Ray Kurzweil - The Singularity Is Near_ When Humans Transcend Biology-Viking Adult - 2005 ![rw-book-cover](https://readwise-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/static/images/default-book-icon-8.18caceaece2b.png) ## Metadata - Author: [[2005]] - Full Title: Ray Kurzweil - The Singularity Is Near_ When Humans Transcend Biology-Viking Adult - Category: #books ## Highlights - For example, nanotechnology-based manufacturing devices in the 2020s will be capable of creating almost any physical product from inexpensive raw materials and information (Page 28) - Interestingly, however, the event horizon (surface) of a black hole is of J finite size, and gravitational force is only theoretically infinite at the zero-size center of the black hole. At any location that could actually be measured, the forces are finite, although extremely large. (Page 34) - We will have the requisite hardware to emulate human intelligence with supercomputers by the end of this decade and with personal-computer-size devices by the end of the following decade. We will have effective software models of human intelligence by the mid-2020s. (Page 35) - With both the hardware and software needed to fully emulate human intelligence, we can expect computers to pass the Turing test, indicating intelligence indistinguishable from that of biological humans, by the end of the 2020s.30 • When they achieve this level of development (Page 35) - With both the hardware and software needed to fully emulate human intelligence, we can expect computers to pass the Turing test (Page 35) - With both the hardware and software needed to fully emulate human intelligence, we can expect computers to pass the Turing test, indicating intelligence indistinguishable from that of biological humans, by the end of the 2020s (Page 35) - The human ability to understand and respond appropriately to emotion (so-called emotional intelligence) is one of the forms of human intelligence that will be understood and mastered by future machine intelligence. Some of our emotional responses are tuned to optimize our intelligence in the context of our limited and frail biological bodies. Future machine intelligence will also have "bodies" (for example, virtual bodies in virtual reality, or projections in real reality using foglets) in order to interact with the world, but these nanoengineered bodies will be far more capable and durable than biological human bodies. Thus, some of the "emotional" responses of future machine intelligence will be redesigned to reflect their vastly enhanced physical capabilities (Page 37) - That's just how Ted Kaczynski puts it: we're going to become pets. That's our destiny, to become contented pets but certainly not free men. (Page 40) - The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.—WINSTON CHURCHILL (Page 42) - The further backward you look, the further forward you can see.—WINSTON CHURCHILL Two billion years ago, our ancestors were microbes; a half-billion years ago, fish; a hundred million years ago, something like mice; ten million years ago, arboreal apes; and a million years ago, proto-humans puzzling out the taming of fire. Our evolutionary lineage is marked by mastery of change. In our time, the pace is quickening.—CARL SAGAN Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems beyond that are not ours to solve....[T]here are no hard problems, only problems that are hard to a certain level of intelligence. Move the smallest bit upwards [in level of intelligence], and some problems will suddenly move from "impossible" to "obvious. " Move a substantial degree upwards, and all of them will become obvious.—ELIEZER S.YUDNOWSKY, STARING INTO THE SINGULARITY, 1996 "The future can't be predicted" is a common refrain.... But ... when [this perspective] is wrong, it is profoundly wrong.—JOHN SMART1 The ongoing acceleration of technology is the implication and inevitable result of what I call the law of accelerating returns, which describes the acceleration of the pace of and the exponential growth of the products of an evolutionary process. These products include, in particular, informationbearing technologies such as computation, and their acceleration extends substantially beyond the predictions made by what has become known as Moore's Law. The Singularity is the inexorable result of the law of accelerating returns, so it is important that we examine the nature of this evolutionary process. The Nature of Order. The previous chapter featured several graphs demonstrating the acceleration of paradigm shift.(Paradigm shifts are major changes in methods and intellectual processes to accomplish tasks; examples include written language and the computer. ) The graphs plotted what fifteen thinkers and reference works regarded as the key events in biological and technological evolution from the Big Bang to the Internet. We see some expected variation, but an unmistakable exponential trend: key events have been occurring at an ever-hastening pace. The criteria for what constituted "key events" varied from one thinker's list to another. But it's worth considering the principles they used in making their selections. Some observers have judged that the truly (Page 42) - The further backward you look, the further forward you can see. (Page 42) - So where in the technology life cycle is the book? Among its precursors were Mesopotamian clay tablets and Egyptian papyrus scrolls. In the second century B.C., the Ptolemies of Egypt created a great library of scrolls at Alexandria and outlawed the export of papyrus to discourage competition. What were perhaps the first books were created by Eumenes II, ruler of ancient Greek Perganum, using pages of vellum made from the skins of goats and sheep, which