Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Two Paths to the Singularity

Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, sees a future in which physical reality in infused with embedded, distributed, self-organizing computation everywhere, while Ray Kurzweil sees a future with increasingly realistic, full-immersion virtual-reality computers. But Gersenfeld and Kurzweil agree that these worlds will converge in the future:

Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, studies the boundary between computer science and physical science, looking toward a future in which they merge, computers essentially disappear into the physical world, and everything becomes programmable. Kurzweil has been fascinated with modeling the physical world in computers—simulation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality—and believes if he takes good care of his health, he may just survive long enough to see computers that are far smarter than people.

For years, Dalrymple has been trying to reconcile these two visions of the future: Gershenfeld's future in which computers collapse and simply become part of reality, and Kurzweil's future in which reality as we know it collapses and simply becomes part of computers. In an e-mail exchange prompted by a lunchtime discussion in Gershenfeld's laboratory during which another student referred to Kurzweil's work, Dalrymple asked his mentors, “Is it possible for both to happen at the same time?”

Read post - 'Two Paths to the Singularity'

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