Neil deGrasse Tyson on Ray Kurzeil's Singularity Hypothesis

Friday, February 1, 2013

Does the Singularity movement amount to nothing more than a scientific-intellectual cult?  Astrophysicist and popular science presenter Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks that maybe it does.
At a recent event, Neil deGrasse Tyson answered the following question:

What do you think of the other type of Singularity - that is, the Kurzweilian, technological singularity? Do you think we will transcend our humanism in this century as some think we will?

Tyson is a popular astrophysicist and outspoken science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. From 2006 to 2011 he hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy!

Neil deGrasse Tyson

SOURCE  Ryan Gallagher

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3 comments: Leave Your Comments

  1. As a skeptic myself I must warmly approve of all these posts highlighting critics of Singularitarian thinking. Neil Tyson is one of my most esteemed role models, a staunch and inspirational supporter of science. But once again the criticism rather missed the mark I am afraid, he doesn't seem to address the core of singularity thought, rather only a shallow straw man of it.

    Kurzweil and others don't predict humans will become machines in the cold calculating cannot-appreciate-subjectivity sense. That is laughable and I am as much looking forward to greater art and exploration of the inner world of the mind as I am anything else about future technology. A perfect brain simulation or replica would duplicate the brain's existing method of subjective reasoning and emotion and metaphor, by simulating the precise synapses that create these phenomena. At least in theory! But the point that "kurzweil's singularity MEANS we will be uploaded into logically calculating computers and be unable to appreciate art" is just such a misrepresentation I am embarrassed for Tyson here.

  2. Great comments Rand. The fact that the Singularity dialog is spreading and becoming more mainstream is important. Getting popular figures to discuss it and spread the debate is really an important part of what we are trying to do.

  3. Thanks for your candid response to my answer. And Rand, no need to feel embarrassed for me. What good does that do? Let me feel embarrassed for myself. But that will require a better rebuttal than you have supplied. If you look closely at my comments, I simply suggested that the day our computers have captured all neurosynaptic possibilities of the human mind, will long precede the computer's ability to emulate our illogical conduct, because computers are fundamentally logical constructions. And I further suggested that when either or both happen, the transition from before singularity "BS" to post singularity "PS" will not be as profound as its adherents advertise. Thanks again for your interest. -NDTyson, New York City