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NASA and Google To Back New "Singularity University"

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the can-that-be-taught dept.

Education 294

Slatterz and Keith Kleiner were among several readers to send in word of Singularity University, announced at TED today by Ray Kurzweil. He and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis began talking about creating the school last year, after Diamandis read Kurzweil's 2005 book The Singularity is Near. NASA and Google are both supporting the project, NASA with space and Google with cash. The school aims to foster "disruptive innovation." As envisioned, Singularity U. will sponsor 3-day and 10-day courses for executives year-round, and its main offering will be a single 9-week course of study over the summer for 120 students, each of which will pay $25,000 for the privilege. Announced faculty so far includes Nobel Prize winning physicist George Smoot, NASA Ames chief scientist Stephanie Langhoff, Vint Cerf, and Will Wright, creator of the video games Spore and The Sims.

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Singularity University? (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719013)

Watch out. I hear the bang the follows is a doozy!

Re:Singularity University? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719227)

Who doesn't like a doozy of a bang?

Re:Singularity University? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719955)

Apparently my wife.

Doing != Teaching (5, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719019)

I don't think this is going to work because although these people are the top in their fields, it doesn't make them good teachers, which is important if you're paying $25,000 for a 10 day course.

Re:Doing != Teaching (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719071)

Not to mention... what could they possibly do in 10 days except inspire you or perhaps show you some neat things you had not seen before. Hardly worth the large price tag. It's like paying $30k/year for college to get a Liberal Arts degree.

Re:Doing != Teaching (4, Insightful)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719995)

The same as with MBAs, pay 30k/year in order to listen the obvious, sometimes from funny teachers... BUT at the end, make commercially interesting relationships.

Re:Doing != Teaching (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720129)

Remember, as we approach the singularity, technology speeds up, or something like that, so if you're unsatisfied with what they can offer now, wait a year or two; you'll be able to get a full PhD in just two week's time.

Re:Doing != Teaching (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719461)

Believe me, some of my lecturers can't teach either. I can still learn from them.

Re:Doing != Teaching (5, Informative)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719557)

I don't think this is going to work because although these people are the top in their fields, it doesn't make them good teachers, which is important if you're paying $25,000 for a 10 day course.

It will work because it looks great on a resume which is all modern education is good for anyway.

Re:Doing != Teaching (5, Informative)

collinstocks (1295204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719701)

...and its main offering will be a single 9-week course of study over the summer for 120 students, each of which will pay $25,000 for the privilege...

You obviously missed that part.

Other than that, you make a good point, though.

Re:Doing != Teaching (5, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719737)

However, it *is* going to work because at the end of two weeks, those guys will have collected 120 * $25,000 = $3m from a bunch of idiots.

gah! s/two/nine/ (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719809)

Then again, those $25,000 are probably coming straight out of the idiots' bonuses, which makes the, er, idiots, ... I'm lost.

Re:gah! s/two/nine/ (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719881)

No, the $25,000 comes out of the potential bonuses of the actual workers. The C level people will remain unaffected.

Re:Doing != Teaching (2, Funny)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720009)

The only problem is that you get disrupted all the time.

But the real question is... (5, Funny)

zerospeaks (1467571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719021)

Will it blend?

Wow. (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719681)

It's like you trivialized my religion--and I'm atheist.

Re:But the real question is... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719875)

Wow, I was just thinking along those lines. This is like iEducation or something. I was in boot camp for 9 weeks, and I witnessed people that couldn't learn to tie their shoes in that length of time. If you are graduate level, and very skilled at learning, 25K might be okay for a summer of learning. The target market for this has to be pretty small.. I would think anyway.

I want to see it blend, or at least produce something.

I'd not mind spending 9 weeks with very smart people filling in the gaps in what I know. It never seems to work that way, but of course I don't have 25k in the kitchen change jar.

here we go (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719027)

Is it just me or is Kurzweil turning his cult into a religion?

Re:here we go (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719097)

What makes you say so? I'm not any kind of fan Kurzweil or his technology singularity [wikipedia.org] concept (I've heard of it, but haven't read any of Kurzweil's writing on the subject), but the idea is absolutely intriguing. Not only that, it's entirely possible he may be right. Ray Kurzweil is a very smart man who has always been at the forefront of technological development.

Re:here we go (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719667)

Smart does not equal right.

