Computers are the new ecstasy: Transcendence

Since Imran pointed me at the trailer transcendence, ever since I’ve been thinking about the singularity.

If you don’t know what the singularity (I’m talking about the traditional sense, if there is such a thing. It gets used in many different ways)

The singularity, is a theoretical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature

Interestingly I started watching Brain Jazz with Jason Silva and Douglas Rushkoff. (Shame it doesn’t work with the Chromecast). Maybe if I was at home, I could get it working with XBMC/Plex somehow. Anyway, its interesting to watch Silva and Rushkoff wax lyrical about the singularity.

Silva loves the idea of the Singularity while Rushkoff is less interested. (7:30mins in Rushkoff roughly says – remember I’m rubbish at note taking being dyslexic)

“…We talk alot about the singularity, I get the… The singularity to me is this self loathing, anti-human, zombie apocalypse fantasy. The story they tell is the history of evolution is information its self striving to greater states of complexity. Humans are really good, Culture is really good,  been good for the last 10,000 years but now computers are better. People are only any good to help machines transcendence the next stage of evolution…”

Silva nicely replies pointing out that this isn’t a zero sum game. We may have a bias towards skinbags but AI is actual fact us if we can get over the skinbag bias.

And thats my problem with Transcendence. Its all Zero-sum, theres no room for the humans (say hello to the robots indeed), I’m deeply worried about this being clique central although (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Johnny Depp has been talking about the philosophical underpinning of the film. For me having Christopher Nolan on-board is a massive plus, but he’s not actually directing or writing it.

I guess we’ll find out in April which way it goes…

Back to Rushkoff and Silva’s mindjam.

Rushkoff point through out, is people are not learning from there experiences and then bringing it back into reality. So they create Second Life instead of changing First Life. Life should be lived to the point of tears Silva says and Rushkoff agrees, adding we’ve lost the Awe in life, this is why people seek physiological drugs/highs. But the best part of such a high is the come down, the realisation that our world is full of awe.

This is something I can relate to. I have never taken physiological drugs. Even while being surrounded by them at raves and clubs in the 90′s. I always said my life is so full of stimulation and awe, I don’t need to fill it with even more awe.

Theres plenty of great ideas and questions in the session including Rushkoff’s deconstruction of our current social networks. Lovely look at human nature and the young kids trading sweets in a traditional bazaar.

Maybe we need a Brain Jazz in Manchester? This level of conversation is something I do miss.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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