. Gus K

    “The human brain is far too mysterious and computers far too crude for such a union anytime soon, IF EVER.”

    I find it hard to believe that “serious” scientists don’t believe that uploading will “ever” be possible. Have they never heard of the Church-Turing thesis? Anyone who makes a statement like this merely destroys his own credibility as a scientist, however good a technician he may be in some narrow subdiscipline.

    There is, however, legitimate debate about the speed and form of emerging technologies, including a reasonable position that singulitarians may be a bit optimistic.

    • My thoughts exactly, Gus. Anyone who says these things will NEVER happen strikes me as a huge dumbass with no imagination or appreciation of the transitional place we are at in history. So, in the year 1,200,300,346,476 we STILL won’t be able to upload our minds? You’re an idiot.

      Within 200 years we’ll either be immortal superintelligences, or extinct.

  2. From the comments thread of Zimmer’s article: “The simple fact is that no conceivable technology could be used to mediate any kind of large-scale information transfer from the brain to machines.”

    Uh, what about super-high-resolution destructive scanning of the brain resulting in a 1-to-1 virtual map of all significant brain structures and neural morphology? Already underway.

    Someone please tell me why people are not able to grasp these seemingly pretty simple things. Maybe they’re just brainwashed by bio-mysterian blogs like Pharyngula? I don’t know.

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