Monday, January 09, 2006

Singularities and Growth Curves

I am in the middle of reading Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. This book inspired the previous one I mentioned, Accelreando, it is fairly obvious.

The recognition of accererating reurns is certainly the most important concept in the book. As far back as 1996 I began talking in my presentations to electronic document professionals, about how change was coming quickly, but the second derivative, the acceleation of that change was far more important than the speed of change itself. It is a hard concept for people to understand.

Change always seems to be coming too quickly. The very idea that it may be coming ever MORE quickly is frightening to many. Hwever, Kurzweil does an excellent job of explaining how accelerating returns really means that change and evolutionary shift IS occurring at ever increasing paces.

The conclusion he draws, about people merging with their technology to produce a new evolutionary step in the track of humanity is debatable. It is extremely difficult for most to concieve of such radical changes while still having the result be 'human'.

His arguments, however, are very cogent. The nature of humanity is certainly not tied up in our limbs, our physical form, or even our ways of interacting with the world. Is this not precisel what most major religions are teaching? That these physical forms do not matter? In many respects I see the same concepts in Singularity but driven by human mediated forces, not supernatural ones.

That makes a great deal of sense to me. We have, as a species, always attempted to transcend ourselves as they are now. suddenly, Singularity is saying, we are going to be able to do that in ways that will be so self evident as to be undeniable. Which leave me with a thought.

here is a debate going on between Evolutionists and Intelligent Design supporters. The gist of ID's arguemnt is that life as we know it, particularly human life, is so complex it MUST have been designed. It could not have emerged through even billions of years of random change and evolutionary pressure.

I do not agree...I see evolution working all the time and I believe it has sufficiently strong scientific evidence to be completely convincing as the driving architect of what we see.

BUT, if Kurzweil is correct, then perhaps the NEXT thing we see is comlex, human, intelligent life that IS designed by an intelligence...US!

The ID folks may just have the characters in their pasion play mixed up!


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