ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind has just had an excellent programme on ‘the singularity‘, the idea that at some point in the future computer power will outstrip the ability of the human brain and then humanity will be better off in some sort of vague and unspecified way.
The idea, is of course, ludicrous and is based on a naive notion that intelligence can measured as a type of unitary ‘power’ which we can adequately compare between computer and humans. The discussion on All in the Mind is a solid critical exploration of this wildly left-field notion as well as the community from whence it comes.
It’s a popular theme among transhumanists who, despite seeming to have a mortal fear of human limitations, I quite like.
Transhumanists are like the eccentric uncle of the cognitive science community. Not the sort of eccentric uncle who gets drunk at family parties and makes inappropriate comments about your kid sister (that would be drug reps), but the sort that your disapproving parents thinks is a bit peculiar but is full of fascinating stories and interesting ideas.
They occasionally take themselves too seriously and it’s the sort of sci-fi philosophy that has few practical implications but it’s enormously good fun and is great for making you re-evaluate your assumptions.
By the way, there’s loads of extras on the AITM blog, so do check it out.