The Singularity

For all of you, who like this author, somehow completely missed The Big Event: the world has slipped quietly into the age of the Singularity

It was only because a February issue of TIME caught my eye, that I was brought to task about this potentially radical departure from what we historically have known forever as the Human Era. And after reading the article, researching some other sources, combined with some of my own soul searching, what ultimately makes this so compelling, fascinating, daunting and haunting, is not only is there a good chance we will all literally become this movement, but we will, and are now, the architects of our own demise – at least for awhile anyway.

Apparently,there is an emerging organization afoot – the Singularitarians – that give a fairly persuasive argument that not only will computers be able to replicate the total human thinking process, but these new breed of super computers could, in the not to distant  future, decide we are an archaic phenomenon that needs to be redone, rebooted, replaced, or simply deleted if you will – therefore putting to bed the final phase of the human Information Age. 

Many of you might of thought that AI represented artificial insemination, but you will be forced to modify your vocabulary, although one could argue that Artificial Intelligence, the new AI, could be portrayed as eventually not being all that far away from the original.

The author, culprit and figurehead for this movement is Raymond Kurzweil, who I’m afraid looks to be a good deal smarter than not only the average “Joe” on the street, but most likely 99.9% of the rest of us. His visions move way beyond the linear cognitive thinking that most of us are cursed with, into the world of exponential growth and curves. For those of us math-challenged that means everything moves in multiples of two with doubling times that increase rates of change to an unimaginable degree.

An example from Kurzweil will help: the average cell phone today is about a millionth the size of, a millionth the price of, and a thousand times more powerful than the computer he had at MIT 40 years ago! Does that start to get your attention? 

If not this will: he predicts that by 2015 computer power will accelerate past the brain of a mouse, by 2023 it will accelerate past the brainpower of a single human, and by 2045 will exceed all the brainpower of everyone on earth. You should now be fully awake. 

Want more? How about being functionally immortal. Just scan, implant, inseminate your conscious being into an ultra-intelligent Cyborg and you have just played God. Kurzweil believes that there are people alive today who will most likely not be bothered with the angst and frustrations of aging and death. Everything can and will be translated and transformed into the mind-twisting world of mega-digital AI.

My guess is that all those corporate “suits” or “torn Levis and Crocks”, if you will, from Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are taking this a little bit more serious than you are at the moment. Want to bet whether Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg have picked up the check for lunch with Raymond Kurzweil in the last few months? I’m going to guess that the AI champion also knows his way around both Silicon Valley and Wall Street pretty darn well, and all the digital and financial moguls are listening when he enters the room.

But before you start shouting with glee and giving a huge sigh of relief at your fortunate rondevous with destiny, there are just a couple of things to be considered before breaking out the champagne and caviar. If Kurzweil’s predictions seem somewhat feasible to you, and his impeccable credentials and previous endeavors look, shall we say, spectacular: 

  • Do you really think we (they) are going to need nine billion human beings on the planet in 2045?

If he is correct, we will, over the next years and decades, slowly but dramatically become the most downsized and unwelcome flotsam inhabiting this world. 

Other than eventually being the laughing stock of the Cyborg generation for allowing the world of AI to drive us to the point where we have created our own self-devouring machines, what possible scenario do we fit into? Absolutely none, because we have let ourselves become so vulnerable to digital imperialism that technology has evolved into our surrogate economic, political and spiritual master. In essence, it is our only hope for our day to day necessities, while promising a future for us that seems less and less clear as more time passes.

Now, I know there are those out there thinking:

Yea, but that will never happen! We’re too smart, too dominate to let technology overwhelm us. We would never let something like that control our lives, be completely dependent on an automated economy, let a corporate culture so easily manipulate our every moves with their message of mindless materialism, and then knowingly participate in the wounding and destruction of our ecosystem until circumstances drive us to the point of no return.

Well doubters, I would only say to you: Look around for God’s sake! 

Kurzweil, as brilliant a visionary as he is, will not and cannot save us. Technology is written, as much as human history is written. It is a Pandora’s Box. We have breached its warnings, and any attempts at this late date to return those lessons are unrealistic and impossible for a slew of reasons.

