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Singularities And Nightmares

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  • Light Eye
    Dear Friends, This is long so I m only posting an excerpt. Click the link to read the whole article.
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 30, 2006
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      Dear Friends,

      This is long so I'm only posting an excerpt. Click the link to read the whole article.

      http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=memelist.html?m=1%23656

      Love and Light.

      David

      Singularities and Nightmares
      by David Brin

      Options for a coming singularity include self-destruction of civilization, a positive singularity, a negative singularity (machines take over), and retreat into tradition. Our urgent goal: find (and avoid) failure modes, using anticipation (thought experiments) and resiliency -- establishing robust systems that can deal with almost any problem as it arises.

      Originally published in Nanotechnology Perceptions: A Review of Ultraprecision Engineering and Nanotechnology, Volume 2, No. 1, March 27 2006.1 Reprinted with permission on KurzweilAI.net March 28, 2006.

      In order to give you pleasant dreams tonight, let me offer a few possibilities about the days that lie ahead—changes that may occur within the next twenty or so years, roughly a single human generation. Possibilities that are taken seriously by some of today's best minds. Potential transformations of human life on Earth and, perhaps, even what it means to be human.


      For example, what if biologists and organic chemists manage to do to their laboratories the same thing that cyberneticists did to computers? Shrinking their vast biochemical labs from building-sized behemoths down to units that are utterly compact, making them smaller, cheaper, and more powerful than anyone imagined. Isn't that what happened to those gigantic computers of yesteryear? Until, today, your pocket cell phone contains as much processing power and sophistication as NASA owned during the moon shots. People who foresaw this change were able to ride this technological wave. Some of them made a lot of money.


      Biologists have come a long way already toward achieving a similar transformation. Take, for example, the Human Genome Project, which sped up the sequencing of DNA by so many orders of magnitude that much of it is now automated and miniaturized. Speed has skyrocketed, while prices plummet, promising that each of us may soon be able to have our own genetic mappings done, while-U-wait, for the same price as a simple EKG. Imagine extending this trend, by simple extrapolation, compressing a complete biochemical laboratory the size of a house down to something that fits cheaply on your desktop. A MolecuMac, if you will. The possibilities are both marvelous and frightening.

      When designer drugs and therapies are swiftly modifiable by skilled medical workers, we all should benefit.


      But then, won't there also be the biochemical equivalent of "hackers"? What are we going to do when kids all over the world can analyze and synthesize any organic compound, at will? In that event, we had better hope for accompanying advances in artificial intelligence and robotics... at least to serve our fast food burgers. I'm not about to eat at any restaurant that hires resentful human adolescents, who swap fancy recipes for their home molecular synthesizers over the Internet. Would you?


      Now don't get me wrong. If we ever do have MolecuMacs on our desktops, I'll wager that 99 percent of the products will be neutral or profoundly positive, just like most of the software creativity flowing from young innovators today. But if we're already worried about a malicious one percent in the world of bits and bytes—hackers and cyber-saboteurs—then what happens when this kind of 'creativity' moves to the very stuff of life itself? Nor have we mentioned the possibility of intentional abuse by larger entities—terror cabals, scheming dictatorships, or rogue corporations.


      These fears start to get even more worrisome when we ponder the next stage, beyond biotech. Deep concerns are already circulating about what will happen when nanotechnology—ultra-small machines building products atom-by-atom to precise specifications—finally hits its stride. Molecular manufacturing could result in super-efficient factories that create wealth at staggering rates of efficiency. Nano-maintenance systems may enter your bloodstream to cure disease or fine-tune bodily functions. Visionaries foresee this technology helping to save the planet from earlier human errors, for instance by catalyzing the recycling of obstinate pollutants. Those desktop units eventually may become universal fabricators that turn almost any raw material into almost any product you might desire...


      ... or else (some worry), nanomachines might break loose to become the ultimate pollution. A self-replicating disease, gobbling everything in sight, conceivably turning the world's surface into gray goo.2


      Others have raised this issue before, some of them in very colorful ways. Take the sensationalist novel Prey, by Michael Crichton, which portrays a secretive agency hubristically pushing an arrogant new technology, heedless of possible drawbacks or consequences. Crichton's typical worried scenario about nanotechnology follows a pattern nearly identical to his earlier thrillers about unleashed dinosaurs, robots, and dozens of other techie perils, all of them viewed with reflexive suspicious loathing. (Of course, in every situation, the perilous excess happens to result from secrecy, a topic that we will return to, later.) A much earlier and better novel, Blood Music, by Greg Bear, presented the up and downside possibilities of nanotech with profound vividness.

      Especially the possibility that most worries even optimists within the nanotechnology community—that the pace of innovation may outstrip our ability to cope.


      Now, at one level, this is an ancient fear. If you want to pick a single cliché that is nearly universally held, across all our surface boundaries of ideology and belief—e.g. left-versus-right, or even religious-vs-secular—the most common of all would probably be:


      "Isn't it a shame that our wisdom has not kept pace with technology?"


