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Singularity Introduction :: Michael Anissimov

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#1 Bruce Klein

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Posted 25 August 2002 - 05:50 AM

On To The "Singularity"
By Michael Anissimov

May 2002

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I asked Mr. Anissimov to help me understand the Singularity by answering a few fundamental questions. He generously accepted the challenge.

BJKlein: "Singularity" What is it?
Michael Anissimov: The technological creation of an entity with massively-greater-than-human capability for self-improvement which creates a sudden, unexpected "spike" in the graph of technological, spiritual, intellectual, and moral progress. This entity could be a network of intelligent agents, the end result of an extensive evolutionary algorithm, a cybernetic or genetically enhanced human being, or a Friendly Seed AI. The last one appears to be closest to us in the flow of technological advances, and also seems the one we could be most sure of the moral behavior of.

BJK: Why should we care?
MA: With the threats of nuclear and nanotechnological warfare on the horizon, and the emergence of machine intelligence becoming increasingly more imminent, many people are turning to the idea that constructing a moral AI *first* is a major priority. Human problems have been around forever, and technology has only helped a little bit so far. But with the application of superintelligence and ultratechnology, many human problems as we know them could be solved, such as death or boredom.

BJK: When will it happen?
MA: Most of the prediction dates for the Singularity fall between 2050 and 2010, with the lower 20 year range being substantially more common. If you use a search engine, you can discover two simple facts. First, the human brain performs a finite number of operations to create consciousness, intelligence and creativity. Two, Moore's Law is steadily continuing and even accelerating, and shows no sign of slowing down. When available computing power starts to approach a substantial percentage of that in a human brain, we will have the hardware requirements for AI. From then on, it's only a matter of programming, and steady advances in AI theory, neuroscience, and cognitive science are only getting closer and closer to breaking down the functional aspects of consciousness as the 00s continue along.

BJK: What can we do to prepare?
MA: We can spend our time thinking and writing about the idea of the Singularity, Friendly AI, and help others become more aware of advanced futurist ideas in general. Of course, for the strongest impact you can always contribute to organizations furthering the Singularity, such as SIAI, WTA, or Imminst.org

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