were sewn together between wooden covers. This technique enabled Eumenes to compile a library equal to that of Alexandria (Page 53) - This portion, imaged by the fovea in the retina, is focused on an area about the size of a single word at twenty-two inches away. Outside of the fovea, we have very little resolution but exquisite sensitivity to changes in brightness, an ability that allowed our primate forebears to quickly detect a predator that might be attacking. The constant flicker of a video graphics array (VGA) computer screen is detected by our eyes as motion and causes constant movement of the fovea. This substantially slows down reading speeds. which is one reason that reading on a screen is less pleasant than reading a printed book. This particular issue has been solved with flat-panel displays, which do not flicker. Other crucial issues include contrast—a good-quality book has an ink-to-paper contrast of about 120:1; typical screens are perhaps half of that—and resolution. Print and illustrations in a book represent a resolution of about 600 to 1000 dots per inch (dpi), while computer screens are about one tenth of that. The size and weight of computerized devices are approaching those of books, but the devices are still heavier than a paperback book. Paper books also do not run out of battery power. Most important, there is the matter of the available software, by which I mean the enormous installed base of printed books. Fifty thousand new print books are published each year in the United States, and millions of books are already in circulation. There are major efforts under way to scan and digitize print materials, but it will be a long time before the electronic databases have a comparable wealth of material. The biggest obstacle here is the understandable hesitation of publishers to make the electronic versions of their books available, given the devastating effect that illegal file sharing has had on the music-recording industry. Solutions are emerging to each of these limitations. New, inexpensive display technologies have contrast, resolution, lack of flicker, and viewing and comparable to high-quality paper documents. Fuel-cell power for portable electronics is being introduced, which will keep electronic devices powered for hundreds of hours between fuel-cartridge changes. Portable electronic devices are already comparable to the size and weight of a book. The primary issue is going to be finding secure means of making electronic information available. This is a fundamental concern for every level of our economy (Page 54) - The human brain uses a very inefficient electrochemical, digital-controlled analog computational process. The bulk of its calculations are carried out in the interneuronal connections at a speed of only about two hundred calculations per second (in each connection), which is at least one million times slower than contemporary electronic circuits. But the brain gains its prodigious powers from its extremely parallel organization in three dimensions (Page 62) - This, indeed, is a basic difference between the "analytical" approach associated with traditional mathematics, including differential equations, and the "computational" approach associated with algorithms. You can predict a future state of a system susceptible to the analytic approach without figuring out what states it will occupy between now and then, but in the case of many cellular automata, you must go through all the intermediate states to find out what the end will be like: there is no way to know the future except to watch it unfold (Page 68) ## New highlights added May 19, 2022 at 6:59 AM - As Sun Tzu pointed out, "knowledge is power," and another ramification of the law of accelerating returns is the exponential growth of human knowledge, including intellectual property (Page 79) - Self-assembly allows improperly formed components to be discarded automatically and makes it possible for the potentially trillions of circuit components to organize themselves, rather than be painstakingly assembled in a top-down process. It would enable large-scale circuits to be created in test tubes rather than in multibillion-dollar factories (Page 85) - Self-assembly allows improperly formed components to be discarded automatically and makes it possible for the potentially trillions of circuit components to organize themselves, rather than be painstakingly assembled in a top-down process (Page 85) - There's a limitation, however, to DNA computing: each of the many trillions of computers has to perform the same operation at the same time (although on different data), so that the device is a "single instruction multiple data" (SIMD) architecture (Page 86) - The exciting property of spintronics is that no energy is required to change an electron's spin state. Stanford University physics professor Shoucheng Zhang and University of Tokyo professor Naoto Nagaosa put it this way: "We have discovered the equivalent of a new 'Ohm's Law' [the electronics law that states that current in a wire equals voltage divided by resistance]....