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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Future Is The Same As It Ever Was for 2016

Frogdesign has coughed up its first hairball of Tech Trends 2016. Given the Unbearable Stasis of Accelerating Change you will be unsurprised that our suave professional futurists predict 2016 will be the year of Big VR (again), Big AI (again), personalized medicine (again), crypto transcendence of nation state politics (again) .... What, no low earth orbit love hotels or cell-cultured celebrity burgers this year? Fear not, that bleeding edge future can still be regurgitated again for 2017! And you better believe that multi-century longevity meds, history-ending superintelligent AI, sexy sexbots, profitable geo-engineering eco-miracles, and another chapter of white imperialism mining Mars and the asteroids via space elevator all remain, as ever, Just! Twenty! Years! Away! In! The! Future! Exciting times, especially if you're into bank fraud.


jimf said...

> Fear not, that bleeding edge future can still be regurgitated

Ben Goertzel Talk on Modern Cosmism Conference NYC 10/10/15
Cosmism Foundation
Published on Oct 19, 2015
What will the advent of advanced AI and robotics mean for humanity?
I'm going to start by describing what Cosmism means to me,
and the ideas underlying what I think of as Cosmism
are really things I learned when I was a child from reading
science fiction, well before I knew that the Russian
"cosmists" had even existed. I grew up in the early 1970s,
first of all, watching the original _Star Trek_ on TV
with my dad, which was pretty cool. You had Spock with
the pointy ears and Captain Kirk all macho beating up the
aliens, and then. . . Each week you had a new strange
alien civilizations or intelligent robots with the defective
minds -- all these things seemed a lot more interesting
than what was going on at school or in my local neighborhood.
So that definitely grabbed my mind, and I started grabbing
all the science fiction novels I could find, and there,
as everyone who's gone through the science fiction of the
40s, 50s and 60s knows, pretty much every possible
futurist idea was there in some science fiction story,
from superintelligent oceans, all sorts of, kinds of Singularities,
minds and aliens of different sorts all over the galaxy,
virtual realities, I mean it's all there in some science
fiction or other. The plot and the characterization aren't
necessarily the best -- sometimes they are, sometimes they
aren't -- but the **ideas** are amazing. And I grew up
with all that. And I really wanted to see all these amazing
superintelligences and alien civilizations and virtual
realities, and get to become a robot and fly through stars
and talk to superintelligent black holes, and go to
other universes, and. . . I didn't see how that was going
to happen in my lifetime, living in Eugene, Oregon in
the early 70s. It's a cool place, a lot of hippies hanging
out in the park, strumming the guitar, marching to protest
the Vietnam War and so on, but I couldn't see how we were
going to get superintelligent robots flying through black
holes in my lifetime. It seemed like everyone was just
hanging out smoking weed and enjoying themselves, basically,
so -- not that there's anything wrong with that, but. . .
I conceived a plan to build a spacecraft which would fly
away from Earth at close to the speed of light and then come
back to Earth like a million years later when all these amazing
things would have finally been achieved, right? And there
was some logic to that. . . If you could fly away at .9 of c
and come back in a million years, surely while you were having
fun on that spacecraft for a couple years, many people would've
been working for a thousand generations on Earth to create AI
and longevity pills and super robots and whatever else you wanted.
Seemed like a decent plan, so I figured I would spend my life
making a propulsion mechanism that would let me go away from
Earth and come back in the future.


jimf said...

(Ben Goertzel, cont'd)

