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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gathering Storms 4: Virtualization

I identified six gathering storms.  The first (that I want to discuss) is Global Virtualization.  This encompasses 1) the geometric growth of information technology and 2) the blurring lines between human and technological evolution.

My guide to the first is Adam Brate who in Technomanifestos presents the thoughts of the founders and developers of the infotech revolution.  The progression in capacity in hardware (processing and storage) and in software (computation and programming) is not linear, but geometric and on a curve towards infinity.  Current practitioners of information science and technology are providing both visions and warnings and advocating ways to both promote and intervene in the progress.

My guide to the second is Joel Garreau who in Radical Evolution presents the thought and experiments of those who are linking mind and machine.  He offers four scenarios for the human/computer world: 1) heaven--the utopia of Artificial Intelligence engineer and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil, The Singlularity is Near, where there is co-evolution of human and machine beyond biological base and limits, the ability of humanity to live almost forever through machines, and so humanize the universe; 2) hell--the Matrix where humans are actually controlled and undone by the monsters they have created; 3) prevail--a condition of peaceful co-existence where we slow the curve and keep control of our tools, but remain biologically based and limited; 4) transcend--a condition in which humanity achieves ever increasing union and knowledge but maintains its physical and biological base.

Ray Kurzweil is getting lots of press right now because of his book The Singularity in Near which I have read and his new movie Transcendent Man which I haven't yet seen.  Recent article in the Economist and this week's Cover article of Time feature him. 

Reflections on Kurzweil to follow.

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