101. Transcendent Man: When Humans Merge With Technology & Transcend Biology

18 important takeaways from this documentary:

00:05:20 Singularity is a future period which technological change will be so rapid and its impact so profound that every aspect of human life will be irreversably transformed and there won’t be a clear distinction between humans and machines.

Technology feeds on itself and it gets faster and faster.

In the future this change will be so quick that humans will not be able to keep up with the pace unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent technology we are creating. By then, technology will be small enough to be inside our bodies and brains, and we’re going to be a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence. – Ray Kurzweil

00:07:00 If you put things together in just the right way you can create transcendent effects. Most inventors fail not because they don’t get their gadgets to work, but  because the timing is wrong. People don’t start a project when the hardware and the technological capability doesn’t exist yet to support it; but in fact you should do that.

00:08:04 Information technology follows relatively predictable trajectories, and you can use this as a planning tool. Meaning I can’t just take projections for just 2, 3, 4, or 6 years, but 10, 20, 50 years from now and invent with the technologies of the future. I can’t build those devices yet, but I can describe them and write about them.

00:11:44 People routinely underestimate what is achievable in long periods of time because they leave out the radical implications of exponential growth.

People can see, even in their own lifetimes, how much more quickly technology moves today than it did five years ago.

The law of accelerating returns argues that the nature of technological progress is exponential. If I count linearly (1, 2, 3, 4…), if I take 30 steps, I get to 30. If I count exponentially (2, 4, 8,16…),  30 steps later I’m at 1.07 billion.

00:12:30 Moore’s Law observes that basically every two years, we can fit twice as many components onto a chip. And because they’re closer together they run faster. And so computers get twice as capable overall for the same price every year.

00:13:30 Information technology grows exponentially because we are constantly using the latest technology to create the next.

This is true in general of an evolutionary process. In fact even biological evolution long before humans even evolved shows the same phenomenom.

Major paradigm shifts such as search engines evolved with the past few years. The reason we get to the point of singularity is because the time of evolution will continue to decrease.

00:18:00 There will come a time when having sight or not (or any other handicap for that matter) will not really matter. Today we can communicate to one another by sending thoughts over the internet. It’s certainly possible that computers embedded in our brain and bloodstream would allow us to communicate directly.

00:19:10 We only have to capture 1/10,000th of a sunlight that falls on the earth to meet all of our energy needs. So, barring any copyright and patent fights from lobbying industry leaders, we could actually replace fossil fuels with nano-engineered solar panels.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the modern state of the industrial industry, watch the documentary End:CIV – How Our Indstrial Society Is Leading Towards An Ecological Apocalypse.]

00:19:45 Intelligence is the most powerful force on the planet. All the problems we struggle with today – the environment, energy, health, disease, poverty… – we’ll be able to solve those problems – in fact well before the singularity – just through the increasing power of information technology.

80% of disease in the world comes from polluted water, and there are very inexpensive technologies emerging to clean polluted water.

00:21:00 The three great overlapping revolutions (GNR) are in:

  1. Genetics (bio technology) – We will eventually be able to program biology away from disease and aging.
  2. Nano-technology – Blood-cell sized devices that can go inside your body to keep you healthy from the inside and allow us to merge with non-biological elements.
  3. Robotics (AI) – Arguably the most significant revolution of all, machines will be able to match, and surpass, human intelligence, giving us super-human intelligence and enable us to solve problems impossible to solve today. At this point, our brains would be mostly non-biological machines, so we would theoretically be able to  back up our brains, stop aging and live indefinitely.

00:27:00 A lot of people today are racing with the hopes of singularity before they die, perhaps even being able to escape death through singularity. Perhaps immortality yes, some day… but maybe not in this lifetime.

00:35:10 A thousand years ago, life expectancy was around 25 years. Whereas biology and health medicine used to be hit or miss, today we’re able to reprogram it just like you’re able to reprogram a computer.

“In genetics, there aren’t ‘good’ genes and ‘bad’ genes; there is a balance. We could do a lot of foolish things to try and alter human beings; to improve them. The net result of that might be tragedy.

Ray Kurzweil is an interesting, entertaining visionary. But he’s not a biologist. Were he a biologist, he would be more moderate in his extensions and extrapolations of the uses of our technology.

Engineering a better human being is going to be a daunting task. After nearly 5 million years of field-testing, the modern human being is who he is because of this field-testing – creating an organism atuned to survive in a range of environments with a range of talents and a range of possibilities. To upset this balance by exaggerating some feature will cost us something. We shouldn’t just arrogantly think we have transcended the wisdom of 1,000s of years of human experience.  –Dr. William B. Hurlbut, Neuroscience Professor at Stanford University

[EDITOR’S NOTE: In his lecture Critical Thinking: Keys To Critical Thinking & Thinking About Dubious Claims, James Randi posits that intelligent people can fall victim to critical thinking mistakes because being competent in one field of study in no way guarantees being competent in another field of study.]

00:40:20 Artificial Intelligence (AI), in terms of broad general intelligence, is more closer to Artificial Stupidity in that the brain sciences still have yet to accurately identify and explain what exactly intelligence actually is. Neuro-science is still in its elementary stages. – Hugo de Garis, Professor of computer science and mathematical physics at Xiamen University

00:47:40 What would happen if in 40 years Ray Kurzweil passes away and his predictions haven’t come true? He would be known for being right about some things, but the precursers of the technologies necessary for Ray Kurzweil’s idea of future technology to exist simply are not here today.

00:52:25 It’s an outrageous hypothesis to think humans will be able to maintain control over AI once it has been created and set free. Once AI has become 10,000 times smarter than humans, whose to say it doesn’t figure out a way to reprogram itself, or even humans? Or capable of communicating with aliens the next universe over?

00:53:42 The Artilect War (artificial intellect) coined by Hugo de Garis is the idea that these AI machines may wipe out humanity; there is always that risk. De Garis posits that sometime around the end of the 21st century there will be a war between two human groups: those who believe AI is important for the survival of the human race, and those who believe AI will lead to the extinction of the human race.

00:57:00 “I predict we will eventually arrive at the Terminator scenario: intelligent machines calling the shots while humans become some subservient slave. 

Consider humans as we are now, I don’t think the future is good. If you are a human after the singularity, forget it.

Once you link a human brain to a computer network, not only can you improve communication and sensory input, you can think in many more dimensions and have extra memory, of course.”Kevin Warwick, Professor at the University of Reading, UK who carried out several human implant experiments on himself.

00:59:50 “As we merge with machines, and I think it is inevitable that we will, we will transform into something new… Anyone resisting this progress forward will be resisting evolution, and fundamentally they will die out. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s inevitable.”  – Peter Diamandis, Chairman of The XPrize Foundation

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