Exponential growth[ edit ] Kurzweil characterizes evolution throughout all time as progressing through six epochs, each one building on the one before. Exponential growth is deceptive, nearly flat at first until it hits what Kurzweil calls "the knee in the curve" then rises almost vertically. As an example of super-exponential growth Kurzweil cites the computer chip business. The overall budget for the whole industry increases over time, since the fruits of exponential growth make it an attractive investment; meanwhile the additional budget fuels more innovation which makes the industry grow even faster, effectively an example of "double" exponential growth.
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Shelves: philosophy-theology , american , science , technology , sociology , epistemology-language Imminent Metaphysics The subtitle contains the entire thesis: an expectation that machines will allow human beings to escape the limitations of their physical bodies. This contention has been called daring, optimistic, arresting, really out there, outrageous, terrifying, and above all just big.
And certainly the idea that a machine can be linked to a brain to form what is effectively a new species is certainly that: Big. But in terms of bigness as Trump would say its a sideshow and not the Imminent Metaphysics The subtitle contains the entire thesis: an expectation that machines will allow human beings to escape the limitations of their physical bodies.
Of course human beings already have transcended much of their biology long ago. Humanity in its various sub-species did so through the core technology which he recognises as the source of just about all advances in human well-being and dispersion around the planet: the technology of language.
It is language which permits both complicated and large-scale cooperation among individuals, and which allows experience to be codified and stored over generations.
It is language - in the form of self-learning code - which is the foundation of the machines which Kurzweil envisions will be linked functionally to human brains in order to form a new sort of mind, a kind of Leibnizian monad, essentially disconnected from the world of its fellows, talking to itself in its own increasingly idiosyncratic language. But there is an issue, or rather a central fact, of our current situation which Kurzweil ignores.
Language is not the invention or the possession of an individual. It cannot be patented as a technology; it cannot be controlled in its development despite the Academie Francaise and high school English teachers ; and it requires a rather large population who implicitly assert its usefulness and right to survive.
Language is a collective endeavour. Although it is a technology, it is not a machine. It did so as a collective endeavour not as a connection between an individual human being and a machine. Kurzweil along with many others are myopically fascinated by electronic machines and their coding.
This is understandable. Machines are visible to everyone. They can be touched and measured and improved. They are the emblem of progress in industrial or post-industrial society. Language on the other hand is amorphous.
It is visible only in its use, and then just barely as language-users habitually substitute things for words. Languages work as well, but when language goes wrong, no one knows quite what to do about it. Machines may be complicated and their coded routines complex; but they are predictable in their operation even if surprise is the prediction. It is important to keep in mind that both machines and the human brain are shaped by language beyond their coding or genetic character.
Certainly some genetic mutation in the history of our species allowed the transition from mere signalling to complex language-based communication. But from that moment or evolutionary epoch , language transcended every individual who used it. And it was the technology that allowed everything from cave painting to the Library of Congress.
Language, that non-biological miracle of human existence, influenced genetic development itself, initially by setting rules about who could mate with whom, more recently through gene therapy. It may, however, be one of a complete submission to the dominance of that which we have arrogantly presumed is our instrument. What Kurzweil describes is indeed a new species, perhaps one with an unlimited intellectual potential and an indefinite but very long lifespan.
But this is a species whose entire world is language. It will have no other experience except in communication with other specific language-users. The species will not have transcended language, it will have been absorbed into it. The new species will be one entirely constituted by language. Greed will be unnecessary; words are infinitely abundant. Culture will flourish; words underpin not just technology but writing and arts of all kinds. All the rest of our emotional, sexual, and aesthetic needs will be supplied by the language of our coding, which will pursue its own evolutionary path, presumably at an accelerating rate.
Teilhard first used the term in his Cosmogenesis of It is human cognition, that is to say, language, which is the driving force for the transition from the biosphere.
It emerges and is sustained through the interaction of minds not through the isolated, algorithmic cogitation of new kinds of minds. The key relationship among minds for Teilhard is love, essentially existence for the sake of the other. This state is not one of subordination to language but to each other through language. The evolution of language in that direction does not result in a transcendent new species living next to the old Homo sapiens, but in an entire society which transcends itself.
Kurzweil, it occurs to me, is at heart an aesthete rather than a technologist; and his aesthetic is highly questionable. This is all a matter of practical metaphysics, our imagining of that which lies beyond language.
For most of modernity, by which I mean since the industrial revolution, metaphysics has been a field derided as philosophical self-abuse. I understand his use of advances in electronic technology as a focal point. Among other things, it sells. Nevertheless, the significance of his own analysis is not about the new composite mind, it is about the relationship among minds and how these relationships can develop a world which is imminently liveable not transcendentally detached.
This is a moral not a technical issue. But I think Teilhard has some good alternative suggestions.
La singularidad está cerca – Ray Kurzweil
LA SINGULARIDAD ESTA CERCA
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