Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Singularity is here for Us, but not for You and Me

The New Yorker proposes a Turing test.  Picture a black box with you holding a smartphone inside.  A time traveler from a hundred years ago gets to ask questions to figure who is in the box.  He will conclude you are a new kind  of super human.  You can tell him the square root of pi, supply an Arabic translation of the Declaration of Independence, tell him when to watch for a comet, recite any passage from Shakespeare, and supply the name of the three best restaurants in walking distance of the Tour Eiffel.   In other words, Neumann's singularity will have been reached and breached.
The New Yorker goes on:  "How you answer the question of whether we are getting smarter depends on how you classify “we.”    As a teaser, they suggest that individually, a human one hundred years ago may have been more intelligent in some ways with better reading skills, a knowledge of Latin, better at doing arithmetic and with a longer attention span.   When you add internet and the smartphone link, collectively we are amazing and new.

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