adactio / tags / book:author=vernor vinge

Tagged with “book:author=vernor vinge” (6)

  1. Vernor Vinge: What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen? - The Long Now

    Non-Singularity scenarios

    Vinge began by declaring that he still believes that a Singularity event in the next few decades is the most likely outcome— meaning that self-accelerating technologies will speed up to the point of so profound a transformation that the other side of it is unknowable.

    And this transformation will be driven by Artificial Intelligences (AIs) that, once they become self-educating and self-empowering, soar beyond human capacity with shocking suddenness.

    He added that he is not convinced by the fears of some that the AIs would exterminate humanity.

    He thinks they would be wise enough to keep us around as a fallback and backup— intelligences that can actually function without massive connectivity!

    (Later in the Q&A I asked him about the dangerous period when AI’s are smart enough to exterminate us but not yet wise enough to keep us around.

    How long would that period be?

    “About four hours,” said Vinge .)

    Since a Singularity makes long-term thinking impractical, Vinge was faced with the problem of how to say anything useful in a Seminar About Long-term Thinking, so he came up with a plausible set of scenarios that would be Singularity-free.

    He noted that they all require that we achieve no faster-than-light space travel.

    The overall non-Singularity condition he called “The Age of Failed Dreams.”

    The main driver is that software simply continues failing to keep pace with hardware improvements.

    One after another, enormous billion-dollar software projects simply do not run, as has already happened at the FBI, air traffic control, IRS, and many others.

    Some large automation projects fail catastrophically, with planes running into each.

    So hardware development eventually lags, and materials research lags, and no strong AI develops.

    To differentiate visually his three sub-scenarios, Vinge showed a graph ranging over the last 50,000 and next 50,000 years, with power (in maximum discrete sources) plotted against human populaton, on a log-log scale.

    Thus the curve begins at the lower left with human power of 0.3 kilowatts and under a hundred thousand population, curves up through steam engines with one megawatt of power and a billion population, up further to present plants generating 13 gigawatts.

    His first scenario was a bleak one called “A Return to MADness.”

    Driven by increasing environmental stress (that a Singularity might have cured), nations return to nuclear confrontation and policies of “Mutually Assured Destruction.”

    One “bad afternoon,” it all plays out, humanity blasts itself back to the Stone Age and then gradually dwindles to extinction.

    His next scenario was a best-case alternative named “The Golden Age,” where population stabilizes around 3 billion, and there is a peaceful ascent into “the long, good time.”

    Humanity catches on that the magic ingredient is education, and engages the full plasticity of the human psyche, empowered by hope, information, and communication.

    A widespread enlightened populism predominates, with the kind of tolerance and wise self-interest we see embodied already in Wikipedia.

    One policy imperative of this scenario would be a demand for research on “prolongevity”— “Young old people are good for the future of humanity.”

    Far from deadening progress, long-lived youthful old people would have a personal stake in the future reaching out for centuries, and would have personal perspective reaching back for centuries.

    The final scenario, which Vinge thought the most probable, he called “The Wheel of Time.”

    Catastrophes and recoveries of various amplitudes follow one another.

    Enduring heroes would be archaeologists and “software dumpster divers” who could recover lost tools and techniques.

    What should we do about the vulnerabilities in these non-Singularity scenarios?

    Vinge ’s main concern is that we are running only one, perilously narrow experiment on Earth.

    “The best hope for long-term survival is self-sufficient off-Earth settlements.”

    We need a real space program focussed on bringing down the cost of getting mass into space, instead of “the gold-plated sham” of present-day NASA.

    There is a common critique that there is no suitable place for humans elsewhere in the Solar System, and the stars are too far.

    “In the long now,” Vinge observed, “the stars are not too far.”

    (Note: Vinge’s detailed notes for this talk, and the graphs, may be found online at: http://rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge /longnow/index.htm ) —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02007/feb/15/what-if-the-singularity-does-not-happen/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization

    Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

    “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”

    Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.

    But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

    “I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

    That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

    “I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/03/vernor-vinge-geeks-guide-galaxy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization | Underwire | Wired.com

    Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

    “I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”

    Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.

    But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

    “I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

    That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

    “I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”

    http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/03/vernor-vinge-geeks-guide-galaxy/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. Vernor Vinge on Singularity 1 on 1: We Can Surpass the Wildest Dreams of Optimism

    Today my guest on Singularity 1 on 1 is Vernor Vinge — the very person who coined the technological singularity as a term.

    Currently Vernor Vinge is putting the final touches on the sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep. The new book is titled The Children of the Sky and is already available for pre-order on Amazon, though it is not expected to ship until October 2011.

    Despite his busy schedule Prof. Vinge still managed to give us over an hour of his time and during our conversation I ask him to discuss issues such as: his childhood and early interest in science fiction; his desire to make sense of the universe; his definition of the technological singularity and the story behind the term; his now classic 1993 NASA paper; his favorite science fiction books and authors; major milestones on the way towards the singularity and our chances to survive such an unprecedented event.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. An Interview with Vernor Vinge

    We talk to him about the Singularity — and how it may come from the superhuman "ensemble behavior" of ordinary humans with powerful computers linked via the Internet rather than through the development of superhuman artificial intelligence — about signposts indicating how we’re doing, about humanity’s prospects for utopia or extinction, and related minor issues. We also discussed writing science fiction (the secret, he says, is "brain parasitism," taking advantage of readers’ smarts), whether college is becoming obsolete, mind uploading, and the joys (or lack thereof) of virtual-reality sex, a question that perplexes Helen.

    via http://www.pajamasmedia.com/instapundit-archive/archives/029925.php

    —Huffduffed by adactio