Formless wrote:Well then, what specifically is he claiming?
His primary focus is the claimed upcoming Singularity, which I'm sure you're familiar with. His claims no doubt sound as absurd as any description of our technology and society would be to someone from two centuries ago.
The key difference is he's projecting we're at/just reaching the elbow point of a exponential curve of progress. The latest batch of newest/superior technology gets turned onto itself to improve and produce even better versions, so we're living in an era where we're seeing this exponential growth right in front of our eyes. I'd think you're observing it as well.
I honestly can't ignore this reality, all I have to do is look around. In my lifetime, we went from simplistic rotary phones to iphones. In just the past couple of years the new shit that pops every year makes my jaw drop (my local electronics stores are now selling 3D TVs...it's nuts).
That technology in general is growing at an exponential rate? Well sure, in some sectors certainly, but at the cost of increasing environmental damage and resource depletion.
Problems exist and there is no disputing that. What I dispute is any notion these probems are insurmountable or would take ridiculously excessive amounts of time to address based on current technological progress.
Will we fuck it all up and lose everything? I certainly don't dismiss that possibility, but I'm not going to go get depressed about it either. There's reason to be quite optimistic in my opinon.
As for your comment about 'some sectors', those sectors not showing exponential growth patterns are either in their infancy and/or just entering into the information sector, which is the kick starter for exponential growth and progress. That's one of the reasons biology is becoming quite exciting; it only very recently entered into the modern information age. It's not a coincidence we're starting to hear about new biology developments every other week now.
Limiting factors that can slow growth in a measurable fashion. If we really want to look at history, we should look at all of history; and doing so we see multiple examples of whole civilizations, even relatively technologically advanced ones, falling prey to simple issues like that (the romans, the myans, etc.).
Except all those previous civilizations were magnitudes more primitive than we currently are, and our advancement is still increasing exponentially.
But you're quite correct, we should look at all of history and you failed your own suggestion (:wink:). You focused on human civilizations, which is just a tiny fraction of history. Exponential growth, complexity and returns is a ongoing trend throughout the planet's history, and Ray Kurzweil points this out. He also points out your claim of problems like world wars, depressions, enviromental concerns, etc. And yet this exponential growth pattern remains practically unaffected.
Then the question becomes "can you find a viable alternative technology to replace the old technology?" If you can't, you can't continue exponential growth. The limiting factors are still there, new technology only postpones when we will hit them.
Based on everything I've read about (say) computing, we're no where close to hitting a limit just yet. Current chip designs are still two dimensional in operation and utilizing the third dimension is being rapidly worked on. Along with additional design concepts like more efficient chip architechure, more efficient power usage, multi core designs, breaking away from unicore programming concepts, etc.
Computer physicists and designers point out molecular construction science indicates building computers at that scale would result in machines magnitudes superior and smaller to our current ones. Then there's Quantum Mechanics and who knows what else we'll discover between now and then.
Are there limits? I can't fathom why there wouldn't be, but I think it's just a little bit arrogant and presumptous to think we've hit them already.