To facilitate more efficient interaction with data and services available in the emerging web Cloud, we should build a Web OS or “middle-ware layer developers can write applications to”, says Twine creator Nova Spivack. Ideally, such a layer would be “brand agnostic” and serve as a neutral “marketplace for finding and orchestrating [all] services rather than one company’s services.”
“The middle-ware should be able to handle this without making me subscribe to anyone’s proprietary API,” paints Spivack, “So if I say, ‘I need to store something,’ the middle-ware layer, this Web OS, should say ‘Hmm, where do I get the best deal on storage right now?’ Maybe it’s Amazon, maybe it’s Google, maybe it’s another location.’”
Clearly such middle-ware would save time and generate other efficiencies, especially in the context of exponential information growth, creating “a major commercial opportunity” for the right developer, as Spivack points out.
Here’s the full Web OS scenario as presented by Spivack:
So the question then becomes, which organization will end up building out such a structure?
The usual suspects Google and Microsoft immediately pop into mind. Both have made big browser plays and understand the significance of The Cloud and human attention.
But perhaps it will prove too large or complex an effort or present a fundamental conflict of interest for such companies, in which case open-source efforts facilitated by the likes of the Mozilla Foundation may prove most effective.
So it is true! Peter Diamandis, Chair and CEO of the increasingly mighty X-Prize Foundation, and some high-level folks are working on something big called a “Singularity University.” Who else could be involved? It seems like Ray Kurzweil would be a prime candidate, especially considering their back-to-back presentations at today’s Summit.
Might this be a first step toward a Singularity X-Prize? :) What do you think a “Singularity University” might consist of?
Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works, gave a presentation on how robots can easily eliminate half the workforce of the United States fairly soon.
He said that by 2042 there will be $500 desktop computers with computing power equal to the human brain. We can then put this into a robot which will have the power to do jobs that millions of people hold today. Robots can easily take over education, transportation, construction and retail jobs.
Walmart alone has over 1.2 million employees, performing easy jobs. If robots take the jobs, “a million jobs at Walmart will evaporate.”
But what about the job market?
6.5 million in construction will be gone. 16.4 million in manufacturing will be gone. Retail/wholesale will lose 20 million jobs. Drivers will lose 3 million jobs. Education to lose 2 million.
“Half the jobs in the economy right now we can see robots taking over.”
He ended with the question displayed “What if 50-million people became unemployed?” He then said “there is no doubt these jobs will be gone fairly soon.” We have to start modifying our economy to deal with the mass unemployed.
Intel CTOJustin Rattner acknowledges that “the Singularity is a nice organizing principle” and that Intel will be critical to any future scenario in which runaway technology enables massive intelligence. He says Intel is “responsible for the trench warfare that drives these technologies.”
The preceding video was captured atSS08shortly after Justin’s presentation.
Rattner argues that other Moore’s Law enabled advances in other fields such as Silicon Photonics, Digitial Multi-Radio, Silicon Bio-sensors and Programmable Matter will be instrumental in a possible Singularity.
But could exponentially advancing technologies hit a wall?
“We did hit a wall,” says Rattner, “We reached the point where we could not thin the gate material any more. So, in essence, Silicon Gate CMOS ended last year.”
But engineers were able to develop a work-around: metal gate technology, and they’re also planning subsequent generations that will enable computer speeds to continue their astronomical growth.
This prompts the Rattner’s next question, “How do you define Moore’s Law?”
Indeed. Is Moore’s Law still relevant, or is a broader law of accelerating computation in effect.
Twine creator Nova Spivack believes we are evolving collective consciousness through the web. Here’s a summary of his ruminations on the subject (shot immediately following his thought-provoking presentation at SS08 this morning):
This morning at the Singularity Summit, he posed the question, “Will the Global Brain have its own mind?”
Here are some of my take-aways from his excellent presentation (memebox interview forthcoming):
“Are we actually space-time machines?”
“Intelligence will spread throughout the universe. ... The cosmos is an intelligence spreading machine.”
“The distinction between actual and virtual will just go away. ... It won’t be Second Life anymore, it will just be First Life.”
“We don’t really know how the body and mind will change.”
Buys Vinge’s assertion of “Superhuman intelligence in 30 years.”
Four scenarios through which super-human intelligence can occur:
- computers themselves become awake
- large computer networks wake up (Skynet)
- interfaces become so connected that effectively each individual awakens
- human intellect is enhanced by biological and other means
So, how to give a group a sense of itself, bring self-consciousness to a group?
In the first talk of the day, Hugo Award-winning Science Fiction Author Vernor Vinge opens up by stating that achieving the Singularity by 2030 is still going to happen.
His conviction is very impressive. He states that the Singularity is still on track because Moore’s Law is still working. If technology continues to exponentially increase, 2030 is his best date.
