What, 34 years away?
Even for me, who can get freaked out over just about anything…
THIS is stretching it:
[via Technology Review] Futurists like Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil have argued that the world is rapidly approaching a tipping point, where the accelerating pace of smarter and smarter machines will soon outrun all human capabilities. They call this tipping point the singularity, because they believe it is impossible to predict how the human future might unfold after this point. Once these machines exist, Kurzweil and Vinge claim, they’ll possess a superhuman intelligence that is so incomprehensible to us that we cannot even rationally guess how our life experiences would be altered. Vinge asks us to ponder the role of humans in a world where machines are as much smarter than us as we are smarter than our pet dogs and cats.
Kurzweil, who is a bit more optimistic, envisions a future in which developments in medical nanotechnology will allow us to download a copy of our individual brains into these superhuman machines, leave our bodies behind, and, in a sense, live forever. It’s heady stuff.
While we suppose this kind of singularity might one day occur, we don’t think it is near. In fact, we think it will be a very long time coming. Kurzweil disagrees, based on his extrapolations about the rate of relevant scientific and technical progress. He reasons that the rate of progress toward the singularity isn’t just a progression of steadily increasing capability, but is in fact exponentially accelerating—what Kurzweil calls the “Law of Accelerating Returns.” He writes that:
So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity … 
By working through a set of models and historical data, Kurzweil famously calculates that the singularity will arrive around 2045. [Read More]
So, the Singularity and the arrival of our Robot Overlords won’t happen for a few decades.
I must say, this depresses me just a tad.
Without technology feeding my fear…
What else do I have?
Creepy Medical Science and the possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse thanks to Science rejuvenating the Black Plague.
[via NYTimes]After the Black Death reached London in 1348, some 2,400 people were buried in East Smithfield, near the Tower of London, in a cemetery that had been prepared for the plague’s arrival. From the teeth of four of those victims, researchers have now reconstructed the full DNA of a microbe that within five years felled one- third to one-half of the population of Western Europe. [Read More]
Ah, sweet Science?
I knew you wouldn’t let me down….
With all of your seemingly ever-prevalent attempts to kill, not only me?
But all of mankind.
*shakes head sadly*