SingularityMind: The beginning
Lets start with some clarification on Moores law. According to webopedia:
“The observation made in 1965 by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented. Moore predicted that this trend would continue for the foreseeable future. In subsequent years, the pace slowed down a bit, but data density has doubled approximately every 18 months, and this is the current definition of Moore’s Law, which Moore himself has blessed. Most experts, including Moore himself, expect Moore’s Law to hold for at least another two decades.”
Since the invention of the transistor, transistors have been getting smaller and cheaper. This trend seems to be continuing
even though the number of transistors in chips sold to consumers has slowed. (It occurred to me that even though the number of transistors in a persons main computing device may be smaller on average, the actual total number of transistors per person has certainly increased incredibly, I don’t have exact numbers on this yet, but here is a back of the napkin calculation on how many transistors are sold per year per person.) With the uptick in tablet and cellphones there has been a downtick of desktops and laptops, tablets and cellphones have fewer transistors than desktop and laptop processors, the average consumer doesn’t seem to need the complexity for everyday computing tasks. Even still, the cost and size of a cellphone processor is decreasing, it won’t be long before cellphone processors are faster than todays laptops. The graph above shows the unbroken trend. Ray Kurzweil claims this trend can be graphed as far back as Charles Babbages difference engine of the 1820s.
I mark the beginning of computing in the 1940s with the first electronic calculators such as the Harvard Mark 1 and Eniac. Taking up a decent sized room, prone to errors, and less capable than a modern calculator these computers were not what we think of today when we say computer. There were no displays, no games to be played, they just calculated in 1s and 0s, it was the beginning. The first transistor, invented in 1948, was no smaller than it’s predecessor the vacuum tube, or its cousin the mechanical relay, and it was very expensive. A transistor can be used as a signal amplifier, or as in computing a switch. Imagine if you had to switches on the same wire, you would have to turn on the first switch AND the second switch to make the connection. If you had two switches side by side, connected at the top to a wire and connected at the bottom, you could turn on one OR the other to complete that connection. This AND/OR type connections, called Boolean logic, is the basis of all modern computation. The silicone transistor technology allowed it to shrink, and a few years later it appeared in radios and got cheaper, research into integrated circuits began. Integrated circuits, more than one transistor on a single part, began development in the lab and appeared in the 1960s. The Apple 1 was built by Steve Wozniak in 1976 and Apple Computer quickly rose to hysterical fame, the Apple II added color. What else appeared in the 1970s? The cell phone. All through the 80’s and 90’s computers were rife with development, competition and reducing costs.
In the early 1990’s IBM combine basic computing with a cellphone and a monochrome display to create the first “smartphone”. The end of the 90’s saw popularity of smartphones in Japan. The Blackberry, aka “crackberry” in the early 2000s. The nut buster of them all came in 2007 with the release of the Apple iPhone, its primary competitor close on its heals in 2008. Whats next? A smart watch? Smart glasses? Computer-brain implants? Yup, they’re already here. Computers went from warehouses, to rooms, to closets, to desks, to laps, to wrists and headwear. In a year this post will look dated, but predicting the future in 10 years will be nearly impossible.
If you’re skeptical about computer to brain and brain to brain connections, we’ve come a long way in the last 20 years.
If you’d argue people would never have surgery just to check their facebook status, eventually they won’t have too.
If you can’t imagine how silicone chips will shrink much smaller than the nano-sized parts they already are, they don’t necesarily have to to stay within the spirit of moores law, as long as they are getting faster and cheaper. Eventually we will run to the end of silicone technology, good news, crude versions of quantum computing are already here.
If you follow all these curves we’ve painted, computers will continue to get cheaper, faster, smaller, and most relevently, closer to the body, to inside the body. It should be acknowledged that there will be significant push back from people not wanting to put things into their bodies. Just as with the first vaccines, grown men fainted at the thought of intentionally sticking a needle into their skin and injecting a fluid into their body. There is a natural and healthy, evolutionary revoltion, to the idea of opening our bodies up, to putting things into them. But this revolution didn’t stop the adoption of vaccines, nor increasingly imaginative piercings and tattoos, or plastic surgery, and it won’t stop computers from entering the body.
