For my quick and dirty summary of the singularity, check out "The Singularity Will Not Be Televised".
Interestingly, Vernor Vinge, the guy who first expounded upon the Singularity, has a new book soon to be out in October, called "Children of the Sky". It is a sequel to his 1991 space opera, "A Fire Upon the Deep".
Let me tell you, if the Singularity is anything like what happens in AFUTD, you really don't want it to happen, because it basically involves a malevolent 5-billion-year-old slightly-more-than-weakly-godlike superintelligence that makes the existential threat of being Bizarro Superman's room-mate seem like a pleasant distraction.
Damn, I really don't have time to do this subject justice today. Charlie's arguments are a scab worth picking at, but I've a tight schedule. As a compleat tangent, I would like to direct your attention to one fine little opining on Charlie's part regarding libertarians, to wit:
"I'm definitely not a libertarian: economic libertarianism is based on the same reductionist view of human beings as rational economic actors as 19th century classical economics — a drastic over-simplification of human behaviour. Like Communism, Libertarianism is a superficially comprehensive theory of human behaviour that is based on flawed axioms and, if acted upon, would result in either failure or a hellishly unpleasant state of post-industrial feudalism."Ah, good old Charlie. (Old? He's nearly a decade younger than I).
What is funny is that later in the comments, as if having the Singulitarians wail and gnash their teeth that One Whom They Assumed Was A True Believer points out flaws in their Vision Quest were not enough, some dopey anonymous libertard tries to make him see reason, vis:
"You claim, quite incorrectly that you are not a libertarian because "is based on the same reductionist view of human beings as rational economic actors as 19th century classical economics" and that "is a superficially comprehensive theory of human (sic) behaviour that is based on flawed axioms..." Wow, these statements are riddled with so much non-fact, I had to respond. I'll do my best in a couple minutes to bring a light on the subject".Oh, God, fucking spare me right now by putting a gun in my mouth, rather than listen to another load of butt froth poorly disguised as a reasonable argument. Charlie is more succinct:
"You're telling me you have greater insight into my internal mental state than I have?Excellent. Although I do need to throw this in as a rejoinder. Anonymous libertard opines:
"Austrian economics, and Hayek in particular, argues quite the opposite of what you stated about economics (and right along side you that the singularity-uploading of consciousnesses is a myth); that it is impossible to concentrate enough knowledge to engineer a top down economy."Really? I'm sure every fucking CEO of every fucking corporation in the world - every single one of them a miniature small top down hierarchical command economy - will be thrilled to know that Mssrs. Mises, Hayek, et al. has determined that they cannot possibly run their company. At any rate...
Basically, the counterarguments, more like irritated noises, within the comments typically invoke either Moore's Law, or just a great deal of hand-waving. Basically, the argument is a reliance upon trending. Technological trends envision a future where silicon intelligence is possible that rivals or exceeds meat intelligence.
I would point out the weakness of the trending argument. Consider our own history. Fossil evidence deems it highly probable that we were bipedal apes long before we were big-brained hominids. And look at what happened. Here you had a nice spine, well adapted as a horizontal suspension bridge for hanging muscle and gut off it in a foot and knuckle gait, suddenly - and chronically painfully - modified to an upright stature. Further, you take a nice wide pelvis, and pitch it forward and narrow it to get the hip joints directly under for a solid bipedal gait. And as a result, you end up narrowing the birth canal gap from the copious and roomy pre-human pelvis to the now dangerously smaller gap of the bidpedal ape.
Trending suggests that you end up with smaller headed bipedal apes - you make baby heads smaller to accomodate the narrower birth canal. Trending does not suggest a highly dangerous birthing with a big giant fucking baby head, or for that matter, a premature fetal ape living and developing outside the womb.
So, yeah, with that and about three hundred billion other examples I could write up, fuck the trending argument.
Charlie's argument is basically that the only form of intelligence we would be interested is based upon the human template, which in turn is a evolutionary result of plains ape technology, itself probably not well adapted to inhabiting cyberspace. All well and good. There is more than one kind of intelligence on this planet - social insects, crows, dolphins, whales, to name the obvious.
I agree with him that I think it (developing an AI based upon a human template) is not the most promising route to produce a superhuman intelligence that bootstraps us all into Info-Valhalla. On the other hand, with the expansion of the frontoparietal circuitry in modern brains, we do have that very interesting new ability - or rather, an enhanced existing ability - of seemlessly incorporating the artifacts we fabricate into our sense of self. Our brains have that amazing plastic ability to make our tools extensions of our bodies. In fact, I suspect that this ability points towards an even more interesting plasticity involved in shamanism - the imagining, the simulation, the ability to become other animals and other beings.
Suffice to say, if the superhumans do show up, they will be enhanced humans.
Likely? Maybe, but again I would avoid a trending argument to back this up. And my cynical optimism - emphasis on the cynical - prods me to hope it doesn't come to pass.
And unfortunately, this is as far as I can take this discussion for now.