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Encyclopedia > The Singularity Is Near
Cover of the book

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking Penguin, ISBN 0-670-03384-7) is a 2005 update of Raymond Kurzweil's 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines and his 1987 book The Age of Intelligent Machines. In it, as in the two previous versions, Kurzweil attempts to give us a glimpse into what awaits us in the near future. His reasoning rests on the combination of four postulates: Image File history File links Kurzweil_singularity_bookcover. ... Image File history File links Kurzweil_singularity_bookcover. ... Penguin Group is the second largest trade book publisher in the world. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Raymond Kurzweil (pronounced: ) (born February 12, 1948) is a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. ... Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ... ... Year 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays 1987 Gregorian calendar). ... The Age Of Intelligent Machines is the title of an Artificial Intelligence documentary (1987) and book (1990, ISBN 0262111217 / ISBN 0262610795) by futurist Ray Kurzweil; this was his first book and it won the Most Outstanding Computer Science Book of 1990 award by the Association of American Publishers. ...

  1. That a technological-evolutionary point known as "the singularity" exists as an achievable goal for humanity (the exact nature of the point is an arbitrarily high level of technology).
  2. That through a law of accelerating returns, technology is progressing toward the singularity at an exponential rate.
  3. That the functionality of the human brain is quantifiable in terms of technology that we can build in the near future.
  4. That medical advancements could keep a significant number of his generation (Baby Boomers) alive long enough for the exponential growth of technology to intersect and surpass the processing of the human brain.

When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... In mathematics, exponential growth (or geometric growth) occurs when the growth rate of a function is always proportional to the functions current size. ... The human brain is the most complex organ in the human body. ... A baby boom is defined as a period of increased birth rates relative to surrounding generations. ...

Postulates

All four of Kurzweil's primary postulates must be correct in order for his conclusion to be true.

Acceptance and striving for the idea of living forever

Kurzweil asserts that a technological-evolutionary jump known as "the singularity" will be recognized as an achievable goal by humanity. Kurzweil acknowledges that belief in the singularity promotes the paradigm shift necessary for its advancement. By promoting the "truth" of its coming through predictions that seem remarkable at the time but inevitable after the fact (a global computer network, a computer beating the chess champion, etc.), Kurzweil's popular series of books reinforce the belief that a singularity is unavoidable. When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... Paradigm shift is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. ...

The law of accelerating returns

Kurzweil asserts in his Law of Accelerating Returns that technology is progressing toward the Singularity at an exponential rate, relying almost entirely on empirical data. He expands on Moore's Law with models showing that not only the return, but the rate of return is increasing exponentially. But then again, the rate of any exponential quantity is obviously exponential. When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... Moores law is an empirical observation stating, in effect, that at our rate of technological development and advances in the semiconductor industry, the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every 18 months. ...

An objective measurement of cerebral processing power

Kurzweil asserts that the functionality of the brain is quantifiable in terms of technology that we can build in the near future. Kurzweil's earlier books showed cerebral processing power as primarily the number of computations in a square inch multiplied by the area of the brain. In this update, however, he finally acknowledges the possibility of Penrose-Hameroff Microtubule quantum processing (Orch-OR) and states that if his calculations of the processing capability of the brain are off by a factor of a billion, the double-exponential growth of technology will still catch up to it twenty-four years after his original projections. The Orch-OR theory is generally discredited among neuroscientists. In a rebuttal paper at KurzweilAI.net, Hameroff asserts that the quantum processing power required for consciousness is at an order of magnitude greater than what can be expressed through conventional systems of processing measurement - an argument that seems again to ignore Kurzweil's premise that accelerating returns in development of present technologies (as well as the inevitable paradigm shift by advent of another periodically) could ameliorate even such a barrier, a relevant example being more advanced a form of quantum computing capable of full neural emulation, at a scale and with accuracy of computation equivalent to the biological human brain. Sir Roger Penrose, OM, FRS (born 8 August 1931) is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. ... Stuart Hameroff MD is an anesthesiologist known for his collaboration with mathematical physicist Roger Penrose in devloping the Orch OR model of consciousness and quantum mind, proposing a mechanism of quantum coherence occuring within the brains neural microtubules. ... Microtubules are one of the components of the cytoskeleton. ... Orch OR (“Orchestrated Objective Reduction”) is a theory of consciousness put forth in the mid-1990s by British theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff. ... Orch OR (“Orchestrated Objective Reduction”) is a theory of consciousness put forth in the mid-1990s by British theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and American anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff. ... Stuart Hameroff MD is an anesthesiologist known for his collaboration with mathematical physicist Roger Penrose in devloping the Orch OR model of consciousness and quantum mind, proposing a mechanism of quantum coherence occuring within the brains neural microtubules. ...

Sufficient medical advancements

Kurzweil asserts that medical advancements will keep his generation alive long enough for the exponential growth of technology to intersect and surpass the processing of the human brain. Kurzweil explains how nanobots will eventually be able to repair and replace any part of the body that wears out, but relies on other methods of medical technology to prolong our lives long enough to reach the singularity. The usefulness of this medical postulate then becomes a function of how long it will take to reach the singularity, something that has been thrown into question due to the possibility of quantum brain processing in many recent books, such as Roger Penrose's The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe. Nanorobotics is the technology of creating machines or robots at or close to the scale of a nanometre (10-9 metres). ... Sir Roger Penrose, OM, FRS (born 8 August 1931) is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. ... The Road to Reality is a book by the British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose, published in 2004. ...


See also

There are several physical and practical limits to the amount of computation or data storage that can be performed with a given amount of mass, volume, or energy: The Bekenstein Bound limits the amount of information that can be stored within a spherical volume to the entropy of a black... Paradigm shift is the term first used by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe a change in basic assumptions within the ruling theory of science. ... This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling. ... When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... The Last Question is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Law of Accelerating Returns (6430 words)
The Singularity is technological change so rapid and so profound that it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history.
Before considering further the implications of the Singularity, let's examine the wide range of technologies that are subject to the law of accelerating returns.
One of the principal assumptions underlying the expectation of the Singularity is the ability of nonbiological mediums to emulate the richness, subtlety, and depth of human thinking.
The Singularity Is Near - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (540 words)
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Viking Books, ISBN 0-670-03384-7) is a 2005 update of Raymond Kurzweil's 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines and his 1987 book The Age of Intelligent Machines.
That a technological-evolutionary jump known as "the singularity" exists as an achievable goal for humanity.
That through a "law of accelerating returns", technology is progressing toward the singularity at an exponential rate.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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