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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Defining the Singularity

Nicholas Carr specifies the singularity. the term coined in a futurist sense by Vernor Vinge, then popularized by Ray Kurzweil, covered in a recent IEEE special section:

" ... What we talk about when we talk about singularity
The Singularity, that much-anticipated moment, or nano-moment, when our once-tractable silicon servants rocket past us, intellectually speaking, in a blur not unlike the one you see when Scotty activates the Enterprise's warp drive on Star Trek, pausing only (we pray) to allow us to virtualize our mental circuitry and upload it into their capacious memory banks (watch for the 2035 launch of Amazon S4: Simple Soul Storage Service), thus achieving a sort of neutered, brain-in-a-jar immortality, yes, that Singularity, that Rapture of the Geeks, as it is known to snarky unbelievers, is the subject of a big stack of articles - all written by humans, alas, but worth reading nonetheless - in a new special issue of IEEE Spectrum ... "

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read Fantastic Voyage, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near, and they changed my life. I even found some of his lectures on Itunes and I find myself impatiently awaiting his next book.

Recently read another incredible book that I can't recommend highly enough, especially to all of you who also love Ray Kurzweil's work. The book is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. I had heard Dr Taylor's talk on the TED dot com site and I have to say, it changed my world. It's spreading virally all over the internet and the book is now a NYTimes Bestseller, so I'm not the only one, but it is the most amazing talk, and the most impactful book I've read in years. (Dr T also was named to Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People and Oprah had her on her Soul Series last month and I hear they're making a movie about her story so you may already have heard of her)
If you haven't heard Dr Taylor's TEDTalk, that's an absolute must. The book is more and deeper and better, but start with the video (it's 18 minutes). Basically, her story is that she was a 37 yr old Harvard brain scientist who had a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, and thanks to her amazingly loving and kind mother, she eventually fully recovered (and that part of the book detailing how she did it is inspirational).

There's a lot of learning and magic in the book, but the reason I so highly recommend My Stroke of Insight to this discussion, is because we have powerfully intelligent left brains that are rational, logical, sequential and grounded in detail and time, and then we have our kinesthetic right brains, where we experience intuition and peace and euphoria. Now that Kurzweil has got us taking all those vitamins and living our best ""Fantastic Voyage"" , the absolute necessity is that we read My Stroke of Insight and learn from Dr Taylor how to achieve balance between our right and left brains. Enjoy!