      While this cliché is clearly true at the level of solitary human beings, and even mass-entities like corporations, agencies or political parties, I could argue that things aren't anywhere near as clear at the higher level of human civilization.

      Elsewhere I have suggested that "wisdom" needs to be defined according to outcomes and processes, not the perception or sagacity of any particular individual guru or sage. Take the outcome of the Cold War… the first known example of humanity acquiring a means of massive violence, and then mostly turning away from that precipice. Yes, that means of self-destruction is still with us. But two generations of unprecedented restraint suggest that we have made a little progress in at least one kind of "wisdom." That is, when the means of destruction are controlled by a few narrowly selected elite officials on both sides of a simple divide.


      But are we ready for a new era, when the dilemmas are nowhere near as simple? In times to come, the worst dangers to civilization may not come from clearly identifiable and accountable adversaries—who want to win an explicit, set-piece competition—as much as from a general democratization of the means to do harm. New technologies, distributed by the Internet and effectuated by cheaply affordable tools, will offer increasing numbers of angry people access to modalities of destructive power--means that will be used because of justified grievance, avarice, indignant anger, or simply because they are there.


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jahnets
      There is something I don t think that I ve heard anyone else mention. For this western society where many are some form of Christian to not think of this, I
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 31, 2006
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        There is something I don't think that I've heard anyone else mention. For
        this western society where many are some form of Christian to not think of
        this, I find amazing. According to the Bible, God created the universe and
        there was law and structure out of chaos. Now what do you think is going to
        happen when humanity becomes even more chaotic than they are now? Earth will
        roll and humanity or what's left of it will go back to the stone age. Try,
        try again...Humanity needs to learn to think ahead and be responsible for
        what it creates and how it affects others. That others means the planets as
        well as the other living creatures under humanities wing. Just like humanity
        will act to stop a creation that gets out of control or should, so will the
        gods act if humanity allows itself to loose control.

        The center of the universe sends out new planets like a pin ball machine
        spits out new balls, only it sends them out onto the arms of the universe.
        That right there should point out to humans that the rocks the Mother throws
        are as big as asteroids and planets. So it really doesn't matter how much
        Nasa is looking for near earth orbiting asteroids if she can do this... Now
        that article about Sophia, which I figure has deep connections with the
        church, said as much. They seemed to feel that the Sun, Earth, and Moon were
        living beings. Do they not believe the rest of the Mothers army, that when
        there are no chemtrails we witness in the sky each night watching us, are
        not living beings? Because they are learning different lessons and their
        body doesn't look like yours?

        Isn't it ironic that the gods have literally come down to earth and
        incarnated into human bodies to help humanity evolve and still humanity does
        not comprehend that the ensouled-spirit can take any form, any body it
        wants. If I choose to change bodies from a womans body to a planets body,
        does that make me a different being? No, the answer is I would have done the
        same as purchasing a new car. I would still be me. It keeps coming down to
        this one item. No matter which direction I come from it always comes down to
        humanity realizing they are not their body...


        -----Original Message-----
        From: ufodiscussion@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:ufodiscussion@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Light Eye
        Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2006 10:06 AM
        To: global_rumblings@yahoogroups.com; Global_Rumblings@...;
        SpeakIt@...; ufodiscussion@yahoogroups.com;
        changingplanetchat@yahoogroups.com; astrosciences@yahoogroups.com;
        GS5555@...; giuliano.marinkovic@...;
        wayfarer9@...; parascience@...
        Subject: [ufodiscussion] Singularities And Nightmares


        Dear Friends,

        This is long so I'm only posting an excerpt. Click the link to read the
        whole article.

        http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=memelist.html?m=1%23656

        Love and Light.

        David

        Singularities and Nightmares
        by David Brin

        Options for a coming singularity include self-destruction of
        civilization, a positive singularity, a negative singularity (machines take
        over), and retreat into tradition. Our urgent goal: find (and avoid) failure
        modes, using anticipation (thought experiments) and resiliency --
        establishing robust systems that can deal with almost any problem as it
        arises.

        Originally published in Nanotechnology Perceptions: A Review of
        Ultraprecision Engineering and Nanotechnology, Volume 2, No. 1, March 27
        2006.1 Reprinted with permission on KurzweilAI.net March 28, 2006.

        In order to give you pleasant dreams tonight, let me offer a few
        possibilities about the days that lie ahead—changes that may occur within
        the next twenty or so years, roughly a single human generation.
        Possibilities that are taken seriously by some of today's best minds.
        Potential transformations of human life on Earth and, perhaps, even what it
        means to be human.


        For example, what if biologists and organic chemists manage to do to
        their laboratories the same thing that cyberneticists did to computers?
        Shrinking their vast biochemical labs from building-sized behemoths down to
        units that are utterly compact, making them smaller, cheaper, and more
        powerful than anyone imagined. Isn't that what happened to those gigantic
        computers of yesteryear? Until, today, your pocket cell phone contains as
        much processing power and sophistication as NASA owned during the moon
        shots. People who foresaw this change were able to ride this technological
        wave. Some of them made a lot of money.