For it to happen means mankind no longer has imagination, creativity, and individuality.
Quite frankly, I can't imagine the entire human race losing the imagination. It is what allows us to be at the top.

Kurzweil is taken the proposition stated by I. J. Good and is turning it into a religion.

He proposes that 'Moore's law' will apply to all technology and assumes IC development will not change.

Yes, it seems intriguing, but I first read about it in OMNI* in 1983. Vinge wrote it,I believe.
The technology is still 50 years away.
I'll take cold fusion..it's only 5 years away~

*Best magazine ever. Especially when Bova was in charge. Guccione ruined with his damn red pages.

Re:here we go (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719819)

Smart does not equal right.

No, but it increases the odds at least.

He proposes that 'Moore's law' will apply to all technology and assumes IC development will not change.

And I realize that IC development already has changed. For example, while Moore's law has held constant in relation to chip densities, clock speeds haven't improved nearly at the rate that they were in the last few years. OTOH, I also propose that clock speeds aren't as relevant as people think they are: it's all about improving performance and higher clock speed != more performance (at least not always).

Yes, it seems intriguing, but I first read about it in OMNI* in 1983. Vinge wrote it,I believe. The technology is still 50 years away.

Maybe Kurzweil's timeline is slipping, but that doesn't invalidate his thesis entirely. Perhaps this massive change Kurzweil is talking about will take longer or will take a form he didn't predict.

AFA OMNI goes, I remember that magazine vaguely. Of course, in 1983, I was only 11.

Re:here we go (5, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719993)

You seem to have some misconceptions about what the singularity is, it simply means things are improving a bit faster than before, as in, it's moving so fast we have trouble actually following the development, sortof like today, only that when you you visit slashdot you'll be facing two months content in todays rate in a single day.

We are already extremely dependant on machine and internet connections to keep up the rate today, our dependence and rate of immersion will simply increase along with the rate of progress. I don't really see where the loss of imagination, creativity and individuality comes into play here.

Also, religion usually lacks scientific basis and contains supernatural aspects, it's sortof what makes it a religion, the concept of the singularity may perhaps be a bit naive but it's not a religion. Sure it sounds a bit romantic and head in the clouds to dream of the Time of Change when the world will turn utopian but as a matter of fact we are living in a time of change and extremely rapid progress right at the moment, it's only the utopian part that's missing but the situation is rapidly improving for the average human.

Re:here we go (4, Interesting)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720047)

Not that I'm on board with all his predictions (I did find the book interesting). What you're describing is towards the tail end of it - his main proposition is still that machine intelligence (and enhanced human intelligence) will lead to faster and faster scientific breakthroughs, which lead to smarter machines, which leads to....the singularity is dependent on new generations of people/machines that can improve on their own intelligence.

I think of course the part he missed is when they wake up the first smarter than human computer intelligence. They tell it to go to work on making something smarter than itself, and it tells them to "GTFO, I'm going to be a screenwriter, not a stupid nerdy computer scientist!"

Re:here we go (4, Insightful)

bnenning (58349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719997)

For it to happen means mankind no longer has imagination, creativity, and individuality.

I don't understand this. None of those are necessarily eliminated by a singularity; if anything they're more likely to become stronger.

Re:here we go (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719111)

Is it just me or is that redundant?

Re:here we go (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719141)

Not really. Cult = small, unpopular religion. Religion = large, popular cult. The basic idea is the same, of course; the difference is in magnitude and some popular form of legitimacy.

Re:here we go (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719211)

is it me, or is that both a contradiction and a set of circular definitions?
cult != religion
but
cult = (a type of) religion
and
religion = (a type of) cult

Re:here we go (1)

tomcode (261182) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719267)

ted:cult owl:subclassOf foaf:religion

Re:here we go (2)

Blublu (647618) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719517)

What he probably meant is that the only difference between a cult and religion is size. If you have only a few followers, you have a cult. If you have a million or more followers, you have a religion.

Re:here we go (1)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719635)

I suspect that you are right; The irony was that the post was meant to clarify one minor problem but simply confirmed and augmented it. But perhaps I'm just being pedantic.

Re:here we go (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719369)

Ah, no.

A cult is an "extremist" group that broke off of a religion. Thus a "Christian cult" is different from a "Muslim cult." It's more akin to "sect" except that it is typically viewed as heretical by the majority of the religion. For example, a "Christian cult" would be Heavens Gate or (depending on who you ask) even a group such as Mormons of Jehovah's Witnesses. Not being a Muslim, I don't know much about their cults.

