Technology and the experience of what it means to be human are evolving at an exponential rate, entering the steep of an asymptotic curve. If we don't destroy ourselves first, it is likely in a few decades we may not even recognize ourselves as what we are today. Hang on, we're embarking on one helluva ride and the outcome is a real nail biter.
Here’s what happens. You are lying on an operating table, fully conscious, but rendered otherwise insensible, otherwise incapable of movement. A humanoid machine appears at your side, bowing to its task with ceremonial formality. With a brisk sequence of motions, the machine removes a large panel of bone from the rear of your cranium, before carefully laying its fingers, fine and delicate as a spider’s legs, on the viscid surface of your brain. You may be experiencing some misgivings about the procedure at this point. Put them aside, if you can.
You’re in pretty deep with this thing; there’s no backing out now. With their high-resolution microscopic receptors, the machine fingers scan the chemical structure of your brain, transferring the data to a powerful computer on the other side of the operating table. They are sinking further into your cerebral matter now, these fingers, scanning deeper and deeper layers of neurons, building a three-dimensional map of their endlessly complex interrelations, all the while creating code to model this activity in the computer’s hardware. As the work proceeds, another mechanical appendage – less delicate, less careful – removes the scanned material to a biological waste container for later disposal. This is material you will no longer be needing.
At some point, you become aware that you are no longer present in your body. You observe – with sadness, or horror, or detached curiosity – the diminishing spasms of that body on the operating table, the last useless convulsions of a discontinued meat.
Today’s extraordinary rate of exponential growth may do much more than just disrupt industries. It may actually give birth to a new species, reinventing humanity over the next 30 years.
I believe we’re rapidly heading towards a human-scale transformation, the next evolutionary step into what I call a “Meta-Intelligence,” a future in which we are all highly connected—brain to brain via the cloud—sharing thoughts, knowledge and actions. In this post, I’m investigating the driving forces behind such an evolutionary step, the historical pattern we are about to repeat, and the implications thereof.
Stop and think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. A neural computing system designed to translate content from one human language into another developed its own internal language to make the task more efficient. Without being told to do so. In a matter of weeks.
Azuma Hikari is a 58-cm hologram and virtual assistant created by Japanese tech company Gatebox that comes with a $2,600 price tag. Azuma is built with a machine learning algorithm that helps her recognize her "master's" voice, learn his sleeping habits, and send him messages through Gatebox's native chat app.
Ten to 15 years from now, hardware/software systems using those sorts of neuroheadsets could assist me by recognizing the nouns I've thought about in the past few minutes. If it replayed the topics of my recent thoughts, I could retrace my steps and remember what thought triggered my most recent thought.
With more sophistication, perhaps a writer could wear an inexpensive neuroheadset, imagine characters, an environment and their interactions. The computer could deliver the first draft of a short story, either as a text file or even as a video file showing the scenes and dialogue generated in the writer's mind.
"Evidence suggesting that our universe is tailor-made for habitable planets — ones that could reasonably support life — continues to pile up. And as humanity flings cosmos-observing technologies further into the sky, we’re developing a deeper appreciation of just how likely it is that life could have emerged anywhere.
So, why is our universe so void of activity when it seems suitable for beings who might create technologies like ours to emerge?
Many have speculated on the Fermi paradox, the name given to this head-scratching question, but last year I profiled one promising theory called the transcension hypothesis.
Proposed by futurist John Smart, the theory suggests that technological civilizations — and the Fermi paradox assumes there would be many by now — don’t colonize outer space (and thus flood the cosmos with signatures we could easily find). Instead, they move toward inner space by building vast digital realities on computers much smaller than we can detect."
For years now, scientists have been working to make cells into computers. It’s a logical goal; cells store information in something roughly approximating memory, they behave due to the strict, rules-based expression of programming in response to stimuli, and they can carry out operations with astonishing speed. Each cell contains enough physical complexity to theoretically be quite a powerful computing unit all on its own, but each is also small enough to pack by the millions into tiny physical spaces. With a fully realized ability to program cell behavior as reliably as we do computer behavior, there’s no telling what biological computing could accomplish.
Now, researchers from MIT have taken a step toward this possible future, with cellular machines that can perform simple computational operations and store, then recall, memory. In principle, they provide the sort of control we’d need to design and build real cellular computers, but they could just revolutionize cell biology long before that future comes about.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
If we humans will be able to soon turn cells and DNA into computers, then in the not too distant future it's likely we won't be able to tell life forms and computers apart. And it also begs the question, was life on this planet somehow created by another intelligent life form that figured out how to create computers in something that appears like biology, then program it for evolution and propagate it across the universe to see what it does? Oh yeah, and if that intelligent life form has evolved technology sufficiently to allow it to live forever by replicating itself across digital substrates and augmenting itself with artificial intelligence (both things that leading scientists and futurist think are entirely possible during the next centuries, if not decades) then that intelligence would definitely be able to follow, if not influence, the progress of its star-seeding experiment.