What is not written though is the pace of technology. Technology has always been driven by numbers, those numbers being you and me and everyone else. Our population numbers have moved, and will continue to do so, in direct proportion to the many stages of mankind’s development, including the Information Age and beyond. The basis for all major changes in the world’s civilizations has been the advent and miraculous development of technology, driven hand-in-hand by dramatically increasing populations. 

Unfortunately, we have moved from cultivating technology with all its labor saving benefits, medical wizardry and whiz-bang creations, to being totally dependent on it. But we could make a significant difference by slowing the demand for more and more of this increasingly omnipotent science. That is something we can do, and that would slow the spiraling momentum of our destiny. We would be foolish and shortsighted not to control demand by choosing to reduce population pressures and realize more time for contemplation and introspection. 

  • Raymond Kurweil could be wrong, but if he is right we are moving into a world that would have been inconceivable just a decade ago
  • And that world could very possibly be one that does not include us  
  • So keep in mind we may be no-shows at any future celebrations, at least not in any form we would recognize today 

The problem is not simply that the Singularity represents the passing of humankind from center stage, but that it contradicts our most deeply held notions of being.

Vernor Vinge

 Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

Thanks to Author: Lev Grossman – TIME: February 21,2011

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Battlestar Galactica to Groundhog Day

At first look it would seem there could be no more two incongruous films than Battlestar Galactica and Groundhog Day!

One, A Melodramatic Look Into the Future and Past 

A lost, nuked human race, pursued by their own man-made attackers rockets away from the vestiges of their doomed planet, all the while searching endlessly for a new home in the not too friendly outreaches of intergalactic space.

The Cylon War is long over, yet we must not forget the reasons why so many sacrificed so much in the cause of freedom. The cost of wearing the uniform can be high, but… sometimes it’s too high. You know, when we fought the Cylons, we did it to save ourselves from extinction. But we never answered the question “Why?” Why are we as a people worth saving? We still commit murder because of greed and spite, jealousy, and we still visit all of our sins upon our children. We refuse to accept the responsibility for anything that we’ve done, like we did with the Cylons. We decided to play God, create life. And when that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn’t our fault, not really. You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.

Commander William Adama Battlestar Galactica

The Other, A Comedy of Sorts 

A silly Pennsylvania tradition is frozen in time while a weatherman plays out his existence, returning to the same day after day monotony, until he recognizes, understands and transforms his many character flaws, and his life no longer remains on hold.


Phil: What if there were no tomorrow?

Gus: No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!

Phil: [thinking] That’s true. We could do…whatever we wanted.

Phil: Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

Groundhog Day

 Lessons and Consequences of Choices

Today, the films combine to reveal abject lessons as our planet struggles badly with its own future:

  • We are constantly driven by huge ever increasing populations
  • Completely dependent on technology for our survival 
  • The unmitigated failure to learn from the mistakes of the past
  • Blinded by the misery that surrounds us
  • Too trapped by fear and the unkown to change our ways 
  • And the chances for survival precariously slip away as each day passes

There is a ruthless naivete and irony by the remaining fifty thousand survivors of the Galactic ship’s crew and supporting flotilla:

  • They curse and blame the dogged enemy
  • They justify and defend themselves against the onslaught of Cylon robots and human hybrids
  • Those Cylons were created to ply the work that the human race decided was either beneath or beyond them

Like the computer HAL in 2001-A Space Odyssey, which was designed to support wider human exploration, and then transcends that purpose to control and dictate to its creators much more than was ever imagined.

Once we finally give our destiny and our very existence to technology alone, the soul and spirit of mankind dwindles into a meaningless darkness, the same darkness from which we have most likely emerged so many times before, either here on this planet or other places in the universe.

Redux Again

Whether one fictional character is entrenched in a 24 hour cycle or it is a race of humans mucking away in another one million year cycle, it is the same mendacity and sense of superiority that prevails and guarantees our downfall.  

So there is a collision of minds between Battlestar and Groundhog. Together, in a most unlikely tandem, they warn us again that as our numbers increase and we are compelled to turn to technology for our very survival, we must also face the consequences of that pact.