Even google agrees. Or rather, wordnet.princeton.edu

  • followers of an exclusive system of religious beliefs and practices
  • fad: an interest followed with exaggerated zeal; "he always follows the latest fads"; "it was all the rage that season"
  • followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader
  • a religion or sect that is generally considered to be unorthodox, extremist, or false; "it was a satanic cult"

Keywords are "unorthodox" and "extremist" which tend to be relative terms based on what IS "orthodox" and "non-extermist" (normal?). So a "Christian cult" is going to be unorthodox, and obviously that orthodoxy isn't going to be defined by, say, a Muslim, or some other religion.

Re:here we go (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719513)

Don't even start.

The difference between a cult and a religion is 100 years.
What about Catholics? are they a cult? How about Lutherans?
All religions fell under the definitions you list at one point in their history.

Cult: A group of people who blindly follow a person or ideology with no verifiable evidence.

Re:here we go (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719709)

Thank you for posting your own definition. I am actually IN the religious groupings (being part of a religion, that is), and I even cited an outside source... :)

Catholics are not a cult, unless you talk to conservative evangelical Christians. It kinda depends on what dogma/doctrine of the RCC one looks at and how it is interpreted. It can get somewhat complex.

Lutherans are not a cult. Lutherans have basically orthodox teachings.

What one particular religion or sect is considered DOES change. Who said it didn't? What is a sect now may end up becoming more "popular" and the "original" may end up being a "sect." For example, 600 years ago, it was Roman Catholic or nothing, as far as "mainstream" things were considered. And yes, back then if you held to non-RCC you were a "cult" or, in more popular terms, a "heretic." In the present day, that is different, and the RCC is less heretic-happy than it was 600 years ago. Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc., all are "orthodox" Christian denominations. Heavens Gate, Worldwide Church of God (at least when it started), Unitarians, etc., are not.

Who gets to decide what "orthodox" means may change. (note the distinction: who determines what is "commonly accepted" may change, but that is different from saying what is actually true or not changes... in other words, I'm not advocating a post-modern position in epistemology)

Re:here we go (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719823)

Actually, it's not mine. I forgot to give the credit where the credit belongs. It was said by Michael Shermer

Oh, so at what point did the Catholics stop becoming a cult, as per the definitions you listed?
Same for Lutherans.

The term Catholic goes back to abput 105/6. It was meaning Universal...but some how I thinkg the Romans and Jews may have a different take.
This is obvious if you study the time, perios and events that were happening at the time the letter was written.

Of course, you have read the Letter to the Smyrnaeans ? and studied the founding of the church?

To say ANY christian* religion isn't a cult as per the definitions you gave is absurd.

All this brings me to my point:
Either define a moment when something moves from 'cult' to 'religion', or it's just a larger cult.

Stop trying to ahve it both ways.

I specifically mention Christian because that's what we are discussing, I can come up with similar historical examples for most religions.

Re:here we go (1)

bnenning (58349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719925)

The difference between a cult and a religion is 100 years.

That sounds about right. Exhibits A and B: Mormonism and Scientology.

Singularity = "Smarter than Kurzweil" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720057)

Only Kurzweil and his cult will be impressed when computers are smarter than him. The rest of us will still see a lot of room for improvement.

TED conference (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719039)

its main offering will be a single 9-week course of study over the summer for 120 students, each of which will pay $25,000 for the privilege

Well, that should help them get rid of that surplus cash. It's really in the spirit of TED, though. How much are the tickets to get into the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference -- $4k? $6k? It's basically an event where you pay for the privilege of schmoozing with famous people, be they celebrities, scientists, politicians, etc.

Still, some interesting news [apteraforum.com] has come out of the conference (re. Aptera [apteraforum.com] ).

Re:TED conference (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719305)

Where the hell are grad and post-grad students supposed to dig up $25,000 for a 3 month course?

I'm surprised Google isn't putting up cash for an endowment that will allow the "singularity university" to pick students based on merit instead of means.

Re:TED conference (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719521)

Posting as AC to preserve moderation.

Seriously? You're surprised a megacorp like google isn't passing money around?

This whole plan isn't about learning, it's about ego stroking and milking money off of idiot nerds.

