Future dullard

And I probably won’t be alone in that classification, either:

The whole concept of the Singularity is centered on that moment when “intelligent” machines become intelligent self aware machines able to take control of their own destinies. At that point, on the bell curve of cognitive ability (intelligence) every single human alive will be relegated to the lowest of the left-hand (hopeless dumbass) side of the curve, and the machines will take up permanent occupancy of the rest of that real estate.

Every year, IQs a few points higher than the year before are shifted over to the left hand side, and those already there pushed further down. The Singularity Point is estimated as being from 17 years hence (2030, Vernor Vinge, the creator of the concept) to 2045 (Ray Kurzweil, its most prominent current apostle), to never (many naysayers).

I admit to having my doubts about the whole concept, but then I look around me and see smart people getting dumber, and dumb people getting dumber still, and I wonder: what else is there that could be causing this? High-fructose corn syrup? The Rothschilds? CNN? We’re on the brink of something, and while I’m tolerably bright, I suppose, I don’t think I can keep up with a machine that never gets tired and doesn’t need input from me anyway.


  1. McGehee »

    5 May 2013 · 8:52 am

    I think never, because no matter how sophisticated a machine can potentially be, it’s a tool. Tools need to be operated, even if the operator’s role is merely to point at the job and say, “Do it.”

    There is no reason why a machine should have free will, because — as we’ve all discussed at length by now, free will does not make a tool more useful, but less.

  2. Bill Quick »

    5 May 2013 · 11:59 am

    McGehee, there is no discernible difference between the “tool” that is the brain, and a tool that is a thinking machine. At the atomic and sub-atomic levels, both are nothing more than patterns and arrangements.

  3. Bill Quick »

    5 May 2013 · 12:01 pm

    Chaz, I don’t think the issue is that humans are getting dumber – there isn’t much real evidence for that proposition, and the direction of evolution would seem to mitigate against it in the first place.

    The real issue is the relative one between human and machine intelligence: Are humans becoming dumber in relation to machines? I don’t think there is much doubt of it.

  4. McGehee »

    5 May 2013 · 3:19 pm

    Fact remains, the development path that leads to machines being able to tell their operators “bite me” is the path that reduces the machine’s utility.

    Ergo, no sound reason to go down that path.

  5. McGehee »

    5 May 2013 · 3:32 pm

    The Singularity talk always puts me in mind of the Underpants Gnomes’ business plan:

    1. We design more and more complex machines and become more and more dependent on them.

    2. ???

    3. SKYNET!

    Nobody seems able to explain how the leap to self-awareness is supposed to happen.

  6. Lynn »

    6 May 2013 · 7:51 am

    It’s simple, really. Dumb people tend to have more children while intelligent people are too busy doing intelligent things to bother with procreating.

  7. Lynn »

    6 May 2013 · 7:57 am

    The Singularity though? I think it’s more likely that we’ll go down a path similar to what H.G. Wells suggested in The Time Machine.

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