Sunday, May 03, 2009

US Politics, AI's and Uploading Minds: The Singularity awakes

Let's jump off Future Politics for a moment and go straight for the futurology. During my Plague Year, I was stuck reading a book by Charles Stross. The book was Acclerando. It discussed the Singularity and many other subjects. It's sequel, Glasshouse, was an adventure within the new world of the Singularity.

As someone who has one foot in Science Fiction and another in American Politics, let's discuss how to make the unreal, real.

First, what is the Singularity?

According to the Singularity Institute:

The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence. There are several technologies that are often mentioned as heading in this direction. The most commonly mentioned is probably Artificial Intelligence, but there are others: direct brain-computer interfaces, biological augmentation of the brain, genetic engineering, ultra-high-resolution scans of the brain followed by computer emulation. Some of these technologies seem likely to arrive much earlier than the others, but there are nonetheless several independent technologies all heading in the direction of the Singularity – several different technologies which, if they reached a threshold level of sophistication, would enable the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.

Another good book to read is Ray Kurziweil's, The Singularity is Near. It discusses the theoretical advantages of living under the Singularity.

How can we create the world of the Singularity during the Second Decade of the Millennium? And how can we make the United States the forefront of this idea?

If NASA is the guide to how Government does science, then it would take fifty years to build a foothold (unless they are in a race against another State, but what Nation State is fighting us on that battlefield?) It needs private monies and private business' to make any sort of progress. Personally, I think we need a real life version of William Gibson's Chiba City (from Neuromancer). A Technological Free Zone where science advances without interference from the State and trade outweighs all. But I don't think this Administration will promote it.

But at some point if tax money can be had, the State will be involved. Let's posit that the next Republican Administration with a Republican Congress (Read the Encyclicals, it will happen soon) authorizes, say, Seattle, Washington as a technological Free Zone. If you are wondering how that happens? Lobby the Fiscal Conservatives. Trade helps civilization in their eyes.

In the new technological Wild West, an Artificial Intelligence [AI] is birthed. It is grown over a few years to adapt to modern life. More then just acting as a Chess Master, the AI establishes an inner life and world akin to the MMORPGs (i.e World of Warcraft). In the Technological Free Zone, other Artificial Worlds are created.

Charles Stross wrote Halting State to show the echoes the virtual world can have in the real one. The State will try to regulate the AI as a person. Will they use Corporate rules? Or human rules? The reason why Republicans are better at this, is because most Elected republicans actually run business'. They will weigh the benefits of making AI's people. If Democrats gain hold, they will tie the AI to the State, maybe make it operate for the State. Do we really want to go down that road?

The final part of uploading minds, how would that be popularized? Maybe culture will be influenced by the Technological Free Zone. If it can be done, safely, people will want to join in. A member of Congress will want to test it before they legalize it. The public will follow.

And, thanks to Republicans (and the many people who Lobby them), America is the first to enter the Singularity.

Would you want to live under the Singularity? How do you see it coming about?

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