Therefore, when the machines of technology once again destroy, replace or drive us from this venerable and endangered environment, and those who survive begin their quest for yet another sanctuary, there is nothing left to blame but ourselves.

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Mankind In Transition

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.

General Omar Nelson Bradley

The Struggle of Biological Man and Technological Man

Biological mankind, in a relatively stable environment for over a million years, is finding the contemporary pace of emerging  technologies a test for everything that we have known before.

  • All of mankind’s biological history has little to do with present digital information based lifestyles
  • Fifty years is a genetic and instinctual minute compared to the previous million years
  • It will be many centuries before our primordial nature fully adapts to the realities of ever-changing technology economies

So we are not simply 21st century beings, but a complex compilation of thousands of centuries, blended into behaviors we all exhibit today.

Consequently, the pace of our technology transformation is out of sync with mankind’s traditional capabilities.

The Results of Consumer Technology and Expanding Populations

  • Violence: A national symbol of American culture
  • Crime Rates: An urban nightmare
  • Prisons: If not for cost we couldn’t build them fast enough
  • Mental Hospitals: Crowded warehouses for discarded lives
  • Fear-Anger-Neurosis-Anxiety-Depression-Virtual Reality: You name it, we got it
  • Detached-Solitary-Impersonal Lives: Hiding behind Televisions, Computers, Smart Phones
  • Children Having Children: The only thing they know

We are out of balance, out of touch with the classical relationship we have had with our environment, and therefore, with each other.

We know technology can have many benefits, but there is a growing awareness that the benefits, if left unchecked, may control our lives in ways we are not fully able to comprehend yet.

The Old Triangle

Life forms on earth emerged because three separate elements of the environment (air, land, and water) produced conditions which were necessary for sustaining and developing new life systems.

Man is a product of adapting to the natural world, which shaped both his physical characteristics and his emotional and intellectual development.

For eons, an ancient triangle existed which represented man’s dependent relationship on the three basic elements. It was man’s precarious link to existence, a link which controlled his life and dictated his daily routine.

The New Triangle

The points on the old triangle, are being involuntarily reshuffled into one unified point. The other two points have now been replaced by powerful forces which are incrementally changing traditional biological relationships of the distant past.

  • The Environment
  • Mankind
  • Technology

The environment then is no longer the singular engine of this planet, but part of a troika pulling the train of life.

It is a serpentine trail wandering through time in a perpetual state of change, unsure of its destination, but moving steadily away from the roots of mankind’s existence.

Some believe technology is the new savior, a priceless discovery to be nurtured and developed until it finally reveals all its great secrets, and we will finally be free from the environment’s primordial, dependent relationship.

Technology is predicted to be the great liberator of human toil and misery, a super-renaissance in the ongoing development of our existence on this planet and beyond.

Remembering the Past: Fight or Flee Instincts

From past history, combined with the lessons of more recent events, it is questionable whether mankind is prepared for the journey.

If we are both lucky and smart we will continue our march through time.

Surely we can alter and control the acceleration and ultimate velocity of our travels, and it may be prudent and timely to do so.

Without fully considering all the possible ramifications, the journey for many in the past has been and could be for most of us in the future one of ongoing terror and violent conflicts.

We still remain more biologically suited to searching for food with fight or flee instincts, rather than pondering and adapting to technological and population forces racing to new levels beyond our wildest dreams.


Image Credit: Technology and Evolution

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Technology And Evolution

  • Technology, the ever changing marvel we know today, slowly evolved over many thousands of years beginning with the most humblest of mankind’s attempts to make our lives less burdensome, more secure and somewhat meaningful.
  • The first small groups and tribes utilized primitive hunting and gathering techniques
  • Human life was very brief and unimaginably uncomfortable compared to any contemporary standards
  • They were almost totally dependent on the environmental forces that controlled and dictated everyday survival

Tech-nol-o-gy: 1.  The application of science, esp. in industry or commerce.   2.  The methods and materials thus used.