What’s very interesting is that he made the statement that humans don’t create tools, we outsource our intellect into our environment. He goes on to explain that biometric modifications in a person will get to the point where our own intellect will barely be visible, only a “hand on a tiller” in the vast sea of humanity.
Good morning readers! It’s 7:30am in Mountain View, CA and in just a few hours MemeBox will begin liveblogging and not-so-liveblogging the 2008 Singularity Summit. MemeBox reporter John Heylin (soon to be Future of Gadgets Editor) and I will be storming the festivities to soak up some future-focused speaker presentations and asking anyone and everyone to get on camera to talk about the future, paint some scenarios and specifically make a few predictions for the year 2015. We’ll scramble and do our best to post these to You Tube and here on Future Blogger as soon as humanly possible, while still experiencing the event.
If you’re also attending (physically or virtually) and would like to post a reaction, summary or video, then we encourage you to add it to the comment threads (yes, you can embed youtube videos and image links) of our ongoing Singularity Summit 2008 pieces!
Alright, off to wake up Heylin and head down to San Jose for what’s sure to be a day full of brain-freezes, vigorous debate and non-stop journalism. If yesterday’s preceding SciVestor Workshop, organized and moderated by the capable Jonas Lamis, serves as an gauge then today should unfold very nicely. Stay tuned…
Update #1: Shortly before the summit:
Update #2: Multiple Hugo Award winning sci-fi author and coiner of the term “Singularity” Vernor Vinge is onstage right now speaking with Bob Pisani about the value of scenario planning in forecasting our future. He insists that scenarios expand our ability to collectively process the future because they open up various options to contemplate.
re: the current economic crisis, Vinge believes this can be attributed in part to the outsourcing of more and more of human processes.
Discussing the Singularity and Intelligence Amplification – Vinge concurs with Cascio’s esimation that technology growth is generally banal, but does not believe a Singularity will be banal – unless someone has amplified their intelligence to a Super-Human status.
re: Post-Singularity Future Fiction – How do you deal with thinking about super-humanly creatures? Through analogy. Human-like, systems attributes. Vinge is encouraged that much of nature is about cooperation. New life depends on old life. “It’s actually a pretty optimistic view.”
Pasani asks about failure scenarios. Vinge, “A person in America is every day faced with existential threats. ... Embedded networked micro-processors are the biggest economic win over the last 50 years. ... They may be the way the Singularity materializes. ... The become so ubiquitous that they become a ‘single failure’ point. ... We don;t know how many people would actually die if somethign like this failed.”
Pasani asks about Disaster Scenarios. Vinge, “It could be that Killjoy has it right. ... But it could be that Killjoy has it opposite, that in fact the future really, really does need us. ... We are something that can work even if technology goes away.”
Vinge on the likelihood of the Singularity. “Barring physical catastrophes – if humanity became extinct it wouldn’t happen. Nuclear war would pre-empt it.”
Responding to a question from the audience, “Any time you’re playing a positive sum game it makes sense to be nice.” Vinge argues evolution continues in the realm of psychology. “Culturally I think we’ve gotten much better in the last 5 centuries. So there’s reason to be very optimistic.”
On climate change: It’s an existential threat. “I don’t think it by itself is the most existential threat that we face.”
According to a June 15 analysis published in the French bi-monthly magazine L’Auto-Journal, a long-standing car magazine, the European Union will soon no longer be on the short list of the top 3 contributors of greenhouse gases. The French-originated NAC (Nouvelle Affaire de Carburant) program, widely known as the New Fuel Deal by the English-speaking world, was initially criticized by citizens of nearly every European nation for being an economic fiasco.
The brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who served a six month stint as EU president, has certainly paid off for the environment, despite the widespread criticism and dire predictions. The Affaire was created by the members of the EU’s French-led APRE Summit (Automobile-fabricants pour la Protection et la Régénération de l’Environment, or ACRE – Auto-makers for the Conservation and Regenration of the Environment) in 2011, which formed an impressive international think-tank consisting of automobile manufacturers, leaders in the alternative fuel industry, financial wizards and various government officials. Despite initial opposition from such countries as the Czech Republic and Ireland, the plan was consensually ratified in February, 2010.
Yesterday the New York Times Company announced that it has been so affected by the recent economic downturn that it may default on its debt. Coming on the heels of the worst advertising year for newspapers since 1950 things are not looking good for the typically stalwart American brand. With the prospect of more financial woes on the horizon, it is conceivable the company will be required to liquidate a significant portion of its assets come the new year.
On the flip side of the coin, this is also a great opportunity for management at the great American newspaper to guide it towards a more situationally appropriate new media model. As upstart blogs rake in the big bucks it’s about time the New York Times got hip to the times. With a bit of common sense and some luck they company will be able to avoid the sinister fate that awaits former giants such as GM.