[It] says that the spin of the electron can be transported without any loss of energy, or dissipation. Furthermore, this effect occurs at room temperature in materials already widely used in the semiconductor industry, such as gallium arsenide. That's important because it could enable a new generation of computing devices (Page 87) - SIMD technologies such as DNA computers and optical computers will have important specialized roles to play in the future of computation. The replication of certain aspects of the functionality of the human brain, such as processing sensory data, can use SIMD architectures. For other brain regions, such as those dealing with learning and reasoning, general-purpose computing with its "multiple instruction multiple data" (MIMD) architectures will be required. For high-performance MIMD computing, we will need to apply the three-dimensional molecular-computing paradigms described above. (Page 88) - For these reasons, it is reasonable to expect human brain capacity, at least in terms of hardware computational capacity, for one thousand dollars by around 2020. (Page 91) - Currently at least 99 percent, if not 99.9 percent, of the computational capacity of all the computers on the Internet lies unused (Page 91) - Rather than using general-purpose processors, one can use application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) to provide greater price-performance for very repetitive calculations (Page 91) - If, on the other hand, we don't erase each bit of information contained in the input to each step of an algorithm but instead just move it to another location, that bit stays in the computer, is not released into the environment, and therefore generates no heat and requires no energy from outside the computer. Rolf Landauer showed in 1961 that reversible logical operations such as NOT (turning a bit into its opposite) could be performed without putting energy in or taking heat out, but that irreversible logical operations such as AND (generating bit C, which is a 1 if and only if both inputs A and Bare 1) do require energy.48 In 1973 Charles Bennett showed that any computation could be performed using only reversible logical operations.49 A decade later, Ed Fredkin and Tommaso Toffoli presented a comprehensive review of the idea of reversible computing.50 The fundamental concept is that if you keep all the intermediate results and then run the algorithm backward when you've finished your calculation, you end up where you started, have used no energy, and generated no heat. Along the way, however, you've calculated the result of the algorithm (Page 94) - We've already shown that atoms can store information at a density of greater than one bit per atom, such as in computing systems built from nuclear magnetic-resonance devices. University of Oklahoma researchers stored 1,024 bits in the magnetic interactions of the protons of a single molecule containing nineteen hydrogen atoms.51 Thus, the state of the rock at anyone moment represents at least 1027 bits of memory. In terms of computation, and just considering the electromagnetic interactions, there are at least 1015 changes in state per bit per second going on inside a 2.2-pound rock (Page 94) - The purpose of these comparisons is to assess just how far biological evolution has been able to go from systems with essentially no intelligence (that is, an ordinary rock, which performs no useful computation) to the ultimate ability of matter to perform purposeful computation (Page 98) - Examining radioactive isotopes left over from the reactor and comparing them to isotopes from similar nuclear reactions today, they determined that the physics constant alpha (also called the fine-structure constant), which determines the strength of the electromagnetic force, apparently has changed over two billion years. This is of great significance to the world of physics, because the speed of light is inversely proportional to alpha, and both have been considered unchangeable constants. Alpha appears to have decreased by 4.5 parts out of 108. If confirmed, this would imply that the speed of light has increased (Page 100) - Scientific advances are enabled by a technology advance that allows us to see what we have not been able to see before. At about the turn of the twenty-first century, we passed a detectable turning point in both neuroscience (Page 103) - Scientific advances are enabled by a technology advance that allows us to see what we have not been able to see before (Page 103) - The brain is bad: it is an evolved, messy system where a lot of interactions happen because of evolutionary contingencies. ... On the other hand, it must also be robust (since we can survive with it) and be able to stand fairly major variations and environmental insults, so the truly valuable insight from the brain might be how to create resilient complex systems that self-organize well.... (Page 103) - A key advantage of nonbiological intelligence is that machines can easily share their knowledge. If you learn French or read War and Peace, you can't readily download that learning to me, as I have to acquire that scholarship the same painstaking way that you did. (Page 105) - will apply the thousands of trillions of bytes of information derived from brain scans and neural models at many levels to design more intelligent parallel algorithms for our machines, particularly those based on self-organizing paradigms (Page 105) - will apply the thousands of trillions of bytes of information derived from brain scans and neural models at many levels to design more intelligent parallel algorithms for our machines, particularly those based on self-organizing paradigms (Page 105) - expect that to change; patent applications have already been filed based on brain reverse engineering.)7 We will apply the thousands of trillions of bytes of information derived from brain scans and neural models at many levels to design more intelligent parallel algorithms for our machines, particularly those based on self-organizing paradigms (Page 105) - We will apply the thousands of trillions of bytes of information derived from brain scans and neural models at many levels to design more intelligent parallel algorithms for our machines, particularly those based on self-organizing paradigms (Page 105) - Despite their clever and intricate design, ant and termite hills have no master architects; the architecture emerges from the unpredictable interactions of all the colony members, each following relatively simple (Page 109) - Despite their clever and intricate design, ant and termite hills have no master architects; the architecture emerges from the unpredictable interactions of all the colony members, each following relatively simple rules (Page 109) - Who will be man's successor? To which the answer is: We are ourselves creating our own successors. Man will become to the machine what the horse and the dog are to man; the conclusion being that machines are, or are becoming, animate.