Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

(Very) Little Green Men

Just finished Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines. A boffo read, definitely. Kurzweil, in case you've never heard of him (and I hadn't until a few weeks ago), is a prolific inventor, scientist and author. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the nation's highest award, the National Medal of Technology. In 2005 Bill Gates called him "the best at predicting the future of artificial intelligence." On the Army Science Advisory Board, he has testified before the U.S. Congress on nanotechnology.

I'm about to start reading one of his more recent books, The Singularity is Near, but before I do, let me relate to you one of Ray's most interesting surmises.

Kurzweil, who is now known for his "Law of Accelerating Returns," believes that any civilization that survives into the inevitable period when it merges with its own technology will do so before it attempts to gain knowledge of other worlds and intelligences by traveling among the stars. Therefore, he says, we should not expect a visit from fleshy creatures in conventionally-sized craft. According to Kurzweil, such craft would be an extravagant and unnecessary waste of space and fuel. What he envisions is a microscopic machine intelligence that visits only to gain knowledge, which would be the only commodity it needs and wants.

Such tiny visitors to our planet would not even be noticeable to humans. This is why Ray suggests we have indeed not noticed them, if they are already here.

3 comments :

CinnamongirlFla said...

Boffo?? Well, anyway, your guy is incorrect...I see those little green guys every day. Sometimes their teeny spaceships bump into me and I squash them. 8-)

Barry Mahfood said...

Yes, I said boffo. You got a problem with that?

CinnamongirlFla said...

Naw...it's groovy.