Stories tagged artificial_intelligence

A website that offered users help in filing for bankruptcy was found by a court to be making too many legal decisions to simply be considered a clerical tool. The site's creator was found guilty of practising law without a lisence and fined.


Our understanding of how things work increases every year. This increased understanding has led to ever improving technologies. When improved technology increases our ability to learn, the resulting accelleration of our intelligence approaches infinity.
Humans have an upper limit on the size and speed of their brains. Not so for machines. If machines can be programmed to learn, then machines can create a smarter machines. The smarter machine could then create an even smarter machine, etc. The result eventually leads to an intelligence that could undoubtedly solve all our problems. Global warming, disease, famine, and warfare could all be cured by such an "infinite" intelligence.

A Singularity Summit

These concepts and other mind boggling ideas were presented at the Singularity Summit at Stanford University last week. The first speaker was Ray Kurzweil, whos recent 672-page book, The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology explains a concept known as the "singularity".

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of singularity, here is the elevator pitch:

Sometime in the next few years or decades, humanity will become capable of surpassing the upper limit on intelligence that has held since the rise of the human species. We will become capable of technologically creating smarter-than-human intelligence, perhaps through enhancement of the human brain, direct links between computers and the brain, or Artificial Intelligence. This event is called the "Singularity" by analogy with the singularity at the center of a black hole - just as our current model of physics breaks down when it attempts to describe the center of a black hole, our model of the future breaks down once the future contains smarter-than-human minds. Since technology is the product of cognition, the Singularity is an effect that snowballs once it occurs - the first smart minds can create smarter minds, and smarter minds can produce still smarter minds. —Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Douglas Hofstader followed Kurzweil, offering his critique of the Singularity. Hostader, professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science Adjunct Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and Psychology at the University of Indiana and the author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, doesn't buy into the whole Singularity vision.

The purpose of life

I strongly recommend exploring this "Singularity" concept. I first came across it several years ago when I went to "Ask Jeeves" with my question "What is the purpose of life"? Jeeves recommended contributing to the "seed program" effort to create a "learning how to learn program" that would insure that when machines became super intelligent they would still take care of humans.

More Singualrity links: