People's versions of the Apocalypse are particular to their culture. When I lived in rebel Humboldt County, it was all about the red dawn, visions of economic and/or ecological collapse, etc. Down in Silicon Valley, you get a lot more people talking about a technocalypse, some variation on Singularity theory, concern that AI will undo us all. Additionally, the recent revelations of the NSA's vast surveillance programs have cast a shadow over the optimistic vibe that comes long with a growing internet.
In this post, I want to talk about why I believe humanity will likely not be overmatched by machines, with bonus observations on how digital democracy can still thrive in an era of Big Data Big Brother.
Moore's Law Has Been Broken For About Ten Years
There is no good account of how "powerful" the human mind is as an information processing system. There are random-ass guesses from futurists and AI researchers, but nobody really knows what the capabilities are for the mind to run, let alone how to compare it to silicon based computers. That said, the random-ass guesses generally conclude that it will take a lot of CPU power to model a brain. Like, more than all the computing power that exists in the world today.
No big deal, say the preachers of AI - computing power is growing ever more rapidly, because Moore's law, etc. But that's not actually true. Moore's "law" was more of a smart observation: that circuit density was doubling about every 18 months. However, this hasn't been true for a while — Moore's law is collapsing, because of the physical limits of silicon.