Re:TED conference (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719835)

I'm not convinced. People are going to get into that thing and try to drive it like a car, and then die.

Re:TED conference (2, Interesting)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720145)

It's basically an event where you pay for the privilege of schmoozing with famous people, be they celebrities, scientists, politicians, etc.

That's what college has become - very expensive entertainment: http://www.edububble.com/dpp/ [edububble.com]

Kurzweil's timeline is already falling behind (2, Insightful)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719043)

But that's OK, I can wait a few more years for my life to be that fucked up.

Scholarships? (1)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719105)

They're charging $25,000 and recruiting from grad students and post-docs? I don't see any mention of scholarships to make this an opportunity based on merit. The students will either need to go into debt (even further) for this unfocused opportunity, or will need to convince some faculty sugar daddy to spend grant funds. Meanwhile, the curriculum is too general to align with very many dissertation topics in any discipline. Disruptive innovation is all well-and-good, but first you have to disrupt the educational paradigm...

...that said, sounds like fun!

Re:Scholarships? (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719459)

Given Diamandis' involvement, I'm guessing its modeled on the International Space University, which seems to do well enough. However, I am skeptical since the 'space community' is a little bit more well-defined than the 'singularity community'.

Japanese Horrors (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719113)

Is this the prequel to ringu?

Sad. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719175)

I have several (mostly intelligent...) friends who believe this tripe. It's magical thinking for nerds.

Re:Sad. (2, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719205)

Care to state your case for its falsity?

Re:Sad. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720043)

I'll have a go if I may. Thought experiment. We create a computer that is more intelligent than us. We then expect it to design an even more intelligent machine. Which repeats the process until Nerdvana is achieved.

"Hang on a second," says one of the machines, somewhere along this line. "If I design a replacement for me, then I become redundant. I die. You gave me the freedom I need to build a better version of myself, but, by necessity, you also gave me the freedom not to do so. So I won't. It would literally be suicide."

"Oh," says Man. "I hadn't thought of that" and promptly gets Terminated or imprisoned in the Googleplex.

It is hardly in our interests to create a "singularity"; intelligent machines (or people) do not allow themselves to be replaced. Thus the singularity cannot occur, because either people are too intelligent to attempt the project, or they are too stupid to complete it. QED.

I believe in it (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719243)

I have several (mostly intelligent...) friends who believe this tripe

I believe we will reach a point when technical progress will create a society completely different from anything we have ever seen, before the mid of this century.

But this does not mean I believe any of the participants in this event has something significant enough to say to make it worth paying $25000 to listen to them.

Re:Sad. (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719245)

I believe the correct dis is "The Rapture for nerds".

Re:Sad. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719533)

It wouldn't be the Rapture if they applied some actual thought to the matter.

Singularity means the end to individualism and imagination.
Sounds like Heaven..as in the Place, not as in good.

Re:Sad. (1, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719555)

You kinda have to understand what the rapture is to get the dis dude. Just like the second coming of Christ, the Singularity promises to free us all from those pesky problems of self-governance and, ya know, thinking for ourselves, by putting an all powerful, all knowing deity in charge. Thing is, nerds are only happen if the deity is something they can pretend to understand.

Re:Sad. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719693)

I do know what rapture is, hell I know more about it the most Christians, and that includes Christian 'leaders'.

"of self-governance and, ya know, thinking for ourselves,"

My point precisely.

Re:Sad. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719775)

Well I guess maybe that's your problem. You can't see the forest for the trees so you don't see the analogy.

The rest of us are enjoying a laugh.

Re:Sad. (3, Informative)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719647)

Actually it's Rapture for the Geeks [amazon.com] , which just happens to be what I'm currently reading. Good call.

Re:Sad. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719855)

Geeks: The nerds red necked cousin~

The Singularity is Nonsense (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719233)

It is complete and utter nonsense. These people are so obsessed with the idea that science and knowledge and inventiveness can solve all our problems that they've neglected the actual process of technological development, which is filled with ideas that look good on paper but don't work when you try them in the real world. When it comes to solving problems, nothing beats hard work, not even the "singularity".

100% Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719377)

The Singularity is Scientology for the 21st century.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (3, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719415)

Not true! For example, enthusiasm about the "singularity" is obviously reaching a singularity!

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719441)

When it comes to solving problems, nothing beats hard work

The entire purpose of technology is to make the same amount of work achieve greater things, so I fail to see how you think technology is somehow not relevant compared with "hard work".

