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> criticism of the singularity
digfarenough
post Jul 11, 2003, 07:31 PM
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because I'm anxious to see the singularity occur, I feel it's important to criticize it.. I hope others will post concerns here, and if we can eliminate them all then we should be all set smile.gif

the first problem is that there are so many conceptions of the singularity.. instead of dealing with any particular one here I'll try to generalize

it seems that the most common footing for singularity predictions is moore's law, whose exponential curve gives us the misnomer "singularity"

personally, I don't like infinities... my own natural intuition tells me there are no infinities in the universe, so when I see this curve of progress heading toward heaven I think there's a problem with it

from the simplest point of view, it makes sense that technology should be exponential, because we can use each generation's technology to make the next generation's tech, which should keep everything going faster (*points to kurzweil's the age of spiritual machines*)

but I think there are two other possibilities (ok, at least two more but here are two I have slight reason to believe)

the first is that the curve may become linear, because there's always a delay between the introduction of a technology and it's use, which may eventually lead to a saturation.. similarly, eventually so many articles will be published in journals each year that it'll be a full time job to fail to keep up with the newest techniques and results

of course, these same new technologies can be applied to the distribution of knowledge, so perhaps this problem will fix itself

my other reservation is that all these sigmoid curves adding up to an exponential curve doesn't strike me as correct... if we can say that the curve will stay exponential because we assume any problems will be fixed along the way, I think it's just as valid to say that we're really approaching the inflection point on a sigmoid curve, because self-similarity seems to be a popular trait in the universe: why shouldn't sigmoids add up to a sigmoid instead of an exponential?

I've kindly asked mathcad to regress some year vs. mips data to a logistic curve, but alas the results are so sensitive to the guess values that I can't get anything consistent out... maybe I need to use different data

I must conclude by mentioning that neither of these concerns makes the singularity impossible necessarily, they just delay it (which I don't like because I want to be alive for it)
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Donnia
post Nov 02, 2003, 08:18 PM
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I read your post with great interest but there is an however. However, having experienced what Neal calls The Singularity, I can state that once you have experienced The Singularity, you KNOW there is nothing else and no amount of philosophying, analysing or rationalizing can change what is.
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devin
post Nov 11, 2003, 04:14 PM
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What do mean you've experienced the singularity? Its not here yet! Or is this some other definition or the realization that it will come...?

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Unknown
post Jun 30, 2004, 06:50 PM
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a good criticism of the "exponential growth" towards the Singularity, which was touched on above, is illustrated by the following example: Imagine bacteria which are in a nutrient-rich environment increasing their numbers exponentially. Well, does this exponential growth continue onto some singularity? No, because sooner or later, the nutrient-rich environment runs out of nutrients and can no longer support exponential growth. I'm not saying an exponential growth towards the Singularity can't happen, but I am saying that we should be wary about accepting things uncritically, or of extrapolating too much from a "trend". The exponential growth that we see today in tech is a "trend"; it does not imply that it will continue and give rise to a Singularity. We may (or may not) all turn out like the bacteria in the example above. In honesty, I think the excitement of the possibility of a Singularity occuring in the near future clouds a lot of people's rational thinking, for even in our mad rush towards what we perceive to be a Singularity, we must be guided by reason and logic. Else, the Singularity-enthusiasts of tomorrow will become like the Christians of today who are openly ridiculed for their simpleton beliefs and blind faith in a heaven that lies in the future for them.
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