[FoRK] [Fwd: [tt] US Congress Says Nano is "Coming Sooner Than You Think, " Predicts Singularity]

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Fri Mar 30 12:10:29 PDT 2007

  A friend of mine (Danila Medvedev) likes to point out--

  A lot of time, global sweeping changes happen, and, for all the
  praise from experts, the litany by and large hardly bats an eye,
  except perhaps to complain.

  (I'm using the language of Causal Layered Analysis:
  http://www.communitywiki.org/en/CausalLayeredAnalysis )

  For example, cell phones.
  Another example: Pay-at-the-pump gas stations.

  Both swept (at least the United States) in under 10 years,
  and yet received hardly any notice in popular press,
  except for an occasional complaint, here and there.  There
  was nothing, in big letters, proclaiming: "THE CELL PHONE

  The more analytically oriented papers wrote things about
  "Wow, this is amazing, our society is changing," but the
  discourse in my mom and dad's paper was on the order of:
  "Could you turn your cell phone down? Thx."


On 3/30/07, Brian Atkins <brian at posthuman.com> wrote:
> Nice timing, this - gives me more ammo to battle fork deniers :-)
> I try to avoid any specific dates, especially after reading about how experts
> are highly wrong when attempting to give specific predictions, even ones with
> wide intervals. However, as long as computer power continues to increase, and
> understanding of the brain (intelligence) increases, we are headed in the
> direction of all this. You should care less about specific dates, and much more
> about what might happen when it does eventually at some point arrive.
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [tt] US Congress Says Nano is "Coming Sooner Than You Think,   " Predicts
> Singularity
> Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 11:08:13 -0400
> From: Hughes, James J. <James.Hughes at trincoll.edu>
> To: <tt at postbiota.org>, "News and views from the IEET" <ieet-news at ieet.org>
> US Congress Says Nano is "Coming Sooner Than You Think," Predicts
> Singularity
> http://www.house.gov/jec/publications/110/nanotechnology_03-22-07.pdf
> (Hat tip to Chris Peterson)
> The Joint Economic Committee of the US House of Representatives has just
> issued a report titled "Nanotechnology: The Future is Coming Sooner Than
> You Think"
>      Abstract: Enhanced abilities to understand and manipulate matter at
> the molecular and atomic levels promise a wave of significant new
> technologies over the next five decades. Dramatic breakthroughs will
> occur in diverse areas such as medicine, communications, computing,
> energy, and robotics. These changes will generate large amounts of
> wealth and force wrenching changes in existing markets and institutions.
> This paper discusses the range of sciences currently covered by
> nanotechnology. It begins with a description of what nanotechnology is
> and how it relates to previous scientific advances. It then describes
> the most likely future development of different technologies in a
> variety of fields. The paper also reviews the government's current
> nanotechnology policy and makes some suggestions for improvement.
>      ...
>      The Singularity (2020 and beyond)
>      Every exponential curve eventually reaches a point where the growth
> rate becomes almost infinite. This point is often called the
> Singularity. If technology continues to advance at exponential rates,
> what happens after 2020? Technology is likely to continue, but at this
> stage some observers forecast a period at which scientific advances
> aggressively assume their own momentum and accelerate at unprecedented
> levels, enabling products that today seem like science fiction. Beyond
> the Singularity, human society is incomparably different from what it is
> today. Several assumptions seem
>      to drive predictions of a Singularity14. The first is that continued
> material demands and competitive pressures will continue to drive
> technology forward. Second, at some point artificial intelligence
> advances to a point where computers enhance and accelerate scientific
> discovery and technological change. In other words, intelligent machines
> start to produce discoveries that are too complex for humans. Finally,
> there is an assumption that solutions to most of today's problems
> including material scarcity, human health, and environmental degradation
> can be solved by technology, if not by us, then by the computers we
> eventually develop.
>      Whether or not one believes in the Singularity, it is difficult to
> overestimate nanotechnology's likely implications for society. For one
> thing, advances in just the last five years have proceeded much faster
> than even the best experts had predicted. Looking forward, science is
> likely to continue outrunning expectations, at least in the mediumterm.
> Although science may advance rapidly, technology and daily life are
> likely to change at a much slower pace for several reasons. First, it
> takes time for scientific discoveries to become embedded into new
> products, especially when the market for those products is uncertain.
> Second, both individuals and institutions can exhibit a great deal of
> resistance to change. Because new technology often requires significant
> organizational change and cost in order to have its full effect, this
> can delay the social impact of new discoveries. For example, computer
> technology did not have a noticeable effect on economic productivity
> until it became widely integrated into business offices and, ultimately,
> business processes. It took firms over a decade to go from replacing the
> typewriters in their office pools to rearranging their entire supply
> chains to take advantage of the Internet. Although some firms adopted
> new technologies rapidly, others, lagged far behind.
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> --
> Brian Atkins
> Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
> http://www.singinst.org/
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