April 20, 2014

Paul Allen disagrees with Ray Kurzweil


The evolution of The Singularity likely will look like the primordial ooze

I was just reading an article by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, where he argues that The Singularity is not near and details out many of the different theories.

He describes in detail the different theories as to how it will emerge.   He says:

“Building the complex software that would allow the singularity to happen requires us to first have a detailed scientific understanding of how the human brain works that we can use as an architectural guide, or else create it all de novo.”

Viewing the emergence of The Singularity, this de novo approach makes more sense to me.

First, what if we don’t even see it coming?  Seriously,  is our seeing/predicting it even a requirement for it to come into being in the first place?

Really,  when you think about it, isn’t is a bit prideful to think that we humans are, or will be, in control of evolution?  (Note…I am not suggesting that Paul was being prideful but rather us humans as a whole.)

Was it a requirement in the primordial ooze for one step in the evolutionary process to fully understand how the next would emerge in order for it to do so?  No.   So why would we believe that just because we happen to be the highest level of intelligence on the planet now, that we humans would be entitled to disrupt the natural path that evolution has used for years.

Would it be possible for The Singularity to come into being with out us even knowing, or being able to spectate as it happened?   Maybe yes.

Paul also discusses the AI “Watson” model.  Again, in this model, one specific piece of software has been built and refined to attain a certain level of AI.   I doubt that The Singularity will come about in this manner.  I agree as he notes, deep domain knowledge is very “brittle” and does not transfer well to other areas.  Yes,  Watson could play a “part” in the Singularity,  but likely not “be” the Singularity.

Packing horsepower behind IBM’S massive server stack is no doubt impressive,  but maybe The Singularity will arise from a more abstract fashion through such as the culmination of little pieces making one.  Perhaps little scripts here and there, sprinkled around the internet.   In the same way that in the primordial ooze chemicals would encounter other useful chemicals and join together, as time moves on and coders move, modify, ad too, and merge scripts, the scripts and information would evolve and create new and different functionalities.

It is not to hard to imagine a script being written that was similar to a search engine but given the parameters to protect itself.  In this scenario, this “script spider” would be given access to the net again with parameters to seek out, measure ascertain whether other bits of scripts and functionalities that they perform could be of future use to it.  If within the algorithm the bit of script was seen as potentially useful for the future,  it was logged and stored.   As it crawls around,  again with the sole purpose of self preservation, it begins to log these functionalities and continues to build it’s “self preservation” directives.

Sure,  this idea is easier to “type” than to create, but it is for illustration purposes.   The point is to think about other possible ways that The Singularity could emerge.

I certainly believe that The Singularity will emerge.  I  doubt that any one company/technology will have a “majority” role in it’s creation.  (Except for the military who clearly writes “protection” algorithms.)

To me,  we are all creating The Singularity as we create and swim in this primordial ooze of data through what we type, speak, record, script, and digitize.

Time to go take a bath, I’ve been swimming in too much data..