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Posts Tagged ‘The Singularity is Near

Watson? What do you imagine?

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Albert Einstein Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921. (1879-1955)

So. The supercomputer Watson “shellacked” a couple of human beings in Jeopardy. Not just any human beings – Watson shellacked a couple of champion Jeopardy players – Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Maybe Watson is on the way to the Singularity (read) but it has a far way to go.  They say knowledge is power.  That may be true.  But real power, as Einstein points out, is imagination.

You can only get so far with a collection of facts – Watson has a store of 14 terabytes of reference data and 2,880 processors to pick though all that reference data to find the particular fact that it needs in response to a particular question that it is asked.  You can only get so far with simple deductive inference, if Watson is capable of that  –  “All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal.”  Didn’t you already know that?  Wasn’t that “new” fact liberated by the slight of hand of syllogistic exegesis already embedded in the knowledge store you already had?  So what’s new?  Nothing.

aspiration, imagination, and passion

Having your hands on all the facts and simple logic is not the key that creates the future.  What is going to get you someplace is imagination.  There have been three killer collective attributes that differentiated man from machine and differentiated individuals from each other throughout history: aspiration, imagination, and passion.

These are truly the differentiators of individuals.  Have you every encountered people where “nothing ever occurs to them”?  They have no ideas.  Can’t think of a better way to do things?  Can’t come up with a vision of the future that is not an endless replication of the present?  My take is that this inability to have an imagination is an artifact of the spectacular success of the Industrial Age mindset epitomized by the famous quote of Henry Ford: “Why, when I ask for a pair of hands, does a brain come attached?” 

Those born digital – those born in the post industrial age – do not harbor this legacy.  And that’s not all

What is new in the globally connected digital age is networks of intellectual capital.  What happens when aspiration, imagination and passion meet in nearly frictionless global collaboration among like-minded people?

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Written by frrl

February 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

The Singularity is Near: IBM takes on the Jeopardy Challenge

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While you are watching the video read this…

In 2005 Ray Kurzweil wrote a book called: The Singularity is Near

Here are the four basic postulates of the book:

  1. A technological-evolutionary point known as “the singularity” exists as an achievable goal for humanity.
  2. Through a law of accelerating returns, technology is progressing toward the singularity at an exponential rate.
  3. The functionality of the human brain is quantifiable in terms of technology that we can build in the near future.
  4. Medical advancements make it possible for a significant number of his generation (Baby Boomers) to live long enough for the exponential growth of technology to intersect and surpass the processing of the human brain

Kurzweil predicts the Singularity will occur around about 2045

At this point …

  1. $1000 buys a computer a billion times more powerful than the human brain. This means that average and even low-end computers are hugely smarter than even highly intelligent, unenhanced humans.
  2. The Singularity occurs as artificial intelligences surpass human beings as the smartest and most capable life forms on the Earth. Technological development is taken over by the machines, who can think, act and communicate so quickly that normal humans cannot even comprehend what is going on; thus the machines, acting in concert with those humans who have evolved into postbiological cyborgs, achieve effective world domination. The machines enter into a “runaway reaction” of self-improvement cycles, with each new generation of A.I.s appearing faster and faster. From this point onwards, technological advancement is explosive, under the control of the machines, and thus cannot be accurately predicted.
  3. The Singularity is an extremely disruptive, world-altering event that forever changes the course of human history. The extermination of humanity by violent machines is unlikely (though not impossible) because sharp distinctions between man and machine will no longer exist thanks to the existence of cybernetically enhanced humans and uploaded humans.

So, how are we progressing toward the Singularity?  Enjoy the video and the related links below…

From the IBM web site cited below…

A computer system that can directly and precisely answer natural language questions over an open and broad range of knowledge has been envisioned by scientists and writers since the advent of computers themselves. Consider, for example, the “Computer” in Star Trek. Taken to its ultimate form, broad and accurate open-domain question answering may well represent a crowning achievement for the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

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Written by frrl

February 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

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