The singularity gets roasted

I just love it when someone with facts and reason just tears apart someone with nothing but fantasy and fiction. Hold it now, I’m not bashing religion. In this case I’m bashing a classmate of mine and the silly notion a bunch of giggly pseudo-scientists are peddling, the Singularity, which means a bunch of things, but basically that we’re going to upload our brains into a computer and become immortal and wonderful. Holly Hockey Pucks! – what rubbish.

So my buddy PZ Myers just rips this idea to shreds in his post, dripping with contempt for the scientific ignorance displayed in this post. PZ actually has the science chops (actual lab work) to shred them more than I ever could, but Ray needs to stop living in his glory days of building music synthesizers for Stevie Wonder and thinking this represents cutting-edge computing. Ray probably still believes Marvin was right and neural nets can’t do XOR and that Danny was right and computers should be made out of Tinkertoys. So even though PZ can roast them on the completely wrong biology I’ll roast them on their completely wrong use of computing.

So here’s the thing Singularity guys. has anyone ever simulated what little we know about what happens at a synapse and a network of synapses to produce a “thought”. You think Arturo figured this all out because that was about the state of the art at MIT where you were there Ray. Give me a break. You see any accomplishment that even vaguely fits under the AI umbrella that has anything to do with simulating actually biological neural nets (or maybe you think the synthetic neural nets are such a stimulation, ha-ha).

Compared to religion new age wackoism is fairly tame and thus far hasn’t killed too many people in Inquisitions, but new age nonsense within a country mile of science or computing is just pandering to the TED crowd who will cheer you on because they actually don’t know anything about either computing or neuroscience. So you go get ‘em, PZ, with real stories about real science working with real sections of brains of real organisms, but I doubt this will blast them out of their dreamworld, but keep on trying.

p.s. I have to add this. I’m actually looking at the paper and see:

Data handling is at present a bottleneck. 0.1 mm3 at 400 pixels/μm resolution and 50 nm section thickness would (compressed) contain 73 terabytes of raw data. A full brain at this resolution would require 10^9 terabytes (Fiala, 2002). While extremely large, even this mightone day be regarded as feasible.

My emphasis on 10^9 terabytes. Just the other day I did a post about a possible technology that could achieve 50 petabytes in a device, that’s 4×10^4 terabytes. 10^9 terabytes is 1000 exabytes or a zettabyte. Have you ever heard of a zettabyte? Do you think we’re getting anywhere near that amount of storage? I’ve heard (approximately since don’t recall exactly) that humanity is creating a few exabytes of new information a month (that counts stuff like photos which really pack in the bytes fast) and we’re keeping up with that. It’s possible we’re building 10s, maybe even 100s of millions of terabyte scaled drives these days. So just barely we might get near that number FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD in a decade or so. The 50 petabyte molecular storage is probably nearly the limit we can go on storage, so assuming we could actually scan a brain, we’d need 20,000 of those device. Come on, guys. Stop doing exponential extrapolation and believing its real!

Who knows how much other stupid computation stuff I’ll find in reading the paper so I’ll refrain from reporting any more unless I hit a real laugher, since PZ’s attack on the biology is good enough to refute this nonsense.

Addendum: This article has somewhat more information but also says the same thing I’m saying about the problem with reductionism.

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About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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8 Responses to The singularity gets roasted

  1. dmill96 says:

    This is cool. In comments at Pharyngula one of the comments pointed out that the singularitarians should do this creature as proof of concept, http://aplysia.miami.edu/scientific-importance.html Never heard of this creature before, so interesting the paths that lead to new learning.

  2. dmill96 says:

    Here’s the actual paper, http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/3853/brain-emulation-roadmap-report.pdf Just a quick scan of some of the stuff on the software needed looks silly.

  3. I don’t buy it either. Ever heard of a book called APOCALYPTIC AI? In it, the author collects and discusses some of these thousand-mile-high ideas.

  4. dmill96 says:

    No I haven’t heard of that book, but, thanks, I’ll take a look.

    In the same year Ray Kurzweil and I were in college MIT held an open-house and AI-ish claims were all the rage: computer would be chess champion in 5 years, computer would read physical books and speak them onto audio tapes for hearing impaired, computer would prove important math theorems, and so forth. This was the early heady days before a lot of reality crushed such giddy notions. Somehow Ray retained that youthful optimism and now has the TED platform to spread the Singularity idea to, frankly credulous, audiences who don’t know much about neurophysiology or computers and thus to do the math to even roughly estimate the magnitude of “downloading” a brain. All this might make for interesting conversation (i.e. what does it mean to be “immortal” by in a virtual organism?) but it’s even more fantasy than all those 1960s predictions.

  5. I wrote a blog called Imaginary Places about that book. http://writersrest.com/2012/04/05/imaginary-places/ I don’t know science, but I know fiction when I read it.

    • dmill96 says:

      Thanks, I checked out the link. I hadn’t made the connection off the term ‘Apocalyptic’, as you mentioned in your first comment, and the religious angle. Apocalypse is used in many ways from its original so I probably implicitly assumed something else. And interesting that you dug out the preceding quote from Clarke along the same lines. I’ve always thought immortality sounded boring, forever is a long time and hard to imagine having something new to do forever and forever. But the connection of somehow also having a new better body does play along the imaginary condition that some people I’ve heard as a description of heaven.

  6. Pingback: What is the point of blogging? | dailydouq

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