October 1, 2002

October 2002

I was honoured when the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence asked me to make a statement. Here's what I had to say about the SIAI's efforts:

Human technological evolution stands at the threshold of revolution; by virtue of this, so too does all of humanity. At some point this century, perhaps in the next fifty years, our machines will start to exhibit accelerating greater-than-human intelligence. The broader ramifications of this ‘singularity’ are as sweeping as they are unfathomable. That we are on the verge of potential radical positive change is unquestionable; that we should not stand idle and wait like bystanders to see if it happens is equally unquestionable. As Alan Kay once said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence is engaged in the most significant foresight and planning activity that I am aware of. While the greater part of academia and the so-called intelligentsia sleepwalks through this critical time in history, SIAI is actively working to not only predict the implications of superintelligent AI, but to proactively manage and guide its development towards desirable directions. Years from now we will be grateful for their efforts, and I sleep easier at night knowing there is at least one group critically and responsibly examining these issues.

Have Feminists Forsaken the Future?
Conservative bioethicists are using women's rights as a facade for removing reproductive freedoms. Few women's advocates seem to notice.

Transhumanism: The Next Great Threat to Oppression and Inequality
Transhumanism doesn't threaten human dignity, as Wesley J. Smith argues in National Review Online, but is the logical next step for civil liberties.

The International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID) recently published a philosophical theory by Christopher Langan on the nature of reality. Called the Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe (CTMU), Langan boldly posits an astounding 'theory of everything' that brings together complexity, information, design, computational, and observation theories. In his paper he writes: "Inasmuch as science is observational or perceptual in nature, the goal of providing a scientific model and mechanism for the evolution of complex systems requires a supporting theory of reality of which perception itself is the model (or theory-to-universe mapping)." Information, argues Langan, is the "abstract currency of perception" and a theory of everything must explain how "reflexive self-processing" achieves a self-contained description of reality. Langan writes: "Consider the universe as a completely evolved perceptual system, including all of the perceptions that will ultimately comprise it. We cannot know all of those perceptions specifically, but to the extent that they are interactively connected, we can refer to them en masse." In his paper's abstract, he describes his theory as a supertautological reality-theoretic extension of logic: "Uniting the theory of reality with an advanced form of computational language theory, the CTMU describes reality as a Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language or SCSPL, a reflexive intrinsic language characterized not only by self-reference and recursive self-definition, but full self-configuration and self-execution (reflexive read-write functionality).

Langan is also arguing an Intelligent Design theory, claiming that a scientific model supporting ID is long overdue. This paper has the potential to be quite an attention grabber. Once I have the chance to read the entire paper I'll have more to say...unless of course it makes my brain explode -- talk about your challenging read; Langan has an IQ of 195, which only occurs in one in a billion births!!