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P_StephensPaul Allen vs. Ray Kurzweil on the human/machine 'singularity'The singularity is defined as a tipping point where machine intelligence catches up with human intelligence. Ray Kurzweil believes that the rate of technological advancement is increasing exponentially and that we may reach the singularity somewhere around 2045. Paul Allen, Bill Gates’ co-founder in Microsoft, disagrees and thinks it’s a very long way off. He believes that the more we learn about the human mind the more vast and complex that knowledge will become, and the more difficult it will be to comprehend in its entirety and emulate. He refers to this as the “complexity brake”. I agree with Paul Allen completely. The reality of computer advancement is much slower than the perception of that advancement. Computers still process in simple binary bits, there’s just a lot more transistors now. Quantum computers promise a quantum leap in power but most of that promise is still just in the theoretical stage. Just look at how frustratingly slow progress in fusion energy has been. I think Ray Kurzweil underestimates the complexity of the human mind and overestimates the rate of technological progress. Sunday, October 16, 2011
11:28 AM

Comments (5)
JohnnyCNoteEmotionsFor many years I could never accept the idea of machines (i.e. computers, etc.) gaining sentience and their own consciousness. After much reading and thought I finally realized the answer was staring me in the face the whole time: emotions. What many proponents of the human/machine singularity tend to overlook is the fact that humans have emotions. Emotions are what make people irrational and defy logic. How can a machine be programmed to like the color blue, fear heights and crave chocolate? These emotions have nothing to do with rational thought and their source is somewhere else (at least in a different part of the brain). How can someone explain why s/he finds The Three Stooges to be hilarious but thoroughly dislikes Abbot and Costello? Or why does someone love football and hate baseball, and someone else dislikes all sports and prefers pro wrestling? It will take a very long time until a machine can achieve true emotions, if ever . . . Saturday, September 1, 2012
9:24 PM
PBWhuman/machine 'singularity'I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who thought the Singularity was far fetched. It’s an interesting thing to talk about but I agree with the other sentiments here. If you got there by inventing something that rapidly evolves by itself that’s a little scary to me! Thursday, October 27, 2011
2:08 PM
Bill_J62the singularityRay Kurzweil gets a lot of headlines with his predictions but nobody that I’ve talked to in the computer industry agrees with him. It would take a radical discovery that no one has heard of yet. Thursday, October 20, 2011
4:22 PM
DMcFarlandThe Singularity2045 is just 34 years from now. I don’t see it happening. Even sophisticated systems like Apple’s Siri voice recognition in the iPhone 4s is just a mathematical comparison of digital patterns. There isn’t any understanding of the semantics of the commands that the device receives. Monday, October 17, 2011
9:37 PM
DigitalHeadPaul Allen vs. Ray Kurzweil on singularityI read Paul Allen’s Technology Review article ( and he sounds like a voice of sanity on this subject. I think Kurzweil is confusing transistors with neurons. There’s no comparison. Current computers have no self-awareness or cognizance. They don’t really “think”, they just perform binary logic based on input and instruction code written by human intelligence. Monday, October 17, 2011
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