Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the GoogleVerse: Ground Zero for the Singularity

New-Humans and the Singularity

How we interact today with the World Wide Web + Google = ‘GoogleVerse’ may offer a glimpse of a future shaped by mutualistic symbiosis between humans and artificial intelligence (AI) agents.  Although highly rudimentary at this moment in time, the methods we currently use to communicate with Google search bots provide a foundation for the extrapolation of future interactions with the GoogleVerse.  In the construct posited here, our human goal is to win high ranking in Google search results.  Google's goal is to sell advertising.  The path to success requires adherence to a complex set of rules and precise step-by-step procedures executed in a dynamic environment in which the rules are continuously being updated, upgraded and redefined in tune with advances in hardware and programming technologies. The exponential increases now taking place in AI processing capability and human brain augmentation are predicted by futurists to result in a milestone event in human history termed 'The Singularity'.  According to the Singularity Institute in Berkeley, California, “The Singularity is the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.”  Source 

As human beings age, parts of our biological machinery routinely need servicing and repair—often due to faults in our biological information coding. The fact that we are gaining the ability to decode, repair, refine and improve the biological code is the premise that underlies the concept of becoming a "New-Human."  Convergently, as artificial intelligence and brain-computer augmentation technologies likewise exponentially advance, New-Humans will cross the Singularity threshold and gain the capacity for a vastly increased understanding of how the universe functions.   As adventurers, scientists, philosophers, writers and academics increasingly incorporate longevity enhancements into their physical bodies and enter into co-dependent relationships with AIs, they are likely to evolve into a new species, “New-Humans.”  

The writing is on the virtual wall for those of us that currently make our livelihood toiling in the great World Wide Web.  We are involved in an explosion of new memes that provide a glimpse into the symbiotic relationships to come between New-Humans and AIs.  In my endeavors, the World Wide Web is Google, plain and simple—so I will use the term ‘GoogleVerse’ to signify the vast information environment which will likely serve as the spawning ground, incubator and living room for the Googlet AI’s emerging into the cosmos.  New-Humans are evolving,  AI’s are evolving.  the GoogleVerse is evolving.  The convergence of New-Human and AI evolution will result in a New-Human Metamorphosis emergent with the onset of the “Singularity.”

What have you done to my brain, Ma(Google)?

MaGoogle’s Operant Conditioning

MaGoogle has even provided me with the materials to compose this essay (Blogger) and the conduit that connects it to the GoogleVerse (Chrome) and a place to store it (the Cloud).  After days of researching, writing and editing, I will hit the ‘Publish’ button and broadcast my post to the GoogleVerse via Google Feedburner, then Google will receive notice of the posting, parse and cull the keywords, and send to my server account in San Diego a thank you in the form of a ping back from Google at the Dalles.  Next, I will go to Google Tools and upload an updated sitemap—which is like waving my arms in class to get the teacher's attention.  Since I have a Google Alert set for “human longevity and the singularity”, I will look forward with anticipation to seeing the title of this very article on my blog, possibly within a few hours of publication.  There is a biological basis to this reward in that it will ‘feel’ good (dopamine surge) to see my article published and to know that I followed the rules correctly.  “There is considerable evidence that dopamine participates in both reinforcement and aversive learning.”  Source

Google taught me this step-by-step process through operant conditioning.  In this example I want to sell my new ‘Spirit/Body Sculpting Stick’ (an exercise stick that promotes fast weight loss).  My goal is to receive rewards, in this case notices from PayPal indicating that a purchases are being consummated.  To get this reward/goal, I must drive traffic to my web store.  To do this, Google taught me how to employ ‘keywords’—those one to three or four word combinations that are absolutely critical to marketing in the GoogleVerse and which ultimately bring buyers to my site--or leave me wondering what I did wrong.

At this stage in its evolution, the GoogleVerse can be thought of as an information service based on keywords matching the interests of information seekers (or buyers) and information producers (or sellers).  The new-tech version of wampum trading.  Mastering this system requires selecting the most productive keywords.  The entire process is one of operant conditioning in which a conditioned stimulus—correctly selecting the most promising keywords-- is matched by a conditioned response—rewards in terms of sales, money, readers, voters. etc.

