Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Is Not Buying The Singularity
    By Hank Campbell | October 14th 2011 12:06 PM | 5 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Paul Allen knows a thing or two about computers; he built the company that is the definition of the operating system for modern PCs.

    He's as optimistic about the power of technology and its ability to shape culture as anyone can be but, like us, he is more skeptical that it will translate into actual human evolution.  Like us, he notes that Ray Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns is just an optimistic black box based on a 'law', like Moore's Law, that is not a law at all, it is simply matching past topology to an idea and extrapolating it into the future.

    Allen's piece in Technology Review is more philosophical, he doesn't get into the stuff I have about the physics-induced train wreck rushing at us, which stunts the ability of processors to shrink, or the notion that if something is redundant in the brain it can be compressed like an .mp3 song and it will make no difference in cognition.

    He and co-author Mark Greaves do a nice analysis of The Complexity Brake, where the complexity of a topic (like the brain) causes insight to slow down, almost like speed halts the closer we get to the speed of light.

    Paul Allen: The Singularity Isn't Near by Paul Allen and Mark Greaves, Technology Review

    Comments

    We have to all appreciate Microsoft and Macintosh for their advances, obviously or we probably wouldn't even be able to ever communicate so vastly. Have you tried to work in just the disk operating system [MS-DOS]? Even after you know all the commands it's still just rediculous. But, I feel there should be some new challengers by now. Yes, I feel technology is moving too slow, I said it! Do you believe their still may be sort of a monopoly? Is there anyone, that you may have heard of with another operating system, that could compare, or maybe somehow be better? I know I can't be alone, with so many ideas on improvements!

    Gerhard Adam
    Who has the time and money to invest in a new operating system?  To what purpose?  It's a dead-end market, because people will never spend money on obtaining an operating system.  They want applications, so you will have Windows and various flavors of Unix/Linux on the low-end systems.
    Mundus vult decipi
    It's important to question people like Kurzweil, but in calling the law of accelerating returns "an optimistic black box" is silly. We can see very clearly that each new technology is built upon the back of the previous technologies allowing each new technology to enjoy "returns." If this were not the case we would still be using rocks and spears for hunting. We can see clearly that the adoption rates of these technologies is speeding up as well. It took 100 years for the population to adopt Guttenberg's printing press, 50 years for the telephone, 25 years for the TV, 15 years for the PC, 10 years for the internet, 5 years for wiki's, microblogs and social networks. Of course our ability to shrink processors will hit a wall, just like we couldn't shrink transistors any more, or couldn't create vacuum tubes any smaller. But those "walls" didn't stop or even slow down our computer speeds did they? No, technology flowed around it for reasons that Kurzweil cites in his Law of Accelerating Returns. And if information in the brain (like all of our instincts for example) can't be compressed, then why can we recreate a whole new one with only a sperm and an ovum, which last time I checked had much, much less information than the brain. The brain is a recursive, probabilistic fractal much like the rest of nature. Like a tree. Complexity brake? What brake? We're only speeding up our ability understand complexity... especially since the entire universe has been re-iterating itself in patterns of information of more complexity and order since the big bang. I would say the singularity is in fact near.

    Hank
    It's important to question people like Kurzweil, but in calling the law of accelerating returns "an optimistic black box" is silly.
    I thought it was nicer than saying he believes in magic.  That's what it is, really.  Any time you map past events and timeframes to a cultural pet topology future, you are believing in magic, just like people who think a Mayan calendar foretells the end of the world.
    The brain is a recursive, probabilistic fractal 
    You have no idea what you are talking about.