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Singularity vs. Spirituality October 7, 2008

Posted by IntimatePower in interactions, technology.
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The Singularity is the moment when
1. artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, and will then be able to create an even higher level of intelligence.
2. human beings will be able to “download” their brains into a computer and thus will reach immortality.

In response to a blog post about the singularity at Kevin Kelly’s blog, I wrote the following:

I see this as a spiritual and philosophical issue, not a technological one.
I’d like to offer some ideas and questions that I’ve been contemplating:

1. Singularitans think that consciousness arises from the brain, while spiritualists believe that consciousness arises from the soul, and that the brain and body is just a physical manifestation of the soul.

2. The brain is just a machine – advanced, complex, evolved enough, to serve the soul on this physical plain.
The soul “downloads” itself into the brain, into the body.
It’s the hardware without the software.
Without the soul, it’s just meat.

3. Kurtzweil or others may transfer their brain structure to a computer, but the result will be what William Gibson calls a personality construct – a copy of the persons’ character, persona, memories, etc., which can be programmed to appear self aware, but will not really be.

4. However, I also see it as possible that, as AI gets sufficiently strong, a soul can take residence in it, and for outside observers it would seem as tough the AI has reached self awareness by its own.

5. Which human abilities can _never_ be replicated or surpassed by a machine ?

6. Does high intelligence necessarily mean consciousness and/or self-awareness?

7. What about emotional intelligence ?

8. I see some of the hopes towards singularity and immortality as a simple fear of death and the denial of spirituality.

Augmented Reality December 23, 2007

Posted by IntimatePower in technology.
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Nicholas Carr points to an interesting New Economist article about “augmented reality” which involves the displaying or superimposing of “computer-generated text and images onto the physical world.”

A very basic implementation of AR is already used when you watch an international sports match. The electronic billboards at the stadium are used by each television network to display different advertisements, possibly in various languages according to their viewer’s location.

Other potential uses include:
– Displaying driving directions over your front windshield which are superimposed over the actual road,
– Providing surgeons with “superhuman” skills by projecting x-ray, IR, and other images directly on the skin of the patient,
– Assisting soldiers in training and in the battelfield by having them wear see-through visors and displaying on them tactical information such as targets, attack or patrol paths, and potential sniper nests

Nick concludes: “What’s really going to happen is that the real and the virtual will blur together, become indistinguishable, as more of our experience becomes computer-generated. Eventually, there won’t be any reality to escape from.”

A good introduction to augmented reality is in this guy’s PhD thesis.