Singularity University Hope or hype?

Singularity University Hope or hype?

Medicine, Neuroscience & Human Enhancement

This all sounds wonderful: that is, I wonder if Kurzweil, Diamandis, and Page actually believe that the solutions to poverty, hunger, and pandemics will be found in technology.

Ive been to two of KurzweilsSingularity Summits, including the most recent, in October. I didnt write about it here because I simply didnt see anything worth writing about. Most of the conference wasnt even about the Singularity in any meaningful sense.

The Singularity University Web site identifies these areas of technology for its curriculum:

Its a popular concept in science fiction. Some people believe that this point will eventually be reached in the real world. I think that those people are drastically underestimating the other limits to progress, such as bandwidth limits for data gathering, the difficulty of comprehension, and the inverse relationship of speed to reliability in data analysis.

It seems to me that it would be more useful to take these students and executives through some classes on philosophy, theology, politics, sociology, and history–fields theyre probablynotsufficiently aware of and that are much more directly related to the causes of, and possible cures for, social problems.

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Dubbed Singularity University, its founders hope it will help close the gap in understanding and applying fast-developing technologies to solve what they called humanitys grandest challenges…such as poverty, hunger, and pandemics.

It will be nice if the Singularity University can achieve useful results for society, but I suspect that it will just be a longer, more labored version of the Summit, a painful muddle of science and science fiction identifying no clear path to a future we might not even want.

But while were waiting for God to emerge from machines, some of the people promoting the concept of the Singularity are looking for practical ways to turn technological progress into social progress.

AI, Robotics, & Cognitive Computing

The Singularity is that postulated point in time when technological progress, led by machine intelligences designing their own replacements at an ever-increasing rate, becomes so rapid that we mere humans can no longer comprehend or control it.

Theyre also confusing exponential growth curves (which lead to arbitrarily high growth rates) with S curves, which apply to real-world situations in which growth rates increase for a while as key limits are overcome, then slows again.

Kurzweil, Diamandis, and Page want to help people apply modern technology to solve poverty, hunger, and pandemics, but solutions are more likely to be found in other fields of study.

Thelatest such effortinvolves futurist Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation, and Google co-founder Larry Page. The newSingularity Universityis a school aimed at both students and executives in various technology disciplines.


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