Mad World

“It’s a crazy world.” – Glen

“Somebody ought to sell tickets.” – H.I.

“Sure, I’d buy one.” – Glen

From “Raising Arizona”

You know, it IS a crazy world.  Exhibit A: any news feed, any time of day, from any source.  Pick one.  No, really … do it.  View, read, listen, whatever … mostly, try to absorb and reflect.

Mad world, right?  (What is It with the Tears for Fears references in this blog?  Have to look into that …)  We have to develop our core abilities and substrate skills to be able to adapt, evolve & survive in such a “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” environment.

Well, buckle up, pudding cup. The weird is about to get turned up to “11”.


The Singularity. 

Have you heard of it?  It was briefly discussed during the first class of Remain Relevant on the Englewood campus.  I’ve heard the term & topic bandied and batted around for many years, always with a mythic air of awe and tacit panic shrouding the dialogue, kind of like discussing “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”.  It’s almost a spiritual discussion, with the term needing to be defined upon each exchange.  (“OK, when I say “singularity”, here’s what I mean … what do you mean when you say “singularity”?”)  All too often, the ambiguous meaning triggers a resigned shrug and retreat into Justice Potter Stewart country, “I know it when I see it.”

One thing is certain … I’ve heard multiple definitions of The Singularity, ranging from “it’s the state achieved when Artificial Intelligence becomes as smart as a human”, to, “it’s what happens when a certain level of technological complexity is simultaneously achieved in AI, biotechnology (e.g. CRISPR), nanotech, networks, quantum computing and fast-food delivery.”  (OK, I added that last one … wanted to make sure you hadn’t faded out … but hey, within the scope of The Singularity even thatis on the table – no pun intended.).

I tend to resonate with the second definition … once you attain a high level of technological capability & complexity across that many domains at the same time, you have no clue – that’s NO CLUE – what can happen next.  Not “what willhappen next”, because face it, we’re nowhere near The Singularity’s level of complexity and the Mad World just keeps on surprising us.  No, Singularity-level complexity takes us into the freaky terrain of not knowing what can happen next.  Historic precedent is out the window, following the baby, bathwater and kitchen sink.  A world that complex and loaded with that much possibility has never existed before, even perhaps in the wildest, most rabid science fiction fever-dreams.  All bets are off … plan to stay in bed that morning.

To keep abreast of Singularity developments, I follow Jayshree Pandya, a frequent contributor to Forbes magazine, the Founder of Risk Group & host of Risk Roundup. To say that her coverage of technology is bleeding-edge would be a vast understatement; her breadth, depth, and insights are definitely hemorrhaging-edge.  

Over the past month or so she has featured articles touching upon different mind-stretching aspects of The Singularity, specifically the technological & economic facets (which goes along nicely with our coverage of Social, Technological, Economic & Political developments in the FastFulcrum curriculum – many thanks to Cathy Cartwright for suggesting the reshuffling of the PEST acronym).  Further, Pandya literally goes full “sticky-goopy-hemorrhaging edge” when she covers biological/digital brainsas they relate to AI.  It’s so far outside the box, it’s one county over from the factory where the boxes are made. I may not completely agree with her on all points, but I’m always intrigued by her explorations.

Anyway, Pandya’s articles are well worth following if you want to follow the suggested PEST/STEP methodology & keep a weather eye on the big picture.  Her work will expand your thinking and perspectives pertaining to the colossal technological developments that are likely to affect our daily lives in the near future.  At the very least, you will see writings on:

  • The possible advantages of mimicking an octopus brain for AI in order to sidestep the dangers of mimicking a human brain … ‘cause there’s no danger in mimicking octopi (they’re SO cuddly and TOTALLY harmless).
    • Sidebar – there’s an old Michael Crichton novel – Prey – that is kind of like Jurassic Park with nanotech. Spoiler – the nanotech becomes driven by algorithms derived from observing the hunting activities of lion prides.  Bedlam ensues (otherwise, no story).  The takeaway?  Nature is programmed to survive.  Take Inky, for example … do we want an AI that is massively powerful and an expert escape artist?  Be careful what you throw into the old Mixmaster … unintended consequences, ahoy.
  • VERY broad perspectives on geospace, cyberspace & space (GCS):
    • “From the internet to the brain-net, smart cars to electric cars and flying cars, biological engineering to bio-economies, molecular manufacturing to self-replicating systems, 3D printing to distributed additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence-driven automation to augmented intelligence, virtual reality to augmented reality, neuromorphic computing to quantum computing, stem cells to regenerative medicine, nanosatellites to small satellites, brain mapping to more, we are witnessing dramatic advances in science and technology that is pushing our exploratory limits beyond CGS.”
  • The “Digital Brain”:
    • “Neuromorphic computing and chips (chips that mimic the human brain) bring the much-needed evolution in computer hardware, allowing us to enhance machine intelligence for the complex problems that need to be solved for the future of humanity. With the evolving computing power, nations need to individually and collectively begin to evaluate where to apply the power of computing chips first. Perhaps it is time to apply the power of neuromorphic chips and make the national digital infrastructure resilient to the destructive power of electromagnetic spectrum/electronic warfare.”

Like I said: “11” solidly achieved on weird.  Stuck that landing.

But again … it’s a crazy world. In the sage words of Hunter S. Thompson, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” 

Scan the horizon, remain informed, prepare to pivot.  There’s weirdness up ahead.

Do you want to Remain Relevant in the Age of Automation?  If so, please have a look at the FastFulcrum courses that provide the substrate skills needed to do so:

Related Articles