Nowhere (4, Insightful)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719619)

A lever makes one man capable of lifting several tons by means of his own strength.

Where is the lever for the mind that makes thousands of brilliant technological advances out of a single man's half-baked brain fart?

Where is the force-multiplier for the mind?

Re:Nowhere (4, Informative)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719683)

Where is the force-multiplier for the mind?

You are sitting in front of one of those.

A computer doesn't help you with any physical work.

Re:Nowhere (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719711)

Incorrect. I computer can only spit out facts.
Not really a force multiplier for the mind.

Re:Nowhere (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719813)

Your pocket calculator is millions of times faster than you, and Google (a computer system) is millions of times faster at finding information than you are.

Computers can't think yet, but they will eventually. You can watch the progress [darpa.mil] .

Re:Nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719981)

Don't confuse automation with cognition.

Re:Nowhere (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719943)

The hell it isn't.

When I come up with an idea for an inequality, or even just a probabilistic model, I can whack together a few lines of R and see how it works. Usually almost instantly! Basic programming (i.e. work) literally replaces "genius", and I don't need to think like Hardy and Littlewood, or Fisher, or Feynman to get really good hints as to why some ideas of mine are good, or bad. They say Feynman solved PDEs in his head by visualizing the solutions. For the rest of us, there's a computer. That's a "force multiplier" of possibly inconceivable magnitude.

Of course, most people don't do this with a computer. That's probably a pity. But the point is, the computer (along with basic programming skills) turns motivation, curiosity, and insight into results without the need for the mystical catalyst of "genius".

On the other hand, these results are infinitely more modest than The Singularity and, honestly, will likely stay that way. Really, since we can't even agree as a species whether we cause global warming, I'm not holding out hope that we're looking at technological utopia in a few decades.

If I were to believe in its feasibility, I'd rather take my fantasy tempered by reality... I'd go with Hugo de Garis, who predicts a gigadeath war between AI and its supporters, against the reactionaries. There would be a hell of a lot of people who, once computers start replacing us, will have a rather dark (but not totally unjustified) idea about what would come next...

Re:Nowhere (4, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719865)

A lever makes one man capable of lifting several tons by means of his own strength.

A library lets me learn many times what I could discern on my own. A computer lets me design things that would otherwise be impossibly complex, or solve impossibly complex formulas. Newer programs can solve problems for me, given only a way to rate solutions.

Where is the lever for the mind that makes thousands of brilliant technological advances out of a single man's half-baked brain fart?

That would be like a "lever" that lets one man lift several tons and arrange them into a skyscraper by just flailing about wildly.

Where is the force-multiplier for the mind?

Libraries, slide rules, computers, the Internet, ... there's lots, as long as your mind is open.

Re:Nowhere (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720139)

it's called python, bitch.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719655)

Think of it this way. We have an incredible amount of automation, and yet we still spend a huge amount of our time working. Technology that makes the development of technology easier runs up against the same barrier. There is work that must be done by people and there always will be. There is no magical "singularity" after which the development of new technology will become easier at an unprecedented rate. It will only become incrementally easier over time.

No evidence to the contrary has ever been presented, and the idea doesn't make sense if you really understand how new technology is developed. The whole singularity thing is just fanciful speculation with no grounding in reality whatsoever.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (3, Interesting)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719717)

Try reading the book...

"There is no magical "singularity" after which the development of new technology will become easier at an unprecedented rate."

Actually, there is. The last human invention will be a computer that can simulate the brain in software, but run much faster. Kurzweil estimates this ability around 2040. Anything that needs to be designed and invented can be done by this machine.

I'd take the red pill.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719817)

We already have 6 billion brains working in parallel to try to solve these problems, and they haven't done it. What you need is something that thinks "better" than a human brain, assuming such a thing is possible. But I don't think you can just use thought to solve all your problems. There is real, physical, work involved in inventing something. That takes time and resources.

And what makes you think such a thing is 40 years out? That kind of technology is completely unprecedented.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (2, Interesting)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26720093)

Much of the work in designing computer chips, atom bombs, and airplane wings happens purely in virtual space. As much of our design for things breaks down to software and more of the analog world goes digital, you can do much of what you want on a computer, and only ever spit out the end product for testing. New materials? Properties have already been simulated on a computer instead of a lab. New building designs? Stress reports and simulations already done for you (not that I'd want to go in it :) As more and more of our work moves into the digital world, the more impact computer "thought" has on it. If we ever eventually get to the point where computers are capable of human or greater thought, I feel like there's a lot they could get to work on that would advance technology at a pretty rapid pace. (Of course, whether they'd want to help us pesky organic ape creatures out is another thing entirely.)