        Biologists have come a long way already toward achieving a similar
        transformation. Take, for example, the Human Genome Project, which sped up
        the sequencing of DNA by so many orders of magnitude that much of it is now
        automated and miniaturized. Speed has skyrocketed, while prices plummet,
        promising that each of us may soon be able to have our own genetic mappings
        done, while-U-wait, for the same price as a simple EKG. Imagine extending
        this trend, by simple extrapolation, compressing a complete biochemical
        laboratory the size of a house down to something that fits cheaply on your
        desktop. A MolecuMac, if you will. The possibilities are both marvelous and
        frightening.

        When designer drugs and therapies are swiftly modifiable by skilled
        medical workers, we all should benefit.


        But then, won't there also be the biochemical equivalent of "hackers"?
        What are we going to do when kids all over the world can analyze and
        synthesize any organic compound, at will? In that event, we had better hope
        for accompanying advances in artificial intelligence and robotics... at
        least to serve our fast food burgers. I'm not about to eat at any restaurant
        that hires resentful human adolescents, who swap fancy recipes for their
        home molecular synthesizers over the Internet. Would you?


        Now don't get me wrong. If we ever do have MolecuMacs on our desktops,
        I'll wager that 99 percent of the products will be neutral or profoundly
        positive, just like most of the software creativity flowing from young
        innovators today. But if we're already worried about a malicious one percent
        in the world of bits and bytes—hackers and cyber-saboteurs—then what happens
        when this kind of 'creativity' moves to the very stuff of life itself? Nor
        have we mentioned the possibility of intentional abuse by larger
        entities—terror cabals, scheming dictatorships, or rogue corporations.


        These fears start to get even more worrisome when we ponder the next
        stage, beyond biotech. Deep concerns are already circulating about what will
        happen when nanotechnology—ultra-small machines building products
        atom-by-atom to precise specifications—finally hits its stride. Molecular
        manufacturing could result in super-efficient factories that create wealth
        at staggering rates of efficiency. Nano-maintenance systems may enter your
        bloodstream to cure disease or fine-tune bodily functions. Visionaries
        foresee this technology helping to save the planet from earlier human
        errors, for instance by catalyzing the recycling of obstinate pollutants.
        Those desktop units eventually may become universal fabricators that turn
        almost any raw material into almost any product you might desire...


        ... or else (some worry), nanomachines might break loose to become the
        ultimate pollution. A self-replicating disease, gobbling everything in
        sight, conceivably turning the world's surface into gray goo.2


        Others have raised this issue before, some of them in very colorful
        ways. Take the sensationalist novel Prey, by Michael Crichton, which
        portrays a secretive agency hubristically pushing an arrogant new
        technology, heedless of possible drawbacks or consequences. Crichton's
        typical worried scenario about nanotechnology follows a pattern nearly
        identical to his earlier thrillers about unleashed dinosaurs, robots, and
        dozens of other techie perils, all of them viewed with reflexive suspicious
        loathing. (Of course, in every situation, the perilous excess happens to
        result from secrecy, a topic that we will return to, later.) A much earlier
        and better novel, Blood Music, by Greg Bear, presented the up and downside
        possibilities of nanotech with profound vividness.

        Especially the possibility that most worries even optimists within the
        nanotechnology community—that the pace of innovation may outstrip our
        ability to cope.


        Now, at one level, this is an ancient fear. If you want to pick a single
        cliché that is nearly universally held, across all our surface boundaries of
        ideology and belief—e.g. left-versus-right, or even religious-vs-secular—the
        most common of all would probably be:


        "Isn't it a shame that our wisdom has not kept pace with technology?"


        While this cliché is clearly true at the level of solitary human beings,
        and even mass-entities like corporations, agencies or political parties, I
        could argue that things aren't anywhere near as clear at the higher level of
        human civilization.

        Elsewhere I have suggested that "wisdom" needs to be defined according
        to outcomes and processes, not the perception or sagacity of any particular
        individual guru or sage. Take the outcome of the Cold War… the first known
        example of humanity acquiring a means of massive violence, and then mostly
        turning away from that precipice. Yes, that means of self-destruction is
        still with us. But two generations of unprecedented restraint suggest that
        we have made a little progress in at least one kind of "wisdom." That is,
        when the means of destruction are controlled by a few narrowly selected
        elite officials on both sides of a simple divide.


        But are we ready for a new era, when the dilemmas are nowhere near as
        simple? In times to come, the worst dangers to civilization may not come
        from clearly identifiable and accountable adversaries—who want to win an
        explicit, set-piece competition—as much as from a general democratization of
        the means to do harm. New technologies, distributed by the Internet and
        effectuated by cheaply affordable tools, will offer increasing numbers of
        angry people access to modalities of destructive power--means that will be
        used because of justified grievance, avarice, indignant anger, or simply
        because they are there.


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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