—SAMUEL BUTLER, 1863 LETTER, "DARWIN AMONG THE MACHINES (Page 142) - addition, when I was twenty-two, my father died of heart disease at the age of fifty-eight, and I have inherited his genes predisposing me to this illness. Twenty years ago, despite (Page 145) - addition, when I was twenty-two, my father died of heart disease at the age of fifty-eight, and I have inherited his genes predisposing me to this illness. Twenty years ago, despite following the public guidelines of the American Heart Association, my cholesterol was in the high 200s (Page 145) - In addition, when I was twenty-two, my father died of heart disease at the age of fifty-eight, and I have inherited his genes predisposing me to this illness. Twenty years ago, despite (Page 145) - In addition, when I was twenty-two, my father died of heart disease at the age of fifty-eight, and I have inherited his genes predisposing me to this illness. Twenty years ago, despite following the public guidelines of the American Heart Association, my cholesterol was in the high 200s (Page 145) - Somatic Gene Therapy (gene therapy for nonreproductive cells). This is the holy grail of bioengineering, which will enable us to effectively change genes inside the nucleus by "infecting" it with new DNA, essentially creating new genes (Page 148) - Cell Therapies. Another important line of attack is to regrow our own cells, tissues, and even whole organs and introduce them into our bodies without surgery (Page 148) - All responsible ethicists, including myself, consider human cloning at the present time to be unethical. The reasons, however, for me have little to do with the slippery-slope issues of manipulating human life. Rather, the technology today simply does not yet work reliably. The current technique of fusing a cell nucleus from a donor to an egg cell using an electric spark simply causes a high level of genetic errors.57 This is the primary reason that most of the fetuses created by this method do not make it to term. Even those that do make it have genetic defects. Dolly the Sheep developed an obesity problem in adulthood, and the majority of cloned animals produced thus far have had unpredictable health problems.58 Scientists have a number of ideas for perfecting cloning, including alternative ways of fusing the nucleus and egg cell without use of a destructive electrical spark, but until the technology is demonstrably safe, it would be unethical to create a human life with such a high likelihood of severe health problems (Page 152) - If you need pancreatic islet cells or kidney tissues—or even a whole new heart—to avoid autoimmune reactions, you would strongly prefer to obtain these with your own DNA rather than the DNA from someone else's germ-line cells. In addition, this approach uses plentiful skin cells (of the patient) rather than rare and precious stem cells. Transdifferentiation will directly grow an organ with your genetic makeup. Perhaps most important, the new organ can have its telomeres fully extended to their original youthful length, so that the new organ is effectively young again (Page 153) - . However, as Drexler points out, a nanoscale assembler does not necessarily have to be selfreplicating.76 Given the inherent dangers in self-replication, the ethical standards proposed by the Foresight Institute (a think tank founded by Eric Drexler and Christine Peterson) contain prohibitions against unrestricted self-replication, especially in a natural environment (Page 157) - Nature shows that molecules can serve as machines because living things work by means of such machinery. Enzymes are molecular machines that make, break, and rearrange the bonds holding other molecules together. Muscles are driven by molecular machines that haul fibers past one another. DNA serves as a data-storage system, transmitting digital instructions to molecular machines, the ribosomes, that manufacture protein molecules. And these protein molecules, in turn, make up most of the (Page 159) - Nature shows that molecules can serve as machines because living things work by means of such machinery. Enzymes are molecular machines that make, break, and rearrange the bonds holding other molecules together. Muscles are driven by molecular machines that haul fibers past one another. DNA serves as a data-storage system, transmitting digital instructions to molecular machines, the ribosomes, that manufacture protein molecules. And these protein molecules, in turn, make up most of the molecular machinery. —ERIC DREXLER (Page 159) - the local data storage of a nanoengineered robot to only a small part of the assembly code (using the "broadcast" architecture), particularly when doing selfreplication, is one critical way nanotechnology can be engineered to be safer than (Page 159) - Life does not use centralized data storage but provides the entire code to every cell. The ability to restrict the local data storage of a nanoengineered robot to only a small part of the assembly code (using the "broadcast" architecture), particularly when doing selfreplication, is one critical way nanotechnology can be engineered to be safer than biology (Page 159)