Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Guru Kurzweil Passes the Robot Cult Collection Plate for Google to Fill

The faithful of the singularitarian sect of the Robot Cult are no doubt howling hosannas at the prospect of the acceleration of acceleration's acceleration toward the history-shattering nerd-rapture any day now that Google has decided to fling "sufficient resources for a very important project" his way. We all know what "very important project" means, mm hm?

Today Kurzweil codes "your cybernetic friend," tomorrow the Robot God delivers sooper-intelligence, sooper-longevity, super-powers, sooper-abundance!

Since ultimately it is those Randroidal/Heinleinian archetypes, celebrity tech-CEOs and pop-tech journos, guru-wannabes, and PR mavens of high-tech capitalism who are delivering us so generously to Holodeck Heaven under the ministrations of a Robot God of loving grace, it just plain makes sense that in the meantime
This friend of yours, this cybernetic friend, that knows that you that have certain questions about certain health issues or business strategies. And, It [note the capital letter for a fledgling God --d] can then be canvassing all the new information that comes out in the world every minute and then bring things to your attention without you asking about them.
Yes, before we arrive at the Singularity we will be bequeathed with the blessing of being incessantly harassed with a stream of advertising content from corporations reminding you what you care about without even knowing you do! Some "friend" that would be. Why, I believe I already have some "friends" like that, name of Aunt Gemima, Orville Redenbacher, and Flo the feisty insurance peddler. Things are getting so different so fast sometimes it's hard not to yawn from the future shock.

Even if one is skeptical of the hyperbolic promises of Robot Cultists, the article I linked to on this topic is definitely worth reading, if only to enjoy a rare glimpse of the sorts of meditations to which titanic thought-leaders devote the few precious portions of their days not already given over to innovative skim and scam ass-kickery of the high tech variety, to wit:
"If you write a blog post, you’re not just creating a bag of words, you’re creating some meaningful sentences." -- Ray Kurzweil, philosopher (and optimist)

"Is it a ‘hot dog’ or a ‘hotdog.’ And, if you knew something about whether the person had dogs, or whether the person was a vegetarian, you’d have a very different potential answer to that question." -- Eric Schmidt, deep thinker (and chairman of Google)
I haven't even tried to correct these quotations for their grammatical idiosyncrasies, since, after all, the rich are not like you and me, they break the rules, man, they will not be constrained, there are no limits, "The Future" to the extre-e-e-e-eme!


jimf said...

> Google can combine the personalized recommendations of
> a friend (who often know us better than we know ourselves)
> with the sum of all human knowledge, creating a sort of
> super best friend.

A "super best friend" who's at the beck and call of all
the advertisers in the world, not to mention the police
and the Department of Homeland Security.

I suppose cookies will have to be enabled in the Web
browser, no?

Or will it be necessary to sign in to one's Google account
(as I'm going to have to do to post this comment) in
order to use Google at all?

Hm. I wonder if, if you happen to be a Mormon, whether
your "super best friend" will report automatically to your
bishop if you search on-line for dirty pictures.
Or for "Lyndon Lamborn". Or maybe if you just watch a
"Mormon Stories" or "Mormenlikeme" YouTube video.

Pam Opticon -- this is right up your alley! ;->

Dale Carrico said...

Oh, you know Pam Opticon wants Godling Google up her alley in the worst way.

Black guy from the future past said...

@ Dale Carrico. I'll just leave this here:

For all the oong-and aaing of computers soon being able to surpass humans in well...just about everything, they seem to make REALLY crappy music. Also, peep the comments below, not even the beguiled regulars of the site, that regularly panders to the likes of George Dvorsky, could stand it. Very relevant to the pseudo-crank (he did some things right, helped out Stevie Wonder after all, have to give credit where it's due): Ray Kurzweil, who one day believes computers will be machine gods. Seems the computers have a long way to go before they can even compose a decent bit of music, let alone become machine gods.

jimf said...

> Seems the computers have a long way to go
> before they can even compose a decent bit of music. . .

FSVO "decent".

> Ray Kurzweil. . .

He's got a secret.

Black guy from the future past said...

@jimf AHAHAA even during 1965 the first lady to comment on the piece knew that the music was weird sounding. Saying "that's a very unlikely sounding piece of music". 47 years later and computer compositions have hardly taken a step forward, as evinced in the comments section of the link I posted in my previous comment. FORTY... SEVEN... YEARS. All that time and so little progress.

jimf said...

> FORTY... SEVEN... YEARS. All that time and so little progress.

Well, yes and no. ;->

Computers may not be creating best-selling novels, screenplays,
or CDs, but notice that the machine on that show seems to
have been built out of electromechanical relays.

The electronics and telecommunications infrastructure that
now, in 2013, lets us watch that old clip on YouTube
**is** a staggering advance on what was available in
1965 (even though what was available even in 1965 was
admittedly also a great deal more than what a 17-year-old could
cobble together at home -- the IBM System/360 mainframe
was already on the market, as was the Digital Equipment
Corporation PDP-8 minicomputer).

**Despite** that, admittedly staggering, advance,
GOFAI is still a (misguided) dream (which Arthur C. Clarke
had been crowing about a couple of years earlier
in _Profiles of the Future_).

We've got PCs galore (**each** of them with processing
speeds and storage capacities that couldn't have been
had for any amount of money in 1965, let alone the current
world aggregate of a billion -- or however many -- of them, all
networked together), and Google and Wikipedia and
Amazon and eBay (and -- gag -- Facebook and Twitter).
And YouTube. But no HAL. And he still ain't on
the horizon.

> the first lady to comment on the piece

Bess Myerson, a former Miss America. They don't make
'em like they used to. ;->

jollyspaniard said...

There's a prospective god trying to sell me viagra. I fear what this means when the spamularity happens.

jimf said...

> But no HAL. And he still ain't on the horizon.

It crossed my mind this morning that 1965 also saw the premiere
of _Lost in Space_ (in black and white!), that utterly cheesy
(though it started off "serious") homage to the then
nine-year-old movie _Forbidden Planet_.

Set in the far-future year of 1997, the saucer-shaped ship
came with a somewhat tubbier and dimmer-witted (though nameless)
version of "Robbie" (from _F. P._), whose tag line became
"Danger, Will Robinson!"

It's amusing to reflect that though _Lost in Space_ was
utterly worthless as "serious" science fiction (as _Star Trek_
later attempted to be, with a good deal more success),
it gained a permanent following as a result of its camp appeal,
not least because the Dr. Smith character evolved from
a Bond-movie villain into a comic sissy-man in the tradition
of Edward Everett Horton, Franklin Pangborn, and Eric Blore.

For that matter, Robbie in _Forbidden Planet_ was a sissy-bot
(as was his successor C3PO in _Star Wars_).

Half a century later, sissies are a major social and political
issue in the U.S., while the space program is all but defunct,
and there are no robots, alas.

Sissies were The Future!