The Networked Singularity

Augmented RealityThis is a recent post of mine on the extropians list, in response to a query about how people see the singularity panning out. (AI = Artificial Intelligence, IA = Intelligence Augmentation, ie: augmented humans)


2009/11/16 spike:>>
> On Sun, Nov 15, 2009 at 6:20 PM, spike wrote:
>>>What I do mean is this: what is your mental picture or roadmap, however
> fuzzy, to the singularity?

I gave the roadmap a shot. It’s a rambling mess, but see how you like it.

Singularity Roadmap – The Borgularity (IA)

– The network of minds is the thing.
– AI wont be significant probably, IA will outstrip it. There are no
decent feedback loops for AI. We assume AI can self augment, but
that’s an incredibly difficult problem. Prior to that, it seems to be
lots of disconnected research in lab like environments. Any feedback
that does occur will be entirely dependent on and a secondary effect
of the network of minds, as below.
– OTOH, we have a single network of human level intelligence, where
all kinds of facets of intelligence are the determining factors of
fitness. eg: communication skills, raw insight, excellence in narrow
– The global network is the mega olympics of the mind, but instead of
running every four years, it’s run every day. We wake, we join the
network, we compete, eventually we sleep.
– The object of competition in the mega olympics of the mind is attention.
– The mega olympics of the mind has a bewildering array of
competitions. Open source sound codecs? Pro-am manga art? Youtube
Origami demonstration? etc to something resembling infinity.
– It’s mostly a meritocracy, with reputation for hysteresis. But that
hysteresis is small; you can’t easily rest on your laurels, because
the games begin anew each day.
– Any competition which attempts to introduce too much reputation
hysteresis (winners try to hold onto their position) gets outflanked
by closely related but more nimble substitutable competitions.
– Attention is the new money. It is the important resource. ergo, you
cannot ignore the mega olympics unless you can live a life of original
affluence (need very little attention). Just about no one can do this.
Those who can are invisible, and accept that the games go on without
– Every interesting innovation on the leadup to the IA singularity
relates to the mega olympics of the mind. Some will relate to being
able to reach further (eg: better software, better tools for search,
data management, community forming and enablement). Some will relate
to being able to be present more often (mobile devices, mobile
notification, laptops in bed and on the toilet, the ubiquitous
network, nodoze). Some will relate to just being mentally better than
your counterparts (nootropics, ritalin, personal semi intelligent
– The money economy will continue to collapse, as more capital finds
it more difficult to find a home. Industries based in digital
information will continue to collapse financially, while the actual
job they are doing, the function they play, is continually enhanced.
eg: newspapers, music, books, movies, coming up are science and
universities, health.
– Home factory production, ie: rapid prototyping’s descendants, will
cause a whole new swathe of industries to implode financially. Again,
the jobs they were doing will now be done better.
– People want to participate, the best people want to participate
best. Look to more people (and disproportionately more of the
important people) looking for ways to live with less and less money,
and less commitments related to gathering money, in order to
participate more fully.
– Less people will be needed to do the important things; the network
is a labour multiplier and labour devaluer (in monetary terms). The
mega olympics of the mind will continually find the best and brightest
and multiply the products of their efforts for the whole world to use,
while reintroducing those products back into the next round of the
– Any technologies which make non-information things behave like
information will prosper.
– Any technologies which help people more easily meet their minimum
living requirements will be taken up en-masse, especially by the best
and brightest. Free information products are already passe. Automated
and/or subsidised provisions of free power/food/housing/clothing/money
will find their foothold a strong one. These all reduce the requirement
to compete for and do pointless work for pay, and increase
the time available to compete in the network.
– As an example, Google and its ilk are getting more into the power
business, because they consume so much. Could they begin providing
free power to communities as a good will effort in the future?
– Who will be the first to invent a unit you can stick in your
backyard which uses air and (solar?) power, grows bioengineered goop,
and processes it into either something directly edible, or feedstock
for sophisticated food printers? The same goop might be used to make
plastic parts/items, and maybe clothing? As far as food goes, the
early stuff doesn’t have to be special. The early adopters will be
internet ascetics.
– When will Blizzard open its first full service line of apartments;
basically bedsits with great network access and everything delivered,
for the truly devoted WoW player? Actually there are plenty who would
eschew deliveries for a drip & a catheter.
– What can you create as an implant (possibly biological), which takes
electricity and the air you breathe, and turns it into the energy you
need to live, removing the need to eat?
– Any technologies which minimize the need for sleep and other
downtime will be favoured. Expect to see the coming of the always on
netizen. Perhaps you already know someone like this?
– Just increasing the time available to be in the game is not enough,
you also have to be better than your contempories/opponents, or even
in a cooperative environment you have to stay above the rising tide of
competence of your collaborators. The trends in automated tools to
enhance your abilities will continue.
– The “smart phone” area will become wearable computing, which will
eventually include implants. Or, we may never get implants; technology
might get to be that good, that we can physically alter ourselves
without what we would now consider surgery, by the time we need it.
– The Apple iMind might read and induce mental states through the skull.
– We move at increasing speed. One of the most compelling requirements
will be to increase the speed with which we can interact. The games
will happen on a shorter and shorter span. I expect the end game of
the singularity to involve a speeding up, somehow (probably many-how)
of subjective time; we will experience hours as we now experience
days, then minutes as days, and so on. What will we use? Drugs?
Neurohacking? Offline processing providing by semi-intelligent agents?
In-skull implanted modules to provide extra memory or calculation
abilities or direct network access? But none of this can compete with
– The big data center companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, etc) will
continue the computronium buildout. We will put more and more of
ourselves in there, until finally we can upload completely. Judging by
the success of our rudimentary modern online worlds, even when we have
crappy first gen uploading people will move there by their millions,
at least.
– The ever tightening loop, the reinforcing mega olympics of the mind,
with uploads, augmented humans, intelligent agents which are early
AIs, unintelligent but computationally mind numbingly powerful
automated networks of bots, with the reference timeframe speeding up
and the minimum height to ride markers of all competitions inexorably
rising, this will be the singularity.
– Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated! It will be awesome!


The Networked Singularity

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