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We Are The Robots

June 5, 2011

It’s a Very Natural Story

Over the last few weeks on Innovation Excellence, a LinkedIn Group, we’ve been battering about the notion of when will Artificial Intelligence (AI) meet or surpass man’s. The question was posed by, Carlos A. Sanchez.

How near is AI? Ever since the first Star Trek to HAL of Space Odyssey we have seen computers that all you have to do is ask to perform a task and then it does it. In the 30′s we thought it was in 1980, in the 80′s we thought it was in 2015, now when is this really going to become a reality?”

The answer, says Ray Kurzweil, will be around  2029. That will be when technology will achieve Singularity and will put us on the fast track to our Human Machine Destiny. Dr. Kurzweil is not an amateur futurist. He’s one of the brightest and boldest.

Ray Kurzweil is the best person I know at predicting the future of artificial intelligence. His intriguing new book envisions a future in which information technologies have advanced so far and fast that they enable humanity to transcend its biological limitations—transforming our lives in ways we can’t yet imagine.” – Bill Gates

From Publishers Weekly

Renowned inventor Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines) may be technology’s most credibly hyperbolic optimist. Elsewhere he has argued that eliminating fat intake can prevent cancer; here, his quarry is the future of consciousness and intelligence. Humankind, it runs, is at the threshold of an epoch (“the singularity,” a reference to the theoretical limitlessness of exponential expansion) that will see the merging of our biology with the staggering achievements of “GNR” (genetics, nanotechnology and robotics) to create a species of unrecognizably high intelligence, durability, comprehension, memory and so on.  See more at Amazon…

For thirty years Kurzweil has studied how technology exponentially improves. His Law of Accelerating Returns, like Moore’s Law, helped Ray calculate that by 2029, AI will achieve human levels of intelligence.

More Man/Machine Musing Ahead - 

“The Singularity” Film Trailer

This is a trailer for the feature documentary by Doug Wolens.

This project has been selected to the New York Film Market in September 2009 where there will be a work-in-progress screening of material from the film. It is anticipated that the film will be completed in 2011.

For more information, please go to the film’s website…

Ray does not accept man’s mortal fate. Raymond Kurzweil wants to live forever.  He was profoundly effected by the loss of his father at an early age (58), while Ray was just out of his teens. Ray believes that he will be able to resurrect his father by inputting his father’s artifacts and memories, that Ray has been carefully archiving, into an AI system.

Kurzweil believes we are mainly information, from DNA to memories, we are what we think. And, in the near future, by capturing, saving and distributing our unique information we can exist forever. In his books, films and talks he makes a good case for his beliefs. He has his detractors though and they express their doubts and concerns in an excellent documentary film about Ray called, Transcendent Man.

2009,  83 minutes

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is the subject of this documentary that follows him on a world speaking tour in which he expounds on his ideas about the merging of man and machine, which he predicts will occur in the not-so-distant future. The visionary who invented the first text-to-speech synthesizer and much more raises eyebrows here with his wildly optimistic views of a technology-enhanced future.

The documentary Transcendent Man is now available on Netflix…

All life on this planet has evolved naturally and organically, Ray says that will change when we transcend our biology and merge with machines. Some say that is when we will become gods. Interesting stuff that dreams are made upon. Of course, there is no guaranty we will progress to a better state – we may Devolve…

These ideas are not new with Kurzweil, philosophers and speculative writers have been noodling these concepts around since greek myths, like the story of  Theogony. And, the ancient Egyptians Pharaohs who brought their favorite items, pets and people with them when they died and prepared to cross over to the afterlife. They didn’t buy into the, “You can’t take it with you” prohibition.

Are we but mere mobile meat museums, carrying about imaginary dioramas of our life’s experiences?

I certainly agree with Ray’s great expectations, whether it happens by 2029 or sometime thereafter, time will tell. I’m all for becoming part of an eternal machine system by shucking off this aging, frail and flawed meat puppet body. At 64, I’m ready to trade-in this raggedy-assed, high and hard mileage, worn body and upgrade to a high-performing, V8 smart machine, that I can call the new me. Watch out ladies…

Of course, the old fashioned way of life extension, having kids, will stay around, it has its rewards, along with powerfully compelling start switch. And when I think about recycling or regenerating ourselves, I recall that nature does that too organically, the fallen fruit becomes a tree and so on. The Buddhist too have a way of looking at man as being connected to cycles and rhythms of nature, being and becoming a part of it all.

Alan Watts used to talk about the nature of god and intelligence. And how the universe becomes more complex and the planet earth becomes peopled, the way a tree becomes appled. Perhaps life is a game of “Boo” he said, like we play for babies. Appearing, surprisingly over their crib rails saying “Boo.” Startled they laugh and giggle. To see what I mean watch this wonderful video…

Watts supposed that in the game of life that god plays with people. And at some far distant future we will appear and peek around the Milky Way and say “Boo” to god making him laugh with delight at what we’ve become. Man or Machine – what’s it Matter? We’re all stuff on a journey. Enjoy the Trip – Boo!

For this post’s journey, please enjoy a short trip through some of the works of Kurzweil. He is a fascinating, visionary road warrior in his quest to slay entropy.  There’s also a couple of related music videos, one new – one old. This blog is a way for me to create and store some of my essence for my future machine being. Maybe, I’ll call him Jake.

I just ran across this interesting new music video by John Irwin. I interpreted it as a way of showing how we might be programming our machine analogs in the future. Irwin sees it differently, and since he made it…

Suicide or Savior – You Decide

Moby – After (hello, future.)

By John Irwin

This is my entry for the Saatchi & Saatchi ‘hello, future’ music video challenge. Thank you for the fun opportunity! I hope you all enjoy — make sure to watch till the end!
My take on Moby’s track “After” -
In a sterile and controlled future, suicide rates have risen and the powers-that-be are looking into the cause.  An operator resurrects a female victim and sifts through her psyche, trying to understand the mechanics of her suicide.

To conclude, let’s go back to one of my old favorites, the May 1978, Kraftwerk release The Robots from The Man-Machine.

A True Klassic from Kraftwerk

“The Man-Machine” was recorded at the Kling Klang Studio. Due to the complexity of the recording the album was mixed at Studio Rudas in Düsseldorf. The band hired sound engineer Leanard Jackson from Detroit to work together with Joschko Rudas on the final mix of the record. More from Wikipedia…

Man, Machine or Cyborg, you will live for ever and endlessly travel the universe seeking new knowledge and god’s giggle.

Be seeing you around the Milky Way or perhaps in the Googleplex…

Related articles:

Watson Wins Man Machine Match-up: IM post…

Here It Comes:  Glenn Harlan Reynolds, review of The Singularity Is Near in the WSJ…

The Singularity Is Near: Ray Kurzweil spoke about his book on C-SPAN video…

The Advent of Superautomation: by James S. Albus website…

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