Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UFOs, Aliens & the Singularity


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If you've never heard of the singularity, you seriously need to hone your geek 'cred'.

Science fiction writer Vernor Vinge popularized the term singularity to refer to a moment in time when technology outpaces human intelligence.

Given the arguably sketchy state of human intelligence these days, you might think that the singularity came and went long ago, but according to futurist Ray Kurzweil (who is looking forward to the singularity the way kids look forward to Christmas morning), it should arrive in the year 2045.

Vinge thinks the singularity will come sometime before 2030, and he's busy mainlining vitamins in the meantime in preparation.

Vinge is pretty sure the singularity will allow people who are excited about merging with machines with big brains to basically live forever.

I guess he is one of those kinds of people who never spilled coffee on his keyboard.

Well, never mind. I'm giving myself away here.

The point is, once artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence, all bets are off. Not only will the future be unpredictable to the extreme, we might not even recognize what is happening because we lack the intelligence to accurately perceive and process it.

If this is all true, how do we know the singularity hasn't already happened?

We don't, not really. We could all be virtual beings inside some computer brain right now. And that's where UFOs come in.

According to author and blogger Micah Hanks, UFOs might not be directed by an extraterrestrial biological intelligence, but rather a notably terrestrial machine intelligence, and there is pretty much no way of knowing when this intelligence was born and what its intentions are.

All we can really be sure of is that it is probably smarter than we are and its aims are not human ones, and not necessarily benevolent.

That's all pretty creepy. But it's an idea that's infected popular culture to the point that we are seeing it in our films and television shows. The recent CBS hit "Extant" seems headed in this general direction, and in the most recent version of "Battlestar Galactica" A.I. creatures originally designed by humans decide to just exterminate us before we ruin the universe for everybody.

I personally think that there's a good chance we'll exterminate ourselves way before our favorite robots get a chance to slip Armageddon past us, but that's just me.

I just broke yet another toaster. I have spilled coffee on my keyboard. And I think living forever as part of a machine could well be some post-modern version of hell.

But what a great time to write science fiction!

What am I doing blogging???? (Don't answer that!)


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