Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Singularity is Far: A Neuroscientist's View
David J. Linden, a neuroscientist, has an article in boingboing (July 14, 2011) that expresses his skepticism about the view of some, such as Ray Kurzweil, that the singularity is imminent. Linden says "Kurzweil ... argues that our understanding of biology—and of neurobiology in particular—is ... on an exponential trajectory, driven by enabling technologies. The unstated but crucial foundation of Kurzweil's scenario requires that at some point in the 2020s, a miracle will occur: If we keep accumulating data about the brain at an exponential rate (its connection maps, its activity patterns, etc.), then the long-standing mysteries of development, consciousness, perception, decision, and action will necessarily be revealed. Our understanding of brain function and our ability to measure the relevant parameters of individual brains (aided by technologies like brain nanobots) will consequently increase in an exponential manner to allow for brain-uploading to computers in the year 2039. That's where I get off the bus. I contend that our understanding of biological processes remains on a stubbornly linear trajectory. In my view the central problem here is that Kurzweil is conflating biological data collection with biological insight." Thanks to Christina Spiesel, IS Group regular, for letting us know about this article.