Computing will get smaller and cheaper. Wearable computing such and watches, glasses and even clothes will become more popular in the next 10 years. As interface technology, such as voice recognition and artificial intelligence, becomes better the need for a larger general purpose computing device such as a cellphone or tablet will decrease. People have gotten used to having access to and sharing more and more personal information, this trend will continue, often to the obcene and detriment of the technology, but largely to the benefit to the society. Artificial intelligence will become more practical and useful, automatically recognizing things from various cameras and microphones and attempting to relay relevant information to you in a useful way, this technology won’t be very good for some years but eventually will be so good and to essentially give us extra senses. Basic implantable body sensors and authentication devices will become more popular. More brain implants to treat medical conditions will pass FDA approval. Today its RFID chips, tomorrow it will be blood and heartrate monitoring. Realtime sensing of blood sugar levels. These sensors will be able to extrapolate heart rate and hormones in the blood to know if you’re in danger and possibly alert authorities (please turn off while skydiving). It will be able to accurately guess your emotional state and post it to Facebook, often with the embaressing humor autocorrect gives us today. Autonomous cars will be on the road and traffic accidents will start dropping off.
Over the next 20 years, the sensors and implants in the body will increase and get smaller and smarter. Brain implants will start to be a “thing”. AI will be a know it all pet, following you around, ready to tell you anything you want to know at a moments notice a fully capable digital data assitant if you want it. AI will SEEM to you like it is intelligent. Characters in computer games will act like real people… or unreal people. Any accurate news will be written by massive data collating servers, watching every blog, twitter account, pinterest, vine, and whatever the new thing is, able to tell in less than a second when a world changing event is happening… or even know BEFORE it happens. Half the cars on the road will be electric and autonomous, traffic accidents will be vary rare.
In 40 years… computers will completely disappear. No one will ever pull out a phone during dinner or their laptop in a meeting. This will be the future people imagined in old 60s sci-fi. People will walk up to a curb, a car will pull up at that exact second, they will get in and take them to where they want to go without ever being told where they were going. If you want to communicate with another person, you’ll be able to do that, any way you want to. Leave them a virtual post-it note that they see virtually. Send them a voice message without opening your mouth. Or even send them a thought, for those really hard to explain conversations, they will open it and understand instantly what you mean. Kids will attend schools from home, gathering together in virtual spaces to work on projects together, and school will be completely unrecognizable. Kids won’t take tests, or sit in rows staring at the sunshine outside. Every work a kid does will be evaluated for level of understanding. AI will be practically smarter than people, being able to “understand” every nuance of language and intellect, hold lengthy conversations on philosophy, join with your brain instantly giving you super human intellect, or play you your favorite completely original movie that no one else has ever seen before, that you happened to be exactly in the mood for. Want to go to Mars? Well you COULD go, but you don’t have too. You can take an ultra-realistic stroll on Mars, or inhabit the body of a robot and walk around doing real science. You won’t even notice the delay in the radio signal, the robot will make choices for you and convince your brain thats what you wanted to to, and when you make a choice, the program will convince your brain their was no delay between when you decided to turn left and when the robot turned left. With this same technology, you can be a cat for the day, or even inhabit the brain of a phsycopath. Science will change so incredibly fast, no one will bother studying it, until you need it, and then you’ll learn it super fast. The “next thing” will be “so last week” before you’ve even heard of it… and it will have sold billions of them. Its easy to look at this future and think of flaws. What if this… or what if that… well you’re wrong, people and AI will have thought of that, I promise, and it will be fixed. There is nothing you can think of that won’t have been thought of by then. Pollution will cease as computers evenly distribute wastes for industrial uses and perfectly market prices. Global warming won’t be a problem and any damage done will be fixed. Poor people around the globe may be poor, but there will be little disease and nearly everyone will have enough food and a comfortable bed to sleep in at night. It will be so cheap to provide everyone basic necessities that it just happens as a spillover of other industry. It won’t even be socialism, going through a government wouldn’t be efficient, a computer sees a competitive hole, calculates the benefit to the company at a $0.0001 profit margin and food is distributed, or a free hotel is built, without a person to over see any of the process, it just happens.
Yes these futures are complete extrapolation, and there’s no way these visions are in any way accurate, except in spirit. This is what the future will be like. Regulation, unforseen scientific discoveries and cultural trends will guide the river of the future to one of an infinite number of possible unimaginable futures, of which the one I discribed it possible. However, I believe the future I discribe is very likely to be close to the real one, based on extrapolating the changing trends and a healthy dose of imagination. What say you?