Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Technological Singularity is Bullshit part 2

We are all familar with the futurist  concept  that  Technology is rushing faster and faster. To back up this claim futurists say things like - "the amount of information is doubling every few years and increasing at a far than has ever been previously imaginable" or "there are more scientists and technologists alive and working than in all the pervious history of civilisation" .

These are supposedly indisputable facts but if you are prepared to look up the history of technology you can eassily see that these statements are querstionable or even completly false!  We can't mistake the hectic pace of modern life  considering the amount of effort wasted or duplicated  as rapid change. 
You really have to look at technology in a different way and realise that the most reliable technologies are ancient and now more or less invisible. Think about the stuff you really use - Vaccines, Electricity, drinkwater, roads, houses, more food than you can eat and cheap warm clothing that protects you from the elements.
 Historically Technology seems to come along in leaps and bounds followed by long or short lulls as the technology matures and is more widely used.  Other factors like wars and social systemss can also really slow down technological progress. Why should we assume that the 20th century and early 21st century have been more special than previous " technological singularitys" for example the Renasiance and the industrial revoution? When you look in history there are many "explosions"  of technology in all parts of the world often followed by periods of statis. The Islamic golden age  in mediaval time's also moved pretty fast only to be followed by long decline.

In fact it could be argued that technology slowed down during the entire course of the 20th century and the period 1850-1900 was probably a hell of a lot faster than now. To explain what i mean  Cars  and telephones only became common in 1920's,  Radios and commercial airflight  in the 1930's -  Refridgerators in the 1940's TV's 1950's , Rockets in the 1960's,  Microwaves in the 70's and home computers in the 1980's. All these inventions had been around for a a long while before they got acceptance and were widely used.  I would argue that most innovations since then have only been refinements in existing technoligys they enable us to do things more quickly, precisely or in a gltzy way - BUT not differently. Before you bring up the internet - THINK the internet is just computers attached to the pre-existing phone/telegraph network. THIS was done back in the 50's  for airline companys and then developed by the milarty in the 60's and it took until the 90's before it was widley used.
Some technologies have actually slipped backwards - we fly at the same speed as people in the 1950's supersonic commercial airtravel is now virtually non-existant. Lasers are another great example - invented in 1958 - moved extremely rapidly in the 60's, 70's and 80's and very slow since only one or two notable innovations in the last 20 years.

Computers are supposed to be bringing about rapid change but are they - take a look from a historical point of view the only thing that has really progressed fast is microchip design, software and other bottlenecks have slowed progress down and again I would argue that in a sense hasn;t progressed much since the 1970's. The only real innovation was to link up home computers on the web but as we have already stated that was done before it just wasn;t widely used.

I will finish my idea of the singularity with  a warning - If we as the younger generation are supposed to be inventing the singularity - we are doing a shit job - to spend time philosophising about what may happen instead of innovating we are more likely to regress than progress.  If anything we are the fat contented children of the industrial revolution and we can no way compare our innovations to be on par with inventors of the 1800-1900.  Our best innovation of recent years was space travel and then we got too scared to be pioneers and use it properly - and instead seem to be regressing into a state of techno-dependancy and being suckled like baby's by the technological acheivments of the past. Its even got to the stage when our prophets are telling us that in a few years it will all be over and soon it won;t matter.

That my freinds is BULLS,, i mean BILLLYCOCK - fuck the singularity its a dream -  we should be concentrating on reality..
(Steps off soap box)

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