Tag: Singularity

Singularity approaching

Saturday, 4 November, 2017 0 Comments

What will life be like when the the predicted “singularity” arrives? Visual Suspect, a video production company based in Hong Kong, has come up with a depiction of what, for many, is a terrifying prospect. It’s terrifying because the “technological singularity” is the notion that artificial super-intelligence will trigger rampant technological growth, resulting in revolutionary changes to civilization.

The starting point for those wishing to learn about the singularity hypothesis remains The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology written by the futurist Ray Kurzweil and published in 2005. Three years later, Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis founded the Singularity University in California. It offers educational programs that focus on scientific progress and “exponential” technologies, especially AI.


To singularize, or pluralize, that is the question

Monday, 2 May, 2016 0 Comments

The Rainy Day copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the twelfth edition, dates from 2011 and it’s beginning to show its age. Take the word “singularity,” which all nerds know is the approaching era when “our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today.” According to our Concise Oxford English Dictionary, however, the definition goes like this:

singularity n (pl singularities) 1 the state, fact, or quality of being singular. 2 Physics & Mathematics a point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially a point of infinite density at the centre of a black hole.

The entry on “singularity” is followed by the definition of “singularize” or “singularise”, which is a verb, “1 make distinct or conspicuous. 2 give a singular form to (a word).” Its counterpart, “pluralize/pluralise”, is defined as “1 make something more numerous. 2 give a plural form to a word.” And this brings us to GitHub, the largest host of source code in the world, with 12 million users and some 31 million repositories, where Blake Embrey has added a module titled “pluralize” that uses “a pre-defined list of rules, applied in order, to singularize or pluralize a given word. There are many cases where this is useful, such as any automation based on user input,” he says.

Who, apart from lexicographers and coders, care about such wordy matters? Apple does, and tomorrow we’ll find out why Apple is at war with the singular and the plural of its product(s). Example: “It would be proper to say ‘I have 3 Macintosh.'”


Minsky and Mozart

Wednesday, 27 January, 2016 1 Comment

In a blog post tilted Farewell, Marvin Minsky (1927 – 2016), Stephen Wolfram, Founder & CEO of Wolfram Research, pays tribute to the American pioneer of artificial intelligence and co-founder of the AI Lab at MIT, who died on Sunday. Snippet:

“Marvin immediately launched into talking about how programming languages are the only ones that people are expected to learn to write before they can read. He said he’d been trying to convince Seymour Papert that the best way to teach programming was to start by showing people good code. He gave the example of teaching music by giving people Eine kleine Nachtmusik, and asking them to transpose it to a different rhythm and see what bugs occur. (Marvin was a long-time enthusiast of classical music.)”

RIP, Marvin Minsky, genius and trailblazer of advances in mathematics, computational linguistics, optics and robotics. Apropos Minsky’s genius and love of classical music, as the world knows, Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major) is a famous chamber ensemble composition by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and today happens to be his birthday. Happy 260th, dear Mozart!


Kindle pre-highlighters suit Microsoft science fiction

Thursday, 10 December, 2015 0 Comments

Here’s what Andrei Codrescu said when he found that passages in a book he’d downloaded onto his Kindle arrived pre-highlighted: “It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don’t know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books… And then I discovered that the horror doesn’t stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who’s defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station…”

These “pre-highlighters” are a love-hate (mostly hate) thing and the Amazon Kindle Forum thread on the subject is filled with all kinds of erudite comments: “But if you turn off Annotations Backup you won’t get any synching between multiple devices, and if you archive a book, and then bring it back to your Kindle all your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and last place read will all be gone,” Fool for Books says.

Anyway, all of this was brought on by reading the Kindle Edition of “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft.” The opening story in the collection is “Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire and in it she explores the world of machine learning. The pre-highlighters that prompt the New Oxford American Dictionary are uncannily appropriate in this context. Just like the “precogs” of Minority Report with their abilities to see into the future, digital format sci-fi about computers that communicate is an ideal place for predictive popups. The Singularity is getting nearer by the day.

Kindle reading


Federico Pistono talks fact and science fiction

Tuesday, 29 January, 2013

Federico Pistono is a young Renaissance Man whose formal education has taken him from studying science and technology in the ancient Italian city of Verona to an immersion in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at the ultra-modern Singularity University in California. A thinker, a social entrepreneur and an aspiring filmmaker, he is also the author […]

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