By the time I got to university in the 1980s, things seemed
a bit different. For one thing, I'd learned to program the
computer when I was 13 or 14 years old, which was harder then
than now. . . But once you have a computer and you can program,
then you start to see there's a lot of power there, and you start
to think, well, some of these amazing things **could** be done
in your own lifetime because, programming, you can create
whatever world you think of inside that computer, and if you
have a computer that's just a bit more powerful, maybe you
could create a mind or a universe, or a set of artificial
organisms, whatever you want inside that computer. Once I
saw the power of programming, I started to think perhaps
one could actually do some of these things inside our lifetime.
Perhaps you could create a thinking machine just by figuring
out the right sequence of commands to type on that little
computer. Perhaps you could figure out how to make people
not die by simulating the human body inside that computer.
Perhaps you could program a virtual reality there and somehow
jump into it. There's a lot of power in being able to type
whatever code you like. It makes you think differently about
the universe as well, leading to ideas like, maybe this whole
universe is just a big computer. You see you can program
whatever world you want in that computer, well, that leads
immediately to the idea of the Matrix, which was already
there in loads of earlier science fiction novels. Maybe
this world we're in now is just programmed by some other alien
13-year-old kid in another universe programming a video
game, and we're just random non-player characters inside his
video game. My thinking shifted due to computer technology,
and I started to think maybe we can do all these things inside
our own lifetime. I recount this ancient history not just
because I'm a nostalgic old man, but because it's indicative
of exponential progress of the whole. . . progress toward
the Singularity. The fact that during my own lifetime things
could go from an attitude of wow, how would we ever do
these things in our lifetime to all of a sudden you have
computers, you have the internet, you have a supercomputer in
your pocket. Where I live in Hong Kong, every person in the
street is constantly walking around staring at their
pocket supercomputer, not looking at the world around them.
The fact that you can see these changes within a single person's
lifetime is indicative of the fact that we live in a very
unusual time, where we're approaching what Ray Kurzweil,
Vernor Vinge, and others have called the Technological
Singularity. When you think about it, for most of human
history, we didn't have this type of situation. People living
in Australian Aboriginal tribes or Medieval Europe, most of
your life, things are just the same as they were. . .
When you die, the knowledge available is about the same
as when you were born. . . Very very few changes and
innovations would have happened during a typical person's
lifetime. The last couple hundred years are quite different. . .

(cont'd 2)

jimf said...

(Ben Goertzel, cont'd 2)

And now, it's quite different than when I was a kid. . .
When I was a kid, the gadgets we had in our house were
the same year after year. It was five years or something
before you got some slightly new form of technology. . .
Now, I can't learn to use all the features of my new phone
before the phone becomes obsolete and there's a new one
that comes out. Trying to keep up with all the radical
innovations in science and technology -- actually, you'd
just be reading the news all day. You can't keep up with
it all. This is an unprecedented situation. It indicates that
we are rapidly moving toward what Kurzweil, Vinge and others
have called a Singularity. . . What if there's a new
Nobel-prize-worthy scientific discovery every five seconds?
A new technological revolution every hour? . . .
You're in a domain where I. J. Good's statement that the
first intelligent machine is the last invention humanity
needs to make becomes very relevant. . . It's not going to
be human beings inventing things at this pace, at least not
human beings in the current sense of biological life-forms
with brains very similar to those that have been evolving
for tens and hundred of thousands of years. . .
Suppose this progress is really leading up
to a rate of progress that's infinite from the point of
view of human psychology. How are we going to make sense
of all this? What does life mean when there's nearly
infinite intelligence next door or even inside your brain,
when you have the possibility of taking your mind out
of your brain and pouring it into some different substrate,
into a robot, into a video game, into -- maybe some organization
of light and degenerate matter as the Russian cosmists of
a long time ago foresaw. How do you make sense of life in
this context? What is the meaning of anything? This is
really what Cosmism as a philosphy tries to address. . .
Transhumanism, as a philosophy and way of thinking, is very
very broad. . . It doesn't intrinsically say what we should
try to become or why, it's more transcending, being extropic,
going beyond traditional humanity. Cosmism is actually a
richer philosophy and tries to give an integrated point of
view on what is the meaning of going beyond humanity. . .
The term Cosmism came out of the Russian cosmists. . .
As I've recounted, these ideas are things that I came into
contact with from science fiction well before I heard of
the Russian cosmists -- [knew that] Fyodorov and Tsiolkovsky
and all these guys existed. . . Giulio Prisco and I
worked together on a brief series of principles. . . that
characterize Cosmism. Humans will merge with our technology --
could be mind uploading, brain-computer interfacing, transmitting
our ideas and our memeplexes to AGIs. . .

I blame it on the Bossa Nova. ;->

jimf said...

> Big AI (again)

You mean Big Gay Al?

Big gay Al - I'm super!