Musk said he thinks there’s a “one in billions” chance that we’re not living in a computer simulation right now, meaning Musk is a firm believer in the hypothesis that a super intelligent artificial intelligence created the universe as we know it.
"There’s a one in billions chance we’re in base reality" “The strongest argument for us being in a simulation, probably being in a simulation is the following: 40 years ago, we had pong, two rectangles and a dot,” Musk said. “That is what games were. Now 40 years later we have photorealistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality, if you assume any rate of improvement at all, the games will become indistinguishable from reality.”
Google Image search, instead of returning photos it indexed from millions of sites, could take a query and based on what it knows about good photography and you, build an entire new photo from scratch that would perfectly match your request. Instead of searching for a photo, it would create it.
The thought experiment driving the evolution and development of this idea for over 8 years is: “if I were a sentient entity at the scale of our planet, what would I need in order to become functionally self-aware?” the subtext to that inquiry is, “what evidence, if anything, is there which points to the possibility that a higher order entity (existing governments, ngo’s and corporations not withstanding) may be emerging from the sum of human interactions?”
In my last post, I added more future scenarios to this visual describing the complexity and impact of our emerging future. The one piece left unfinished was the expansion of innovation accelerators to include emerging and future accelerators.
Scientists say it's possible to build a new type of self-replicating computer that replaces silicon chips with processors made from DNA molecules, and it would be faster than any other form of computer ever proposed - even quantum computers.
Called a nondeterministic universal Turing machine (NUTM), it's predicted that the technology could execute all possible algorithms at once by taking advantage of DNA's ability to replicate almost perfect copies of itself over billions of years.
The basic idea is that our current electronic computers are based on a finite number of silicon chips, and we're fast approaching the limit for how many we can actually fit in our machines.
To address this limitation, researchers are currently working on making quantum computers a reality - super-powerful devices that replace the bits of electronic computers with quantum-entangled particles called qubits.
Unlike regular bits that can only take on the form of 1 or 0 in the binary code, qubits can take the form of 0, 1, or a superposition of the two simultaneously, which allows them to perform many different calculations at once.
Here’s how the system works: The tiny implant, about the size of a baby aspirin, is inserted into the motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for voluntary movement. The implant’s array of electrodes record electrical signals from neurons that “fire” as the person thinks of making a motion like moving their right hand—even if they’re paralyzed and can’t actually move it. The BrainGate decoding software interprets the signal and converts it into a command for the computer cursor.
I believe we’re rapidly heading towards a human-scale transformation, the next evolutionary step into what I call a “Meta-Intelligence,” a future in which we are all highly connected—brain to brain via the cloud—sharing thoughts, knowledge and actions.
Researchers have developed an AI system testing a small subset of pictures and was able to predict criminality with an 89.5 percent accuracy. Such technology brings up some ethical and legal questions about its application, joining a long list of concerns AI raises in general.
Humanity took a step forward into that future recently, when Israeli scientists revealed that they’ve developed a new type of brain-machine interface, which for the first time has allowed a human operator to control a nanobot implanted inside the body of a living creature (in this case a cockroach), simply by using his thoughts.
We are talking about the implications of intelligence that can make refinements to itself over a time-course that bears no relationship as to what we experience as apes. We are talking about a system that can make changes to its own source code to become better and better at learning and more and more knowledgeable and, if we give it access to the Internet, it has instantaneous access to all human and machine knowledge. It does thousands of years of work every day of our lives--thousands of years of equivalent human intellectual work. Our intuitions completely falter to capture how immensely powerful such a system would be and there is no reason to think this isn't possible.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
One of the most expertly articulated pieces I've listened to or read about the sobering implications of the super-intelligence black hole we're hurtling into.
Soon, you can control a computer screen with just your eyes. Eyefluence, a Silicon Valley-based startup, is working on a technology for hands-free navigation using augmented reality glasses. The glasses are equipped with cameras that can assess where you’re looking at any given time and users can click on icons with a glance.
"The nanostructures exhibit properties similar to biological synapses. Using newly developed technology, the memristors were integrated in matrices: in the future this technology may be used to design computers that function similar to biological neural networks."
A team of psychology and computer engineering professors at Binghamton University was able to successfully match test subjects to their uniquely identifying brain waves—or, brainprints—with 100 percent accuracy.
What the study’s authors discovered was each person’s brain wave responses to the visual stimuli were unique enough to identify them by—very much like fingerprints or DNA.
It’s not illogical to wonder, then, how brainprints can and will be used to surveil citizens outside of the lab.
What if we could harness the power of the human brain by using actual brain cells to power the next generation of computers? As crazy as it sounds, that’s exactly what neuroscientist Osh Agabi is building. Koniku, Agabi’s startup, has developed a prototype 64-neuron silicon chip. Their first application? A drone that can smell explosives. read more
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.