Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ray Kurzweil can snap most people's limbs like dry twigs

Picking on Ray Kurzweil is probably not a good idea. I mean, the guy is pretty fit and so tough he doesn't even flinch when he has injections. In fact, he even seems to enjoy them. He boasts about having them in his book. Worse than that, he could probably kill someone with the right power chord from his synthesizer. The sonic blast could turn your bones to jelly. Which could have its advantages, if you didn't have to pull on your own nipples all the time to stop your lungs collapsing, which is kind of hard to do when you no longer have bones in your arms.

Anyway, the point is that I am extremely brave because I am now going to pick on Ray Kurzweil's ideas on the internet where he could theoretically find out about it. This is very fool hardy of me. After all, who knows what horrors he might inflict upon me after the singularity? Maybe swap my virtual reality Angelina Jolie image file with Margaret Thatcher's right in the middle of a hot and heavy philosophical discussion session.

Anyway, in his book, The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil says he thinks humans are the only intelligence in the galaxy or perhaps universe. He thinks we’re the only ones around because he says it’s natural for intelligence to spread through the universe and spread, well, intelligence. Since there is no sign that anyone has done that yet he concludes we’re the only intelligence around.

To me, this isn’t a good argument. It could be that the reason we haven’t detected signs of technology in space such as Dyson spheres is because aliens think that idea of spreading intelligence through the universe is so late 20th century and have much better things to do with their time. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that there were people who thought that destroying all wilderness until the entire earth was paved over was a good idea. Nowadays when we read about how our grandparents looked forward to the day when all those nasty lions, dingos, Tasmanian Tigers, indigenous inhabitants and so on would finally be extinct; many people are disgusted. I think it is possible that in the future intellects might feel the same way about spreading intelligence through the universe willy-nilly.

Kurzweil says that intelligence should spread through the universe rapidly. Well maybe an intelligence did spread through the universe rapidly and it’s an intelligence that likes the universe the way it currently is. And it uses the massive advantage of being the first intergalactic species to squash or co-opt any new species that might pop up and want to do things differently. And the reason we haven’t seen any sign of this uber intelligence is because it doesn’t give a damn about contacting us. I mean when was the last time you tried to communicate with an ant? Sure you might watch ‘em in an ant farm, but you don’t have high hopes of engaging in interesting conversation with them.

Well, I'd better finish up by saying something nice about the book so Ray Kurzweil won't come and rip my bloody arms and legs off like an intellectual Aunty Jack. One thing I appreciated was that he didn't say anything too silly about deflation in the book. Deflation is a problem when the general price level decreases. It's not a problem if the prices of certain goods such as computers decreas. And if we do end up with Kurzweilian deflation it's easily fixed. Governments can simply stop collecting taxes and start introducing negative poll taxes and just give everyone money to prevent problems caused by currency gaining in value.

Book Review: A Teaspoon and an Open Mind - The Science of Doctor Who

What the heck? I'm up to page 26 and I am astounded by the scientific inaccuracies. And I'm not talking about the science in Doctor Who, I'm talking about the real life science this guy is writing about. I go to the front of the book and I see the author, Michael White, has written a lot of books before involving science so it's not as if we have an over ernest fan here who doesn't know what he is talking about. I'm hoping that there was some enormous slip up in the editing process, but it seems more likely that this book is crap.

UPDATE: I read a few more pages. It's crap.

Velocoraptors Smarter than Humans - Conclusive Fictional Proof

It's very interesting to note that if you take a normal door and move the handle from the usual place and instead put it in one of the corners, most humans on earth will either be unable to open the door or spend an inordinate amount of time working it out. Yet the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, who presumably had never operated doors before, seemed to have no real problem at all. This makes me think that the chiczulub crater wasn't the result of an asteroid impacting the earth and killing off the dinosaurs. It was the result of a velociraptor being smart.