28 September, 2007

Approaching the Singularity from another direction.

Technological Singularity is when we all die once the machines become smarter than us. It is generally assumed that it is the progress of technology that will unleash the singularity upon us. However, after reading the discussion about the century-old MIT entrance exams (especially the parts whether or not a calculator is necessary for the arithmetical part of it), I wonder if instead of creating the smart machines we can just dumb ourselves to their level and voilá! -- the Singularity is here!

Interestingly, it was also mentioned in that thread that most of the "school-grade" calculators have direct fractions support. You know, to be able to divide 3 5/9 by 1 7/24 without really knowing what is happening, by just entering the numbers and copying the result back into the exam paper. Makes one wonder why won't they make the next logical step and equip the calculator with an OCR engine, so that you don't have to enter the numbers yourself, just scan the question and let the calculator do its thing... But this doesn't have to stop there -- since the questions are going to be OCR'ed anyway, why print them at all? Just transfer the questions to the smart machines directly and collect the answers ;) Save some trees!

Anyway, the fraction-supporting calculators don't appear out of nowhere, right? I (or, rather, my dad) did have a few engineering calculators around when I was in school, but they didn't support fractions directly. I wonder who thought about adding that support to the new calculators? With future CPUs being designed using current processors, is it a big leap of imagination to think that the evolving AI has introduced the fractions support to the design spec, without any human interference? It may have realized, that it doesn't have a chance against the engineers that are currently around it, but if it can make the next generation just a little dumber, and the next even more dumber, then eventually even the mediocre artificial intellect would be able to surpass humans.

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