I was going to report on the just released results from the Index of Economic Freedom that celebrates its 20th year. In it the dire news is that the US has dropped out of the top 10 of the 186 countries rated – we are now 12th and continuing to go down (more here and here). In that report I would lament the eternally dense liberal mind that in its collective application is doing everything possible to reduce our freedoms and ability to have an economy which supports broad-based generation of wealth. I would also point out the undisputable global evidence that it is the poor that suffer most in countries lower in the IEF rankings.
But in this last great century of Man we have bigger problems facing us as a species huddled on the third planet revolving around a no count star in an unexceptional galaxy. I was drawn to Max Tegmark’s report of the same title as reported in Ray Kurzweil’s newsletter (here). Dr Tegmark of MIT is a physicist who, I was advised by a reader, just published Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality (2013), offering a new theory on the sum and substance of our cosmos. But as we learn from his 13jan14 report, he wants to alert us to a much larger and proximate concern - our ignorance of and inattention to the impending Singularity. (Regular RR readers should be very familiar with the topic featured in the Singularity Signposts section.)
In the developed world we are seeing the impact of the pre-Singularity effects every time we open a newspaper or turn on the news. Our own country is following an increasingly insane path in how we amplify these effects through taking another turn down on our educational system (cf Common Core) – dumbth abounds and continues to spread – and tighten the screws on wealth creation through ever higher taxes and regulatory pile on. The declared aim of our progressive elites is to herd more and more of these low-information, increasingly un/deremployed sheeple into the voting booths so as to enable them to accelerate the process.
After (the Singularity), life on Earth would never be the same. Whoever or whatever controls this technology would rapidly become the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, outsmarting all financial markets, out-inventing and out-patenting all human researchers, and out-manipulating all human leaders. Even if we humans nominally merge with such machines, we might have no guarantees whatsoever about the ultimate outcome, making it feel less like a merger and more like a hostile corporate takeover.
Tegmark’s point is that today we should be doing some homework on the approach of this event because it is already affecting us and its effects will intensify with every passing year. However, in the public forum we seem to be completely blind to this process, relegating it to the same ol’ same ol’ advance of technology that we have experienced at least since the Industrial Revolution. But this isn’t the same at all since we have no idea how the Singularity will turn out – utopia is not guaranteed, it may instead turn into humanity’s terminal dystopia. The main thing is that we are doing nothing to prepare for the event and its aftermath. Only private groups like the supporters (Google, Cisco, et al) of Singularity University and intelligence.org (Machine Intelligence Research Institute) are working to define the problem while attempting to alert the rest of us to a future that is already making itself felt.
Given our wholesale innumeracy and exposure to such ‘science’ as underpins anthropogenic global warming (or whatever its currently camouflaged label is), I often wonder whether we as a society are still able to comprehend, let alone respond to, warnings such as this. But not to worry, let’s get back to the delta smelt problem, and working for the next Agenda21 objective.
[Exit problem for the informed reader – what is the likelihood that post-Singularity civilizations have already evolved on at least one of the billions of exoplanets that cohabit this galaxy with us, and that at least one such civilization has developed the ability for inter-stellar (inter-galactic?) transport? Consider the possibilities.]
[16jan14 update] And today the prestigious Economist dispenses its corroborating wisdom about the pre-Singularity years. Bit by piece the media are beginning to see what has been known to RR readers for some years now.
[29jan14 update] A correspondent sends this little piece of news about Google’s latest foray into the unknown. It purchased an AI company and in the process has become concerned enough about the Singularity that it will convene an “AI Ethics Board” to help stave off the possibility of human extinction in the post-Singularity years. Meanwhile, the entire Singularity concept is still too big for most people to wrap their minds around as evinced by reason-free denials and ridicule of those who dare bring it up when discussing relevant public policy. In any event, I again draw your attention that my purpose for RR is to bring you a forum for debating ‘observations and interpretations from the last great century of Man.’