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Old November 18 2013, 03:13 PM   #43
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Information age to "Hybrid Age"

Come on, it is hard to take someone seriously who does shit like this:

An example of a prediction that was cited as “false” when it is, in fact, true is, “Personal computers are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and are commonly embedded in clothing and jewelry.” When I wrote this prediction in the 1990s, portable computers were large heavy devices carried under your arm.

Today, they are indeed embedded in shirt pockets, jacket pockets, and hung from belt loops. Colorful iPod nano models are worn on blouses as jewelry pins or on a sleeve while running, health monitors are woven into undergarments, computers are built into hearing aids, and there are many other examples. The prediction does not say that all computers would be small devices integrated in these ways, just that this would be “common,” which is indeed the case. And “personal computers” should not be restricted to the marketing category we happen to call “personal computers” today.
"When I said 'personal computer,' I didn't actually mean 'personal computer,' and when I said 'embedded,' I didn't mean actually 'embedded,' just that you'd carry it around with you." The "embedded" part is more objectionable than the rest, although we can't credit Kurzweil with much prescience on this one: he wrote The Age of Spiritual Machines in 1999 and PDAs had been around for a few years before that. He predicted the trend of such devices would continue, bringing us further miniaturization and functionality, and it has. He's good at near-term extrapolation of current trends. That has no relation to his ability to predict long-term consequences.

Paul Allen's criticisms are spot on. Kurzweil pretty much just handwaved them away. If that is the extent of his ability to "counter" the points of critics, I don't think we've got much to worry about here.

The Singularity sounds fascinating, and it would be amazing if we were close to that level of technology, but we're not, and we won't be for a long time (probably not this century.) Bigger threats to human endeavors are rearing their ugly heads and we'll have to contend with them. Essentially, we will have to figure out how to be good humans as we are before we start worrying about how to be transhumans, or the same problems that plague us today will hound us far into the future, Singularity or no Singularity. It just seems to be used as a handwave solution for all our problems. "Energy crisis? Global warming? World hunger? Don't worry! Singularity!" This is why it is criticized for having religious overtones and being lambasted as the "geek Rapture." That's exactly what it is.
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