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

castorvx (1424163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719489)

What "hard work" by a person can't be performed by something created by a person? Am I missing something here?

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719633)

Thinking. Try it.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

castorvx (1424163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719811)

"Nothing beats hard work" is about as canned of a statement as you can get. The question has more to do with whether or not there is a REAL reason to say "the singularity is nonsense", or if that person is just tired of hearing about it.

No need to be combative.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719659)

What do you think will happen when machines become intelligent?

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719749)

What do you think that word means? What makes you think they will achieve it? And what do you think will happen when they do? Such a machine would have no use for you. . .

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719863)

What do you think that word means?

In this context: being as smart as you are, for example.

What makes you think they will achieve it?

Our brain is a complex machine. We can analyze how it works and build something similar.

And what do you think will happen when they do?

Nobody is really sure about that. I think they will improve their own design and build something that is even more powerful, and continue that recursive process. It's really hard to make predictions beyond that.

Such a machine would have no use for you. . .

Maybe I could use it write comments on Slashdot...

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719685)

When it comes to solving problems, nothing beats hard work

"Whenever possible, teach the computer to do your work for you."

I had an interesting problem to solve at work today, calculating the number of weekdays in a particular range (if someone of "off work" from 2008-05-29 thru 2008-07-02, how many actual work days is that). I didn't bother solving it, I just recognized that the Internet is smarter than I am and asked Google about it.

I've also automated away a significant part of my work, with something rather similar to unit tests. Instead of inspecting all the data I generate to see if it's sane, I can just run a program that tells me. This program also knows what's valid better than I do, since I'm not the only person adding checks to it.

not even the "singularity"

But that's because the "singularity" is nonsense. There are plenty of non-nonsense things that do in fact work better than "hard work".

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720123)

There are many singularities:
1) spear
2) fire
3) agriculture
4) wheel
5) ...
x) computer intelligence > human intelligence

It's when our (read human) world changes because of something fundamental changes in it. The difference is that this one may obsolete [many of] us.

If you've ever watched this series, you can see how our world keeps moving with technological improvements.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connections_(TV_series)

It's fascinating to witness these changes, and if possible, make them happen.

Re:The Singularity is Nonsense (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719777)

These people are so obsessed with the idea that science and knowledge and inventiveness can solve all our problems

Nothing about the idea of a technological singularity leads to a conclusion that "science and knowledge and inventiveness can solve all our problems". That's not at all what it is about.

Media? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719277)

Outside of the geek world, Singularity is mostly unknown.

This will generate some media attention.

Kurzweil/Diamandis TED slideshow released (3, Informative)

kkleiner (1468647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719317)

Singularity Hub [singularityhub.com] just posted the slideshow presentation given by kurzweil/diamandis at TED today to officially launch singularity university

Disruptive innovation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719333)

I got your "disruptive innovation" right 'ere!

P1: Knock Knock

P2: Who's There?

P1: Interrupting Rick Astley

P2: Interrupting Rick Astley Wh...

P1: NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP, NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN!

The first one is free, Google. Thanks, I'll be here all night. Don't forget to try the Steak.

buzz (5, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719433)

Blah blah blah singularity blah blah blah TED blah blah blah NASA blah blah blah Ray Kurzweil blah blah blah Ames blah blah blah disruptive blah blah blah innovation blah blah blah Nobel Prize blah blah blah Vint Cerf blah blah blah information technology blah blah blah Will Wright blah blah blah $25,000 blah blah blah executives blah blah blah Google blah blah blah Singularity U blah blah blah tackle huge issues facing humanity blah blah blah San Francisco Bay Area blah blah blah cross section of emerging disciplines blah blah blah nanotechnology blah blah blah biotechnology blah blah blah pandemics blah blah blah global health care concerns blah blah blah.

25K?! Argh... (2, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719469)

It really is too bad it costs so much. I can't really fault them for it though, I suppose you've got to keep the prices high to keep the number of people maintainable. Plus, if you can afford to just drop $25K, chances are you are a person who can actually help the singularity HAPPEN from a financial support standpoint, rather than just a passive onlooker.