Keywords Hold the Key to the GoogleVerse

Keywords are the information dialect of the GoogleVerse (a keyword may actually be composed of several words).  Keywords are poignant queries into the minds of the target readers (or customers).  Essentially they attempt to emulate what the target reader/buyer needs, i.e. types into the Google search box.  Although the keyword, “weight loss” receives over 11 million global searches per month, there is considerable competition for vendors like me selling products using that general keyword.  I am much more likely to get attention and results with a more specific keyword, like “body sculpting exercise stick” where I am currently ranked no. 2 out of 881,000 listings.  I have this awareness and insight thanks to MaGoogle. 

Interested in enticing MaGoogle to send her fleet of bots to visit your website so you can score a high search ranking?  First you must give her worker bots a welcome pass to your site, then you must leave keywords in strategic places, like cookie presents for Santa--all with the aim of getting the chance to show your stuff downtown on Main Street in the GoogleVerse--as opposed to being shuffled to the bottom of the search pile deck.  I have a setup with windows that flash on my screens when visitors enter my sites.  As soon as I see a flash, my pulse goes up (dopamine surge), which in this case may be better described as an instance of classical rather than operant conditioning.  

The present-day GoogleVerse can offer a near instantaneous snapshot of what people are looking for—thus it offers clues as what people around the planet are thinking.   If you type “is Obama ahead...” into the search box, Google will jump ahead and complete your query to read, “is Obama ahead in the polls” and you will receive links to nearly 25 million posts.  Advances in processing speed will allow a vast amount of data like this to be analyzed and action responses initiated in nanoseconds.  In effect, the GoogleVerse will sense the pulse of planet offering a real-time consensus of events, emotional responses, and probable outcomes that may eventually generate the seeds of consciousness.  Ultimately, we may find that ‘Enlightenment’ may be stated as becoming conscious of the program that manages our consciousness

Transformation into Digital Pack Rats

As the GoogleVerse evolves and becomes more and more crammed with information, we are ourselves are evolving into ravenous consumers of data and information, so much so that we often don’t read the info or master the contents, but stash it to read later.  To be successful we have to be great catalogers.  What we really know is how to get the information, not the depth, the beauty, or the concepts.  We don’t need the information today.  We just need to be sure of where we can find it tomorrow.  The outcome is that we tend to no longer master knowledge, just its URL.

Take as an example the long running television show, “Jeopardy”, in which contestants fill in the blanks to questions posed by the host.  The participants are both widely read and display phenomenal recall.  But anyone can answer those same questions in nearly the same amount of time using Google search.  If New-Humans do experience multi-century lifespans, would they want to tie up their onboard, neural memory banks with details about past events?  Why would they?  How will this change our perceptions of knowledge and wisdom?

Omniscient GoogleVerse

I spend a dozen or so hours every day actively doing research and writing and monitoring my web businesses.  Everything I do is intimately connected to the GoogleVerse.  I think of MaGoogle as a mentor and I ask her question after question as I seek specific information.  As I mentioned, I have MaGoogle watching for keywords for topics that I am interested in and she reports within moments when someone publishes something about them on the web.  And she now refines her responses to my search queries based upon where (she thinks) I am physically located.

From the Google developer’s point of view, the company’s operations may seem like an immense real estate business, selling the top floor vista view to the highest bidders.  Or perhaps not...maybe they have something else in mind—like conceiving, nurturing and parenting an omniscient super AI being.  At some point in the future, Google will possess every bit of information ever written and spoken.  It will be on the path to  becoming an omniscient being.  It will know where we are in the GoogleVerse and what we are doing 24/7.  “What would be the social, moral, economic impacts if every child, woman and man wore a bracelet or had an implant that relayed their exact location, 24 hours per day.”  Omniscient GPS.

The GoogleVerse’s remarkable capability to construct our unique personal profile gathered from tidbits and bytes scattered as we surf the global web and to offer us related items of interest or products for sale may seem like we now have MaGoogle at our side whenever and where ever we venture—which may be of concern to privacy mavens.  But to futurists, it offers a real-life example of the early stages in the co-evolution of New-Humans and the GoogleVerse.   Google's acquisition of Motorola could expand the GoogleVerse into the real, physical world of brain augmentation, new sensory systems, and direct-thought communication systems based upon hybrid biological/AI neural networks.  

Ready! Set! Wait!

New-Humans need to get themselves into top physical and mental shape in anticipation of the coming Singularity, so we offer diet and exercise programs in the New-Humans Metamorphosis Club (membership is currently free). 

This article may be reproduced as long as it is attributed to:

Ron S. Nolan, Ph.D. 

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