Apr 24, 2005

And one, two, three...singularity here we come!

"One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue." -- Stanislaw Ulam, May 1958, referring to a conversation with John von Neumann

In 1965, statistician I. J. Good described a concept even more similar to today's meaning of singularity, in that it included in it the advent of superhuman intelligence:

"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an 'intelligence explosion,' and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make."
1993: Vinge's essay "Technological Singularity" contains the oft-quoted statement that "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly thereafter, the human era will be ended."

2001: n his essay, The Law of Accelerating Returns , Ray Kurzweil writes: An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century -- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The "returns," such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity -- technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

2005: So where are we now? Check the recent (April 23rd) New Scientist: Whatever happened to machines that think?
In the next few months, after being patiently nurtured for 22 years, an artificial brain called Cyc (pronounced "psych") will be put online for the world to interact with. And it's only going to get cleverer. Opening Cyc up to the masses is expected to accelerate the rate at which it learns, giving it access to the combined knowledge of millions of people around the globe as it hoovers up new facts from web pages, webcams and data entered manually by anyone who wants to contribute. Crucially, Cyc's creator says it has developed a human trait no other AI system has managed to imitate: common sense. "I believe we are heading towards a singularity and we will see it in less than 10 years," says Doug Lenat of Cycorp, the system's creator.

It is close. Every day, it gets closer. Today? Tommorow? Next decade? I don't know about you, but I *am* expecting to see Singularity during my lifetime...

Apr 18, 2005

A year in review OR a new mission statement

This entry I will do something I rarely do: I will write a little about myself. Please bear with me - at least if you want to know the reason for lack of updates over the past weeks and what is likely to happen next. If you are a causal - or first time - reader, I invite you to go throug archieve instead, as most of my entries are more interesting then this, and few lose their relevance.

It has been a year since I started this blog. A lot has happened since then. A year ago, I had just obtained my MA in Economy, I was torn between looking for job, looking for a doctorate and just 'living the life'. One of the reasons that made me start this blog was my desire to keep contact with other human beings, since I lost touch with majority of my student-day collegues. Another was because I believe I had something to share with you - something interestign along the lines of various reviews, ideas, links and such.

Now many of this has changed. I am pursuing a doctorate, which does take some of my time (and is likely to take even more with time) and I discovered an apparently better venue for my desire to contribute to others - meaning you - the Wikipedia. While this blog has received at best a little over 50 hits per months, my Wikipedia contributions, especially my eight (so far) Featured Articles, had been viewed by scores of thousands. I would like to take this moment to thank all of my readers - you, again - especially Jason C, the only person who more or less regulary commented on my posts, and therefore is the only person I can actually name and thank in person (I could try to make an educated guess based on some IPs, but if you want to remain anonymous, well, it is your choice :) ). You were the reason that kept me blogging, hoping to make your time visiting this site worthwile. But web gravitation - and simple common sense - made me spend more and more time on Wiki, were my contribution is simply much more valuable - instead of being of mild interest to few dozens of people, it is of use to many many more.

What I want to say, basically, is that barring any comments on your side, I will likely settle on blogging once per week or less. I simply don't think this is useful anymore - to me or you - compared with what I (and you) can do with our time on Wikipedia.

Feel free to drop here again. I will likely post, as always, various trivia and useful links that I think are important - or just *so* funny. Or anything you request. Just no so often as I used to.

Take care and visit my Wiki homepage to check on my most recent articles!

Apr 4, 2005

Something begins, something ends

It is nice to see something one helped to create grow. And no, I am not talking about Wiki this time. Check Worldcon blog entry on Games Research Association of Poland.

In other news. A great man has passed away. I am sure you know who I mean. But still, you may want to check His entry on Wiki. In Poland, I have seen many mourning flags and such. And I have heard - seen, read - that it is common in many other parts of the world. I wonder if any other person alive today could commend such loyality...or love? Truly, the Pope was the friend of us all.

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