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Singularity Ramblings, Eddie in NYC

There's an interesting idea first proposed by the science fiction writer and computer science professor Vernor Vinge in a 1993 talk. Vinge pointed out that if we can make technological devices as intelligent as ourselves, then there seems to be no reason that these devices couldn't readily be made to run a bit faster and have a bit more memory so as to become more intelligent than people. And then — the real kicker — these superhuman machines might set to work designing still better machines, setting off a chain reaction of ever-more-powerful devices.



[Ceiling at the Metropolitan Opera. Transcendence.]

Contrarian that I am, I have some doubts about this. You need to get over two hurdles to make an AI Singularity of this kind. (a) Get programmable matter that thinks like we do, (b) Be able to speed up the computation. Usually people attack (a), but it occurs to me now that attacking (b) might be fun instead. In opposition to (b) is my new Wolframite belief that you can't actually speed up the computations that ordinary matter is doing. Nature is always and ever jamming at the max flop.



[Hiphoppers, 34th St. Subway stop. Friendly aliens.]

But suppose I get around this as follows: Imagine some new matter, doughy stuff in a super-entangled quantum synch with itself, some Silly Putty that “computes” much faster than at the standard rate.



[The secret machinery of the world, seen at a Pre-Dada art show in the Neu Galerie on Fifth Ave. at 86th.]

It's matter that “runs faster” than regular matter; it's, like, wattaflop matter as opposed to our normal petaflop matter.



[Veselka Ukranian restaurant 2nd Ave and ~9th St. Food lab.]

The other approach to singularitizing the mind is to wake up the hive-mind. Bring yourself into quantum synch by watching an opera together.



[Opera-goers: hive mind #17]

A related line of thought is is Seth Lloyd's article about black hole computers in the November, 2004, Scientific American, there's a similar article online. Throw some input in the form of physical garbage into a little black hole and watch the radiation come out — here's your encrypted output, mofo. Dzeent. “Ack, a hard rain of cosmic rays!”

Matter is computing itself at a very high rate. Is all of that going into “being intelligent”? Could we shift over some idle computation to be a thousand times smarter?



[Stop making sense.]

Tonight we saw our old friend Eddie Marritz. Eddie and us go way back, he helped inspire some of my stories and essays, see “Eddie” in, e.g. “Tales of Houdini,” “Drugs and Live Sex, NYC 1982” and Master of Space and Time.

Not that Eddie in real life is similar to the louche characters I depicted. It's more that I was hanging around with him when I had the ideas, and drew upon his physiognomy to help imagine the characters.

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