The American Heritage Dictionary


The Evolution of Information


Over hundreds of centuries, cycles of nature became more familiar and less mysterious. More advanced groups of people were able to use information more efficiently that was passed down from one generation to the next.

  • Agriculture slowly evolved out of the wandering lifestyles of our early ancestors
  • Language and writing skills were developed in the Agricultural Era
  • Information was finally recorded, at first in slower more cumbersomeways, and later through the Printing Press

The Industrial Age Awakens

But it was not until approximately the 16th century, and the introduction of industrial technology and machines, that mankind was able to effectively store, process, and utilize information through extensive libraries, education, and research facilities. More economies were demanding labor-saving devices which meant faster and cheaper ways of producing things. Math, science and machines were integrated to provide the requirements necessary for growing manufacturing industries and their greater rates of production.

  • Education accelerated the pace of information and the rise of universities, which became intellectual sanctuaries
  • By the 19th century powered printing presses quickly disseminated research and development
  • And by the 20th century education and information were the engines of societies dominated by machine technology

The Great Leap to Digital Access

The Industrial Age is now in transition to an even more advanced level of technology.  The Digital Revolution has in a very short period of time changed our civilization forever. It is the era of access. Information is so accessible through the use of computers, that it has in essence increased the potential scope of democracy.

Electronic impulses  translate information into units of energy which can then be collected and stored digitally and used by everyone.

The computer does not discriminate. It only follows commands, delivering information to the operator, rich or poor, male or female.  Information has lost much of its privileged status, it is universal, and its limitations are mainly what the operator brings to the computer.

Information is the Product

  • Information has always been an integral part of mankind’s evolutionary progress through time
  • Every new step in our political, economic and social evolution has been based on compiling information
  • But now information has reached the point where it is not only the means to develop and manufacture products, but the ability to access and store information is the major product and service provided

Freedom or Failure

Some futurists are predicting the emerging electronic era to be the beginning of the final step in man’s technological evolution.  The tools of the future will continue to be more complex computers, and when computers are universally adopted by all countries and individuals the world states will reach a state of relative parity.  Information will be immediately available to everyone for problem solving, research and daily activities.   Many futurists even predict that with universal access to information, everyone will be substantially equal, freed by technology from traditional economic, political, and social restrictions.


For many others though, it is not so clear how steadily increasing populations, still struggling to adapt to the cumulative changes of the past two thousand years, will be any more successful. Especially, when we are constantly bombarded by the unrelenting pace of future technology and unending information.


  • Certainly there are those who have and will continue to readily adapt to any digital scenario
  • But there will be many others who will struggle with new hi-tech lifestyles, dominated by impersonal and uncaring computers
  • There is an ever widening gap between the well paid, highly skilled, computer literate elite, and the technically unskilled, who are therefore relegated to lower paying jobs, restricted mobility and an uncertain future



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Geo-Engineering: Salvation or Threat

If you are digging yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging!


We should all  be astounded by the article in the July/August  2009 issue of The Atlantic magazine.  Graeme Wood in his article, Moving Heaven And Earth, summarizes and correctly wonders about our collective sanity when we begin to truly give credence to the newest buzz word in the world of global warming, Geo-Engineering. 

Geo-Engineering!  What you may ask is that? 

Well here are some snippets and quotations from Graeme Wood which may help resolve some of your questions, if not your credibility.

Humans have been aggressively transforming the planet for more than 200 years. The Nobel Prize–winning atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen—one of the first cheerleaders for investigating the gas-the-planet strategy—recently argued that geologists should refer to the past two centuries as the “anthropocene” period. In that time, humans have reshaped about half of the Earth’s surface. We have dictated what plants grow and where. We’ve pocked and deformed the Earth’s crust with mines and wells, and we’ve commandeered a huge fraction of its freshwater supply for our own purposes. What is new is the idea that we might want to deform the Earth intentionally, as a way to engineer the planet either back into its pre-industrial state, or into some improved third state.

Certainly Paul Crutzen has it right reflecting on the last 200 years and mankind’s immense impact on the planet, but the last sentence is the one that takes on a more sinister aspect. The author goes on.

