Transcendence

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Having watched the film Transcendence recently I thought I’d use this opportunity to write a bit more about how the singularity might come about and how it might look like.

I have a bit of a problem (to say the least) with the film’s overarching anti-technology stance. Then again, the Luddites in the film are terrorists who aren’t above killing humans for, well, preventing machines from killing humans. I suppose logic and reason have never been strong points of terrorists, both in fiction and real life.

The most intriguing aspect Transcendence broaches is the question of how we can give rise to a singularity event in a way that’s amenable and beneficial for human beings and mankind as a whole. How do we design intelligent machines so that they not only don’t annihilate mankind but are also conducive to humanity’s progress and future well-being? In other words, how do we ease mankind into a strange new world whose conditions and parameters are suddenly vastly different from what we’re used to? How do we preserve free will and freedom? These are pivotal questions we’ll have to answer in the next decades – come what may.

Another important and somewhat related idea – suggested by Max Waters, the protagonist’s colleague – is this: The way towards strong AI and the achievements made alongside this way are much more important than the actual goal.

What we learn along the road might help us solve humanity’s most urgent issues as well as improve our everyday lives (just think of the potential of tools such as Google Now and Siri or technologies like autonomous self-driving cars) so it’s an undertaking worth the effort.

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