Tag Archives: singularity

Are You Ready to Smartify? The Meatbot’s Guide to the Singularity

So, there I was in the middle of downtown Washington D.C. and I wasn’t able to find any parking.

What did I do? I drove around aimlessly. Asked a few people, who had no idea where they were going. Got more frustrated. And swore until I stumbled onto a parking spot a few minutes later.

So. There I was in downtown Raleigh, N.C. and I wasn’t able to find the convention center.

What did I do? I took a breath, tapped my fingers a few time and a few seconds later had a lock on the building and — boom — walked right over to it.

In about a two weeks, I went from being a directional dummy to a confident destination finder.

What happened?

Did I spend hours studying maps? Did I somehow become able to navigate automatically?


I bought a smart phone.

Vance Woodward says in his book, The Meatbot’s Guide to the Technological Singularity: Prepare to Smartify!, that this type of smart phone-augmented intelligence isn’t just the beginning, it’s the beginning of the beginning of the rapidly approaching ability to radically augment  our intelligence. He calls it our ability to Smartify.

How much will we smaritfy? Try infinitely.

Vance, who writes at the Fantastic Future,  has become one of my favorite futurists and his book didn’t disappoint. The Singularity, in case you haven’t heard about this, is loosely defined as a point when technology leads to greater-than-human superintelligence.

2035 was a big year. In 2035 improvements in nanoscale engineering and SINI (Super-intelligence nonhuman intelligence) combined to enable humans to use seemless interface between human brain matter and external computer hardware. — Vance Woodward, The Meatbot’s Guide to the Singularity.

The book is an unusual volume in the Singularity meme. It’s a mixture of science and vision that’s also pretty funny. That’s unusual because, at least based on the last few books I read on the subject, futurist writers appear to come from two backgrounds. Either they are the engineering types, or they’re the science fiction-y types. On one side you get the science of things like accelerating returns and exponential increases, or you get weird visions of the future.

Vance is able to offer both. He lays out current science and technological trends, then he leads you to where these trends could end up. And it may just be a really weird future. Weirder than we can imagine. And I have a weird imagination.

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Weekend Wisdom–The Future Gets Quicker All The Time…

Maybe, because of my readings about research and technology, as well as the Singularity, I’m becoming more sensitive to the pace of technological change. The number of breakthroughs appears to be increasing rapidly.

These new technologies and findings aren’t just coming in one area; they are spread out across a number of disciplines, from biotech to quantum physics. That’s a key insight that’s making it harder to predict just how the future unfolds.

I’ll start out with some links to stories about the latest breakthroughs…

Daily MailNew Solar Paint Could Generate Electricity from Roofs and Walls

ABC (Australia) ScienceQuantum Computer Breakthrough

GizmagA 3-D Printer Under $500

Eureka AlertDuke Researchers Turn Scar Tissue into Heart Muscle Without Using Stem Cells

Dvice.com —  MIT Reinvents Glass That’s Non-fogging, Self-cleaning, and Glare-free

MashableCompany Looks to Mine $20 Trillion Rock

By the way, if you want to keep up on this breathtaking pace of research, I’d subscribe to Futureseek. It’s a great resource.

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Weekend Wisdom–Links to the Future… And Elsewhere

Creative Commons--Flickr

There’s an old saying, “Keep an eye on the past, your heart in the present, and your mind in the future.”

Actually, I just made it up.

But, anyhoo, I decided I would pass along some links today about future science and research. Each week that I think has been a breakthrough week for technology is followed by another week of startling breakthroughs.

And another one.

So. Here goes:


GizmodoFuture Internets Will be Powered by Quantum Particles

ForbesHow to Manage One Million Cars With Big Data

IEETThe Dyson Sphere

Phys OrgWill 3D Printing Launch the Next Industrial Revolution?

Science DailyEngineered Stem Cells Seek Out And Kill HIV in Living Mice and Artificial Photosynthesis Breakthrough

Daily MailUniversal Cancer Vaccine Tested on Humans for the First Time

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Investing, Bikinis and the Post-Scarcity Economy

The first ready-to-wear 3D-bikini.

Take a look at this bikini. (Like I even needed to tell the male readers that.)

This two-piece may be the first shot in a revolution that will roil the markets and change your portfolio.

Not in the fashion sense. As bikinis go, it’s pretty standard.

But this little number was made by Continuum Fashion using a 3 D printer. A 3-D printer uses plastics to churn out custom products like cups, dishes, shoes, and bikinis. Think of it as the office copy machine for objects. While 3-D printers are not cheap now, they’re becoming less and less expensive.

Most experts say that this 3-D printing technology isn’t even in its infancy. The 3-D printer will make its way into your home. Then nanotechnology may make it possible to use more materials than just plastic. The replicator of Star Trek may not be too far behind that.

But what does this have to do with investing?

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Idiocracy is Coming True

I recently received a call from a recruiter, and he sounded like the guy from Idiocracy. Have you seen this movie? If not, you really need to see it. It is about the dumbing-down of America and the lowest common denominator of human being. It’s about drinking Gatorade and eating fast food.

The Guy from Idiocracy

After talking to the recruiter for a few minutes, I actually thought it was a joke. Why would anyone trust him to find good people? Why would anyone even bother to talk to him? His diction was so poor I didn’t really understand what he was saying. I could tell he knew absolutely nothing about programming. I just kept remembering the frustrations of the main character in the movie when he tried to communicate with the “normal” people.

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Singularity Update: Has the Singularity been Delayed?

Critics of technological progress, in general, and the Singularity, specifically, have been quick to point out a study that the genome sequencing program has led to little actual medical treatments and cures.

You can read these criticisms here. And a little gloating here on the Discover blog.

A great rebuttal has been posted at Physics and Cake.

Even the critics point out the the speed and power of gene sequencing is no less than amazing.

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Even Higher Frequency Trading on the Way

pic by artemuestra @ Flickr

Super-secret dark money pools and High Frequency Trading firms or HFTs had no sooner gotten a bad rap when another form of trading is about to steal it’s crown.

Thanks to an almost villainous take on the Singularity, a new group of computer-driven, quant-guided traders are now getting their hands on market data before other investors have a chance to see it (subscription required).

What’s the big deal?

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Making Life and Money: The Trillion-Dollar Invention

Dr. Frankenstein was in the wrong business.

While Craig Venter can now lay claim to being the first person to create artificial life, he’s not interested in bolting together a monster. He’s looking to make monster money.

Last week, Venter announced that he had created life using manmade DNA. It’s often referred to as synthetic life.

This was a 15 year mission for Venter.

The announcement is stunning. What the technology could lead to is stunning in the trillion dollar level.

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How Technology Could Corner the Gold Market

pic by covilha @ Flickr

Gold is going up, up, up. As currencies go down, down, down.

Gold and precious metals are often safe investments because of the relative scarcity of the materials–hence, the whole “precious” thing.

Gold must be mined and smelted. That takes time and money.

But amazing technology may change that.

In an article in CNET, a group of scientists explain how they created DNA nanobots to manufacture at the molecular level. The scientists even programmed the nanobots to create  gold particles.

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Why We Should Be Rationally Optimistic

Things are falling apart.

Riots in Greece.

Oil spills and volcanoes.


Sudden, inexplicable falls in the stock market.

But when we come to this conclusion, are we participating in a unique psychological phenomena that mistakes pieces for the whole? Another possibility, it that the media tends to over-report the negative and under-report the positive. As any good editor will tell you, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

After reading the The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley, you may start to understand the possibility that things aren’t getting worse; they’re getting better, much better.

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