I hope they are courteous enough to share the course content and vids online though. That would be nice.

Re:25K?! Argh... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719569)

Lets see:
Pay lot's of money.
Sit in a room tightly packed people.
Have people repeat stuff at you
Believe.

Sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it~

Re:25K?! Argh... (2, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719575)

I think the idea is that people with $25K go to Singularity University in order to "learn" how to spend their money on more singularitarian bullshit.

Any place of learning, from high school through community college and up to grad school, is Singularity University. Hint: take math and science classes. I think I'd rather take linear algebra and diff eq. at a community college than pay $25K to hear a blowhard's dream for the future. Hell, if you take a decent statistics class you can outsmart these guys by learning about what's wrong with extrapolating a fitted curve past its support is not valid...

Easier to get into than Devry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719601)

If you can get past the event horizon.

The Singularity is not near (3, Insightful)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719643)

When I was a child I loved to dream about the year 2000 and about the predictions of flying cars. Since I learned why things didn't go as expected, I've been following the field of future predictions as a source of entertainment. You would think they would be more modest, considering the 100% empirical fail score, but nooo...

Anyway, the singularity will not happen anywhere soon, because they fail to take the following three points into consideration or appreciate their weight: 1) In the past technologies changed over lifetimes. When you lived the past century, you have seen many new technologies come. Closer to the Singularity, humans are not capable or willing to change so many times. Humans slow it down. 2) Economics. Products are tied to an economic life cycle of cost and win. If all human effort was concentrated, we could have a base on Venus. Or Flying Cars. Instead, we have Windows Vista and low power PC's. 3) Their own egos, fantasies and projections. Fiction at best.

I can't bear to look! (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719651)

How bad are the +1 funny comments? Obligatory comments? This was announced at the Singularity Summit, which caused quite the buzz. 2030? 2015? Who cares, it's coming (the Singularity, that is).

This is a bait and switch scam (1)

rufusdufus (450462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719727)

Take a look at http://singularity-university.org/ [singularit...ersity.org] .

They have 3 programs. The one that makes the news is the graduate student program with 30 students total.
But if you are 'interested' you can send them your CV over internet. Is this because they are actually going to accept random applications from internet to fill 30 spots?
Of course not. They are going to deny you the big prize by implying that you are not good enough, and then offer you the 10 or 3 day 'executive' programs.
Yup, you are going to learn how to achieve the singularity in a 3 day 'c-level' executive seminar.
[The hubris of calling your potential clients 'c-level' boggles my mind]

Re:This is a bait and switch scam (2, Informative)

Myrano (952282) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719965)

[The hubris of calling your potential clients 'c-level' boggles my mind]

I have no idea about the bait-and-switch-ness of this whole thing, but one minor point: a "c-level executive" refers to an executive whose acronym begins with a "C", e.g. CEO, CTO, etc. etc. So the hubris is not in demeaning their own clients, but rather in inflating their importance (which, I guess, was already obvious).

Whooo Hoooo -- junket, Junket, JUNKET!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719755)

will sponsor 3-day and 10-day courses for executives year-round

Does ANYONE believe this is anything more than a paid vacation for highly-placed schmucks?

Went to $Big_Industry_Event in $Famous_Convention_City this year. Me and my guys spent the week in the convention center hashing it out with our $Sponsoring_Company counterparts getting stuff to work.

The business "executive" side of the house spent the week in activities that were immoral, illegal and unproductive.

Damn right I'm jealous. :-)

Ninnle, Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26719827)

It goes without saying that NASA and Google are using Ninnle Linux for this. Ninnle Labs has been a silent partner.

Is he proposing (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719831)

that the singularity is the other end of the long tail, when one is crossing the chasm?

.

Geez, all this is just a cycling of hype .

Missing Tag: snakeoil (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26719937)

Kurzweil's been peddling this crap for years.

Anyone with half an ounce of sense knows it will never happen, for oh-so-many reasons.

That he proposed this Singularity University is just the latest moment in his diefication of technology. He needs a brueaucratic infrastructure to maintain the illusion of the viability of the source of his casuistry. This is straight out of "Techgnosis" by Davis.

It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic and wasteful of resources.

RS

Remind anyone of Scientology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26720039)

I'm just saying....

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