future shock

i recently had a new opportunity to test the future shock resistance of someone i know. exposing people to the geekiest, farthest-out ideas and concepts i am aware of, my aim is to determine how people cope with staggering possibilities that shake their belief systems. will they deny it? ridicule it? marvel at it, fear it?

future shock
A Shock Level measures the high-tech concepts you can contemplate without being impressed, frightened, blindly enthusiastic – without exhibiting future shock. Shock Level Zero or SL0), for example, is modern technology and the modern-day world, SL1 is virtual reality or an ecommerce-based economy, SL2 is interstellar travel, medical immortality or genetic engineering, SL3 is nanotech or human-equivalent AI, and SL4 is the Singularity.

the best test for future shock is the singularity.

It began four million years ago, when brain volumes began climbing rapidly in the hominid line.

50’000 years ago with the rise of Homo sapiens sapiens.
10’000 years ago with the invention of civilization.
500 years ago with the invention of the printing press.
50 years ago with the invention of the computer.

In less than 30 years, it will end.

“Here I had tried a straightforward extrapolation of technology, and found myself precipitated over an abyss. It’s a problem we face every time we consider the creation of intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity – a place where extrapolation breaks down and new models must be applied – and the world will pass beyond our understanding.”

— Vernor Vinge, True Names and Other Dangers, p. 47.

robot p0

Honda’s ASIMO, the world’s most advanced humanoid robot, rang the opening bell for trading at NYSE on February 14), 2002.

very impressive. In terms of software, we should aim at promoting a social infrastructure where humanoid robots will be widely and easily accepted. This is a particularly significant issue when considering the appearance of the humanoid robot. Honda hopes that the time will come when humanoid robots play an important role in serving us and enriching our lives and society.

humans in space: don’t

economist: It is true that science can be done in the space station. But science can also be done dressed in a clown suit atop a large Ferris wheel. The argument ought to be over where is the best place for it. Performing experiments in micro gravity does not require a $100 billion platform. Moreover, much of the work that can genuinely be done only on the station is justified through another magnificently circular leap of logic. Research into the effects of micro gravity on human health and the growth of soy beans, for instance, is useful only in the context of a manned mission to Mars.

it doesn’t pay to lift humans out of earths gravity well. billions each year could instead be spent on research and development for cheaper transport options, spurring the advent of a commercial space industry.

minimal life

US geneticist Craig Venter has been given ethical approval and a government grant to build the first artificial bacterium. Working with Nobel Prize-winning DNA expert Hamilton Smith, he plans to create a single-celled organism with the minimum number of genes to sustain life.

this could be the drosophila of proteomics by having an idealized organism that is as simple as it can possibly be. even then, this organism will still be orders of magnitude more complex than cellular automata. now that i have more time, i need to delve into a new kind of science

holographic video

MIT technology review: The diffraction pattern from just one high-resolution hologram can easily use up more than a terabyte of data — enough to fill 1),600 compact discs. A moderately flicker-free holographic video would require at least 20 such holograms per second. Clearly, churning through 20 terabytes worth of information every second would require extraterrestrial technology: today’s fastest PCs operate at one- hundred-thousandth that rate.

trusted brains

Another problem for the entertainment companies is what they’re calling the “analog hole.” This recognizes the fact that human beings are not digital, so digital programming has to be converted to a format, known as analog, that we can see and hear.

according to ray kurzweil, computers will have the capacity of the human brain by 2020.

The memory capacity of the human brain is about 100 trillion synapse strengths (neurotransmitter concentrations at interneural connections), which we can estimate at about a million billion bits. In 1998), a billion bits of RAM (128 megabytes) cost about $200. The capacity of memory circuits has been doubling every eighteen months. Thus by the year 2023), a million billion bits will cost about $1),000.3 However, this silicon equivalent will run more than a billion times faster than the human brain. There are techniques for trading off memory for speed, so we can effectively match human memory for $1),000 sooner than 2023.

if the MPAA and friends have their way it will have to run on trusted hardware. mind control?

shortening the path to singularity

the world is getting more complex at a rate we can’t cope with, it seems. the fabric of society needs to be updated. collaboration needs to happen at deeper and broader levels, entire layers of abstraction need to be designed to fight complexity. can massively parallel collaboration technologies help? i hope so, and david gelernter thinks so as well.

his livestreams concept sounds like an advanced form of weblogs to me.

a charity to improve the human condition

reading vernor vinges a fire upon the deep has raised my interest in hard science fiction a lot.
vinge raises so many questions in his book that one wonders how the world well prepare for what is to come. vinge, the mind behind the vinge singularity (describing a process of self improvement that is exponential, going off-scale rather quickly) also talks about nano technology.

that is when i came across the foresight institute, a charity after my likings. instead of fiddling around with the present human condition (which is worthwhile, but maybe not the best use of resources), its goal is to guide emerging technologies to improve the human condition. Foresight focuses its efforts upon nano technology, the coming ability to build materials and products with atomic precision, and upon systems that will enhance knowledge exchange and critical discussion, thus improving public and private policy decisions.

there is so much to write about and so little time.. next time i shall mention the concept of future shock, extropians and so on..

creating friendly ai: challenges

Success in Friendly AI can have positive consequences that are arbitrarily large, depending on how powerful a Friendly AI is. Failure in Friendly AI has negative consequences that are also arbitrarily large. The farther into the future you look, the larger the consequences (both positive and negative) become. What is at stake in Friendly AI is, simply, the future of humanity.

with such high stakes, taking a cautious approach has an entirely new meaning. for instance the slightest error might result in the emergence of unfriendly ai. knowing that human design capabilities are limited and error prone, how do you design such a system?

what is good?

Thus, Creating Friendly AI uses “volition-based Friendliness” as the assumed model for Friendliness content. Volition-based Friendliness has both a negative aspect – don’t cause involuntary pain, death, alteration, et cetera; try to do something about those things if you see them happening – and a positive aspect: to try and fulfill the requests of sentient entities.

in other words, the only way out is to make sure the ai has an active interest in being friendly.