Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Singularity is near

I have been reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil This has been a fascinating read and I have been really challenged in my perceptions about what the future may hold.  It is particularly interesting to read it almost 10 years after publication, because I am seeing many of his predictions shown wrong, but only in the timing.  He predicted Google Glass but was off by how soon it would be available and adopted.  He predicted ubiquitous broadband WiFi which is getting there but hasn't quite reached it.  His is only wrong in the very minor details of timing.

Today I was reading the chapter about trading in our bodies for Human 2.0.  I have joked about when the robopocalypse happens, I am switching sides.  I will ask them to download me into a machine and I will join the robots.  Kurzweil says I am not far wrong, but the biggest idea that hit me today was the concept of Virtual Reality and Real Reality as he refers to it all the time in the book.  Some might want to juxtapose Virtual Reality with Physical Reality.  As we spend more and more of our time in virtualized experiences of movies, games, and social networking sites, we are developing communities friends and experiences that are no less real for having taken place only in our mind.  Even physical reality is our minds interpretation of the molecular and energetic reactions around us.

But I like the terms Cognitive Reality versus Corporeal Reality.  If what Kurzweil argues comes to pass by 2040 or 2050 many humans will have transcended mere biological intelligence. I see this happening already.  I have a much deeper memory than my ancestors because I have thousands of photos recording specific moments with clarity that my ancestors could not have.  I have in essence expanded my intelligence/memory by offloading it to digital space.  Kurzweil predicts that this will happen with our bodies as well.  We will exist as individuals in the cloud, to use today's term, and when needed will use a variety of nanobots and holograms to generate a corporeal presence for any number of reasons.  This really highlights the contrast between Cognitive Reality and Corporeal Reality.  Something I experience only in my mind is no less real than something I experience with a body.  This could include our communities and other experiences.  It makes me really wonder how we will value all relationships and experiences when we can download them.

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