May 12, 2010

One Singular Sensation

I've had a post in my draft folder brewing for a few months now about something called singularity that keeps popping up in my sci-fi readings these days. It's basically the idea that there is some kind of technological evolutionary point that we are approaching at an exponential rate. Just what that point is and what will come about because of it is the unknown factor in the theoretical equation. Extended life-spans? Download-able conscience? True Artificial Intelligence? A Sarah Palin sex cyborg? We just don't know.

It's the exponential rate of growth of our technology that is the key to understanding or accepting that this rapidly approaching singularity is a possibility. At least for me. Moore's law describes a trend in computer technology in which the number of transistors that can fit on an integrated circuit has doubled roughly every two years. Anyone who has thought out the classic math question of whether you would rather be given $1 million right now or 1 penny doubled each day for a full month* knows where that is heading.

*Always go for the penny doubled each day for a month.  After 28 days you would net $2,684,354.55.  After 30 days it would be $10,737,418.23.  And if it were one of the longer 31 day months you would wind up with $21,474,836.47!!!

It's both exciting and frightening stuff. Especially the unknown factor of where it's going to all wind up. Because that's the nature of this idea. The result of this so-called singularity will be so far from we are now able to technically understand that it would be like explaining an iPad to someone born 1000 years ago. Except maybe even they would be pissed that it didn't multi-task or do whatever else the geek-world wants it to do.

So I had no idea where I was going with this topic or why I wanted to write about it, other than thinking it was a nerdy cool idea, when I spied the following article on io9 yesterday from Annalee Newitz.  She basically says everything I wanted to say and more, although I'm really not sold on the term post-Humanity like they are over on that site.  Whatevs.  But there are some cool links to nerdy sci-fi stuff in there, so feel free to poke around.  No...not in THERE!  Sheesh!

(check, check, check...check it out!)

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Note: Remember to play the Badgerdaddy Trivia Challenge every day. Skynet says "Fear me!".

8 comments:

RW said...

A singularity doesn't have to be based on technology.

Take baseball, for example. In the deadball era, as a pitcher, you were expected to pitch nine innings and early on only McGraw and later Stengel platooned righty/lefty at the plate. At some point platooning became the norm and the last time somebody tried to have his starters finish what they start (Billy Martin in Oakland) he was accused of ruining Norris' arm and a few others. But at the time, McGraw and later Stengel were often accused of "over-managing".

A singularity is also referred to as an occurrence immediately previous or near the instant of the big bang. It can also be said that America after the Civil War was a completely different country than it was before the Civil War; the singularity occurring at some point in 1864 or 1865. The quiet dogmas of the past no longer being adequate et al.

I'm waiting for the one where the expanding universe can't expand anymore and all the dark matter starts ripping apart. That would be pretty fuckin cool...

Bruce said...

Way ahead of you on this concept. I blogged about it about 2 years ago ( http://lotus07rant.blogspot.com/2007/01/thousand-possibilities.html ).

I think the singularity is coming, in our lifetime is debatable, but it gets closer every day. My Android Smartphone keeps reminding me of that.

But I think it is going to be elitist at first, which will leave those that don't 'ride the wave' as a lower / second class of citizen.

Water Logged Canine said...

WHERE ARE THE FLYING CARS?!

sybil law said...

I am so not clicking on that link. I've inhaled too many bleach fumes to be reading this shit!!

Slyde said...

i hit my own personal singularity about 4 years ago...

B.E. Earl said...

RW - Yeah, there are all kinds of singularities, but it's the technological/evolutionary one that I'm hankering for. As for baseball, most of the changes have been slow and ponderous. I don't think that there has ever been a momentary singularity in the sport. Deadball to Modern? Maybe. Was Babe Ruth a singularity all to himself? Interesting...

Bruce - Easily my favorite kind of comment. Neener neener...I wrote about this before you did! Guilty of it myself, upon occasion. On your blog I think. ;)

Doggie - Exactly! But maybe after the singularity they won't NEED to fly? Did I just blow your mind? I think I did.

Sybil - It's better on bleach fumes. Makes more sense.

Slyde - And you've turned into an incomprehensible gay boy. It was a long time coming.

Rachel said...

This has nothing to do with your post, but I just read that Human Target got picked up for a 2nd season and I remember you liked the show also.

B.E. Earl said...

Rachel - Holy Crap! That wasn't expected at all! Thanks for the news. :)