Large-scale projects that aim to accomplish this go by the name “geo-engineering,” and they constitute some of the most innovative and dangerous ideas being considered today to combat climate change. Some scientists see geo-engineering as a last-ditch option to prevent us from cooking the planet to death. Others fear that it could have unforeseen—and possibly catastrophic—consequences. What many agree on, however, is that the technology necessary to reshape the climate is so powerful, and so easily implemented, that the world must decide how to govern its use before the wrong nation—or even the wrong individual—starts to change the climate all on its own.

Does this sound a lot like the post WWII warnings about nuclear proliferation? And we all know how successful we have been with that policy after decades of other countries joining the now not-so-exclusive club. You may also be wondering about the altruistic intentions of say North Korea and Iran. 

A Sample of Geo-Engineering Proposals

We all know global warming is an issue that threatens all of us, but what does this Geo-Engineering science  propose to allay the gathering threat? Well, below is a short list:

  • Dragging propellers behind 1500 ships so the resultant spray will form more clouds
  • Shoot Frisbee-size ceramic disks-800,000 every 5 minutes for 10 years to reflect the sun
  • Sulfur-aerosol injection: Pumping sulfur dioxide from factories to Zeppelins at  65000 ft, basically causing smog and blocking the sun-this is referred to as the Blade Runner solution.
  • “Carbon-eating trees” that would decay into topsoil creating carbon traps
  • Building-size structures to filter and trap carbon chemically. Then pump the carbon (major greenhouse gas) back into the ground
  • Huge Plankton gardens on the surface of the seas to ingest carbon and trap it at the bottom of the oceans

Potential Blow-back

And apparently every country, that can afford it of course and has the technology, can be undertaking their own program(s) of choice.  Never mind that the blow-back from any of the above could be catastrophic in its own right. 

Has everyone forgotten there is only ONE atmosphere, no backups here!

But what should be somewhat disturbing to all of the doubters is the author’s own response and concluding paragraph.

We should keep such images in mind. And they should remind us that, one way or another, a prolonged love affair with carbon dioxide will end disastrously. A pessimist might judge geo-engineering so risky that the cure would be worse than the disease. But a sober optimist might see it as the biggest and most terrifying insurance policy humanity might buy—one that pays out so meagerly, and in such foul currency, that we’d better ensure we never need it. In other words, we should keep investigating geo-engineering solutions, but make quite clear to the public that most of them are so dreadful that they should scare the living daylights out of even a Greenfinger.

Graeme Wood goes on in the last sentence of his concluding remarks to make what seems a somewhat understated solution.

In this way, the colossal dangers inherent in geo-engineering could become its chief advantage. A premonition of a future that looks like Blade Runner, with skies dominated by a ruddy smog that’s our only defense against mass flooding and famine, with sunshades in space and a frothy bloom of plankton wreathing the Antarctic, could finally horrify the public into greener living. Perhaps a Prius doesn’t sound so bad, when a zeppelin is the alternative.

Reduce Populations Rather Than a Zeppelin

You are to be applauded for your warnings and insight, but is that it Graeme? A Prius instead of a Zeppelin! That’s our only choice?

Well, if that is our only solution than we are truly doomed to a Blade Runner scenario, even with the help of everyone driving a Prius. 

Doesn’t it make more sense  to make some logical choices now so that Geo-Engineering becomes pointless, and can be left to all the “smart people” drinking way too much coffee down at Starbucks?  

Where is the real source of the  problem? The problem is not the symptom global warming. The root cause is too many people continually creating and feeding the conditions for global warming.

Back to Basics: We Are the Problem

Let’s quit mincing words and refusing to deal with reality. If we are going to doom ourselves to Zeppelins and Frisbees let’s at least be honest about the whole thing, we are the problem. 

There is an expanding  industry materializing around the global warming issue. That is most likely the motivation for the Geo-Engineering scenarios. 

Again, as always, we have to follow the money, and there isn’t a whole lot of money for Wall Street in reducing populations, so unfortunately expanding populations, growth economies and now Geo-Engineering will still try to rule the day.


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