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Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment (The Frontiers Collection) Hardcover – 13 Apr 2013
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"The book presents a clear, balanced, critical study and discussion around one of the most neglected hypotheses of our recent time - the Singularity Hypothesis. The book focuses on the technological singularity, notably the intelligence explosion and the possibility of the super-intelligence and its consequences. ... The book poses a challenge and opens the way for future research." (Ilya Levin, Head of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Department, School of Education, Tel-Aviv University, June 2013)
"A 'who’s who' of thinking on the Singularity, the volume is notable for having both leading thinkers and critics of the visions behind what may (or may not) be one of the most important events to come in all of human history." (P.W. Singer, author of the book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century and Director, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings, June 2013)
"Eden and colleagues have produced a remarkably thorough survey of contemporary expert thinking concerning the technological singularity. It is particularly impressive that there is a whole section, rather than just a token chapter, dedicated to skepticism about its occurrence. The inclusion of short responses to most chapters is also highly valuable. The only issue that I was sorry to see omitted - and this may well be because too little can yet be said about it - is whether recursive self-improvement of the kind probably required for the singularity may be provable impossible, in the same sort of sense as the "halting problem". All in all, this volume will provide a wide range of audiences with an extremely timely and high-quality account of what we think, know and do not know about what could be the most transformative event in human history." (Aubrey de Grey, gerontologist, Chief Science Officer, SENS Research Foundation, May 2013)
"'Singularity Hypotheses' can be seen as a major sign of the impending birth of a rigorous new field of studies, perhaps known as 'Singularity Studies'. ... the editors are to be congratulated on insisting that the Technology Singularity is a topic well worth analysis, and for enabling this ground-breaking round of discussion to take place. Even where I disagreed with individual viewpoints expressed - which was often - I found myself confronted by useful new thinking models or thought-provoking examples. The diverse essays in 'Singularity Hypotheses' can provide the beginning of serious classification of the issues and risks which will increasingly occupy the public attention ... . The editors of 'Singularity Hypotheses' have shown real leadership in addressing this subject, despite its present-day immaturity." (David W. Wood: Chair, London Futurists; co-founder and Executive VP, Symbian; Principal, Delta Wisdom, May 2013)
"Singularity hypotheses argue that human society is close to a transformative moment in which Artificial Intelligence or biological enhancements will change, and perhaps destroy what we have traditionally understood by ‘humanity’. This volume offers a wide range of essays that explicate, defend and criticize a range of singularity theories. The best introduction I know of to some profound debates about our future as a species." (David Christian, author of "Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History", Macquarie University, Sydney, and WCU Professor, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, May 2013)
"There's so much hype and skepticism around the technological singularity that it's difficult to find a balanced discussion. But this volume has done just that nicely. Not only do the essays present the case for and against the singularity, as well as its implications, but each essay is followed by a short critical response to keep the discussion honest at each stop. For anyone interested in the technological future, this is a unique and much-needed contribution to the field."(Dr. Patrick Lin, California Polytechnic State University, April 2013)
"Riveting. This is one of the more balanced and insightful commentaries on the pragmatics and the possibilities of the continuing co-evolution of computing and humanity." (Grady Booch, Chief Scientist for Software Engineering at IBM Research, March 2013)
"Finally the Technological Singularity has become a socially, philosophically, and scientifically acceptable topic regarded worthy of investigation. ... This book seems very timely, given the largest research excellence award in history (1 billion Euro) just went to developing the most detailed simulation of the human brain." (Marcus Hutter, Professor in the RSCS at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, March 2013)
From the Back Cover
Singularity Hypotheses: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment offers authoritative, jargon-free essays and critical commentaries on accelerating technological progress and the notion of technological singularity. It focuses on conjectures about the intelligence explosion, transhumanism, and whole brain emulation. Recent years have seen a plethora of forecasts about the profound, disruptive impact that is likely to result from further progress in these areas. Many commentators however doubt the scientific rigor of these forecasts, rejecting them as speculative and unfounded. We therefore invited prominent computer scientists, physicists, philosophers, biologists, economists and other thinkers to assess the singularity hypotheses. Their contributions go beyond speculation, providing deep insights into the main issues and a balanced picture of the debate.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Many of the arguments here can be found in other places, but the collection is much more than the sum of its parts. It imposes a dialectical logic on the discussion whereby every essay is responded to with one or more critical essays. The introductory essay, which can be read free on amazon.com, raises a very well thought out set of questions that will define debate on the singularity for years to come. The essays that follow provide thoughtful, comprehensive and insightful answers to the questions.
The skeptics are given more than ample opportunity to develop their arguments, which are then subjected to serious criticism. The criticisms are telling: many of the skeptics demolish straw men. They go to great pains to demonstrate that no one can "prove" the singularity with mathematical or logical certainty, something which none of the authors in the volume assert. Much of the skepticism is addressed to Ray Kurzweil's more popular work, rather than to the more careful state-of-the-art futurism in this volume. The skeptics are actually more "fideistic" (arguing from faith) than the scientists (I won't call them "believers") who do their best to assess the likelihood and nature of a singularity.
The skeptics are perhaps most convincing on the issue of timing. But even here, the criticism applies more to Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near than to the essays in this book which have absorbed and incorporated the criticisms of Kurzweil. These essays admit what we don't know, but have the courage to make the most of what we do. They accept the challenge of predicting likely turning-points in the medium-term future of information technology, and of suggesting what we can do to prepare for them.
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