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10 April 2010


RL Crabb

Another sign that the Singularity is closer than we think... This morning I was playing checkers with my toaster. The toaster won.

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It all boils down to how much authority and power we give a servant. I am happy to turn on the cruise control on the freeway while others never do as they will not cede control. Now, some cars will actively operate the brakes if you are too close to the car in front of you. A lot of buying and selling on the stock market is done according to computer code. The scary part (for me, anyway) is the point at which the non-human controller is allowed to make decisions that are based on self-learned behavior, not on strict pre-programmed behaviors. I'm sure there are industrial robotic machines that already do that, to a degree. It all boils down to who has ultimate control over the OFF switch. Any entity, human or other, that has the intelligence and authority to rule over any part of my life will only be acceptable if I can ultimately voluntarily separate from that relationship. And that is a very old question that is wrestled with every day, singularity or not. Brave new world!

RL Crabb

There is an obvious solution to the problem of machines running our lives...Let the left win.

Conservatives have been saying for years if things continue on their present course, we'll be living in mud huts and driving ox carts by the end of the century.

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No - sorry, no ox carts allowed! Oxen flatulence causes global warming.

Douglas Keachie

Living with Microsoft operating systems convinced me years ago the machines have already won. Latest battle over mouse control, which suddenly went south in my main ID on the laptop. Laptop mousepad worked everywhere else, all other ID's, not in the main ID, even though it supposedly has admin rights. Reinstalled drivers in a roundabout way, nothing changed, messed with startup menu to no avail.

Finally happen to notice on the touchpad itself a very slight glow of red of an icon for the pad. Further research reveals an even tinier blend into the background black button. I push the button and red icon becomes blue, touch tablet/mousepad pointing device is back in operation. Time wasted, at least two hours. My white hair showed up with the introduction of Win95. An hour to install, 30 seconds for a kid to knock it down.

Douglas Keachie

Thought question, for self aware machines.

Can logic itself generate pleasure and therefore motivation to be interested in anything? Or motivation to do anything? Can a machine be self aware without the complex chemistry that appears to control such things in our brains?


Sorry Urbane the Turing test is still a long way off. As to the singularity? One man will prevent it.Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures, ex-Microsoft executive.



Microsoft operating systems Ow, you can go different. Buy a Mac, and you can run those awful MS apps on it too.

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Or go with a version of Linux. An easy way to try it is with Ubuntu. Totally free. I've been using it for years and recommend it highly. It self-installed on a Thinkpad with no problems. XP on the same laptop required fetching extra drivers.

Michael Anderson

In the April 12, 2010, edition of the "The New Yorker" magazine is a great cartoon on page 55 -- some scientists are looking over the Singularity Robots and they are typing at their keyboards, morosely. The scientists in the background chime in:

"The robots have become self-aware and self-loathing. Now all they do is write novels."

That is great comedy, IMHO.

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