Category Archives: The Singularity

Essay Question

By: Chris KompstCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Imagine that it’s possible to upload any skill you desire directly into your brain (ala The Matrix). If you need to know calculus, you can upload calculus. If you want to know how to snowboard, you upload snowboarding. Skills must be purchased, and more complicated skills cost more (learning to fly a plane costs more than learning to drive a car, for example). Even creative skills (like playing the piano, or painting) can be uploaded.

Particularly as it relates to creative skills, having the skill inserted does NOT automatically imbue you with talent. Assess the effect that such technology would have on contemporary art. Would this technology make art more meaningful, or less? Neither?

Once Again, Without Emotion:

Contributing colleague David U. Schrubbe sends in a link today to a story posted by MSNBC about the work being done on “a package of software and hardware” (read: SkyNet) that will serve as an “ethical governor” for robotic war machines in the field.  The assumption here is that with adequate programming, we will be able to relinquish human control  and LET THE ROBOTS DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES WHOM TO KILL.  For once, I am NOT exaggerating on this point.

The arrogance is staggering, to assume that we will still ultimately be able to control machines to which we grant greater and greater autonomy and logic-processing.

Meanwhile, enjoy this musical interlude, certain to become the Robot Nation’s anthem:

Greatest Hits

Nothing in and of itself particularly bloggable today, but I did run across a few interesting tidbits on the tubes today that you might find interesting in case you missed ’em:

  • I was drawn in by the spectre of New Scientist’s title, “Could the Net Become Self-Aware?” but you should also stay tuned for the rest of their 8-part series.  Interesting stuff…
  • Brett’s gonna come back again.  Oh, yes he will.  But I do think he proved last year that 2007 will gone down as his last great season.
  • Tons of kids staying home from school next week in the metro-Milwaukee area, what with the bacon disease.  Hey, remember when we were kids, and there would be a chicken pox outbreak, and if you hadn’t had it yet, your mom would make sure you went to school, with instructions to lick all doorknobs trade pencils all your itchy friends?  Yeah, I remember that, too.
  • Don’t know if they’ve changed much in Amarok 2 since I was last using it a couple months ago, but I will say this: the album shuffle seems to be doing a better job.  I wonder if there’s anything else I can do to optimize the tags on my tunes..?

OK, well, I’m gonna eat some dinner and get ready for a party that Michelle and I are headed to in a couple hours.  Yes, I know it’s already 8:30.  The party goes until 3 AM.  Seriously.

Quick-Moving Saturday

This day just flew by me before I really realized what had happened.  Ended up being out a little late on Friday after all the baseball excitement, so I got a late start.  Lots to be done around the house, and I also watched a movie that Brian lent to me.  Eagle Eye was OK, but it could have been quite a bit better.  Another interesting take on a Skynet-type problem that wouldn’t actually ever happen.  But like I said, it wasn’t awful.

Did some laundry while I was watching this evening’s Brewers game.  MediaPortal is totally worth the trouble on my TV box if for no other reason than the DVR features– being able to pause the live game while I was running up and down the stairs changing loads was nice.  If there were:

  • a browser extension, in order to use hulu and netflix within MP, and
  • a decent music library included

… it would pretty much rock.  I might try Boxee for Windows to see how that works out.  The thing I would like best is to do all the video watching that I need to on computer, WITH the remote.  Having to plug in a keyboard or mouse is a pain.  Ah well, minor thing.

I would like to sneak in my blog-o-riffic birthday salutations to my mom, right under the wire here ON her birthday, 4/11.  Love you, Mom– hope it was a good day…

If I miss all of ya on Sunday, have a happy Easter.

Growth Will Be Exponential

Astute colleague David G. Schrubbe sent over a link about the first robot to make an autonomous scientific discovery.  A little blurb from the piece on labspaces.net:

Using artificial intelligence, Adam hypothesised that certain genes in baker’s yeast code for specific enzymes which catalyse biochemical reactions in yeast. The robot then devised experiments to test these predictions, ran the experiments using laboratory robotics, interpreted the results and repeated the cycle.

Just to reiterate, the robot did this WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION.