*Cautious Optimism, tl;dr, Kenneth Udut’s thoughts vs Kurzweil Utopia*
Kenneth Udut 10/04/2015
He’s a much smarter guy than me. I’ve just had many disappointments in many great predictions through the years with promises and timeframes, so it’s my personal bias.
Then again, I can’t complain. When I was an 11 yr old kid in 1983, I got my first computer, a Tandy Color Computer 2. I saw something in the Radio Shack catalog that hooked the phone into a typewriter looking thing with a piece of paper in it.
I imagined being able to type to people all over the world on that thing and be able to ask it questions and get answers, but instead of the typewriter and paper thing it was on my new computer and TV screen. Then I went further and imagined it in my pocket.
Then I imagined everybody having it. I wrote a few little stories about it and figured “someday it’ll happen”.
In 1989, got my first modem and had a PC. Online. I never looked back.
Wanted a Zoomer in ’91. Got a Handspring Visor in ’99. My first cell phone in 2002, and iPhone 4s in 2013. [had Blackberry before that which was great but ‘not quite’].
And the smartphones and tablet explosion, seeing it kids hands, seeing a family today at Dunkin’ Donuts all happy together but on their devices; almost like a quiet family reading books at the dinner table together – I found it a nice thing.
I watched the growth of AI. My head was filled with promises in the 80s. I worked on them a little in 90/91, learning about neural networking, chaos theory ,complexity theory, and I knew that computers would eventually be able to catch up to theory and actually DO some of this stuff on a big scale. At the time, it was stuff on a VAX/VMS mainframe and some stuff I did on the PC, but I understood how it worked, and AI is not that complicated.
But there are two things that killed some of the hope in me:
In the late 1980s, the Generation 5 computer movement was dead. The big project in Japan I think just… *poof* went away. I had a lot of hopes for that as a teenager.
Then in the 90s, NOBODY talked about robotics, and AI was limited to characters in games and some stuff in Linguistics. Promising NLP but not much else.
I never expected the robots to come back and AI seemed to be the stuff of obscure dying programming languages and telephone switchboards. [nothing against Elang here – it’s an amazing language]
Then the 2010s. One after another, “We have a brain on a chip!” IBM says. One of them lets it slip out about it having a cat’s brain, but got rightly chastised for that.
Other brain on chips announcements come and go with regularity.
Developments in quantum chips have been sluggish and painful.
New nanotechnology announcements are made… then they fade away and vanish… no industry involved. No products coming out for market. Nothing new on the horizon.
So, I’m selfish I think. I’ve waited since 1990 for “foldable, disposable touch screen computers” instead of the green screen dumb terminals we were on.
Lots of advancements and I just saw the other day a really thing TV – but until it’s on the market, my skeptical flags go up again.
A prototype that doesn’t lead to industry isn’t a product but rather it’s proof of concept.
So, I’m a jaded optimist.
Between doom and gloom scenarios I’ve been hit with and The Future Is within Your LifeTime promises since I was a kid watching Beyond Tomorrow on Nickolodeon, [or Beyond 2000? I don’t remember the show], I kept getting hit by great things on one hand, and disappointments on the other hand.
None of the predictions came to pass as promised but we always seem to end up with “something else”. Something that’s great but not quite it.
I shouldn’t complain. Really, I’m grateful….
…it’s just that anytime somebody “has it all figured out”… it usually depends on the cooperation of many many people who haven’t bought into the concept and have their OWN agendas that get in the way of the Utopian dreams.
The people with their own agendas are a part of this reality and have to be taken into account when making future predictions. Politics, competing industries, al of these things have to come into play when attempting to Engineer a Future.
I don’t know if I could do any better though.
But graphs of progress on paper remind me of the graphs of progress during the late 1990s in the stock market. “Dow at 30000″ was promised; my boss COMPLETELY believed it. I was investing too. He was going into Enron and the like – even gave me a book about “The Future Of Business”…. I still have it somewhere… and EVERY company in there were the scam companies of the late 90s that were trading on phantoms and the phantoms went away.
Thankfully, I did DRIP and stuck with known industries and it worked out well. I felt bad for my boss because he lost a lot. He believed the graphs of perpetual progress.
But things ebb and flow. They go up and down. To believe, “Everything in my predictions will come true ONLY IF everybody cooperates with this” isn’t a realistic notion.
I WANT to believe.
I just can’t yet. I expect the sluggish world to get in the way at every single turn and the kind of progress he predicts has to work THROUGH the muddy slothiness of humanity to achieve its goals.
I think it will come to pass. I just have to be cautiously optimistic, that’s all.
I’m hopeful; It’s just this revolution is dependent upon what comes out of industry and changes in humanity’s attitudes. The pyramid still needs all the bottom stones firmly in place for the top cap to be put on.
But I’ve never really been the architect; I’ve always been the plumber dealing with thin pipes and old glue, trying to fit a toilet in a room where the workmen poured the concrete too high.
Or the guy putting together a house with wood that someone left out in the rain for a few days and it got a case of mold all over it I have to treat first, and all the screws are squarehead stainless steel when I wanted phillips and all the stores are closed and I can’t buy a bit, so I have to square off the drill bit with my teeth, the battery in the drill dies and I have to use it by hand.
In short, I’m always face-to-face with human and reality’s frailties. I look up from my cave in the ground at the light coming from a small hole 200 feet up, and I hope there’s something grand up there. But I’m missing arms and have to build a ladder with my feet and with only round rocks to work with.
I have dreams. In those dreams, things work on a level beyond today. Beyond tomorrow. Beyond 50 years, 100 years. I have several ideas about the future that extend to how we can fix humanity’s thinking processes today so that 5000 years from now we’re not still trapped with the Law of Excluded middle holding us back from 2500 years ago.
But then: How do we actualize the dreams?