Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pluto and the Technological Singularity

In a personal chart, an outer planet can effect permanent change. This is because as individuals we have the capacity to learn from our experience. Not so with mundane charts i.e. for countries and other collectives. As has been said, what we learn from history is that collectively we don’t learn from history. At least, not very much, and it’s soon forgotten.

The good side of this is that when e.g. Pluto passes through Sagittarius, and you get an outbreak of religious fanaticism, you know that it won’t last forever. Similarly with Pluto in Capricorn. We may end up being spied on by the government more than we’d like, but again it won’t last forever.

Actually so far I’m not too bothered about being spied on because I’m not planning on breaking the law. It’s still better than living in a village where everyone knows everyone else’s business and their history. I think that however many CCTV cameras there are around, and however many government agencies have my medical records etc, it’s better by far than living in said small village. That is my perspective on the surveillance society!

Another feature of Pluto in Capricorn will, I think, be moves towards a world economy based more on sustainability rather than endless growth. This is going to happen because resources are dwindling relative to demand. I think this will be a lot healthier. But I don’t doubt that if we manage to invent our way out of this predicament, greed and excess will return (another name for an economy based on endless growth.)

Speaking of inventions, Pluto’s passage through Aquarius from 2023 could bring new power (Pluto) to science (Aquarius). We will, of course, also be faced collectively with the shadow side of science. This is a big subject, and perhaps a bit premature! But one intriguing possibility is that Pluto in Aquarius will usher in the ‘technological singularity.’

No, I didn’t know what that meant either until a few weeks ago. A singularity is a point beyond which it becomes impossible to predict what will happen, like the edge of a black hole, or where a mathematical curve shoots off to infinity.

So the technological singularity is a point where technological progress has accelerated to such a degree that the ordinary methods of extrapolating into the future become too limited to be useful. Certainly for at least the last hundred years the rate of progress has been accelerating, and it is becoming harder and harder to keep up with the new inventions. Who, just a couple of years before it happened, could have predicted the internet and all that rapidly came with it?
So you could argue that we are already entering an age where the future is becoming harder to predict due to the accelerating pace of technological change. The technological singularity is just a logical extension of this.

Even more intriguing is the idea of a technological singularity brought about by developments in artificial intelligence to the point where you have machines that are in certain respects more intelligent than we are, and therefore able to initiate technological advances more effectively than we can. You really do get a singularity then, a whole paradigm shift where no prediction at all is possible. Even if these machines were only slightly more intelligent than us, “they could improve their own designs in ways unforeseen by their designers, and thus recursively augment themselves into far greater intelligences. The first such improvements might be small, but as the machine became more intelligent it would become better at becoming more intelligent, which could lead to an exponential and quite sudden growth in intelligence.” (Wiki)

This then leads to sci-fi scenarios such as the robots trying to take over.

In Wiki we also read: "Berglas (2008) notes that computer speech recognition is approaching human capabilities, and that this capability seems to require 0.01% of the volume of the brain. This analogy suggests that modern computer hardware is within a few orders of magnitude as powerful as the human brain."

So in 15 years time, as Pluto enters Aquarius, I expect some of these themes to start moving from the realms of science fiction and into reality.

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dawa satso said...

This is an interesting blog in a coupla unique ways one can't help but notice the number of dharma practitioners that are attracted here whether or not Dharmaruci has a chuckle over that irony.
The other part, it's a bit like sitting next to people at a bus station who don't really talk to one another looking separately up at the sky. Most peculiar in that I don't dislike it, it's just a little uh, like random molecules bumping up and not interacting as such.

The other thing, I would love to connect with Tenzin Palmo and catch up with you if you're reading this and would like to also. The spam filter doesn't allow emails unless I put in addresses manually. Are you game, Tenzin?
Your heart and being come through your words and that rush of warmth comes over me, yeah. That's another old friend who knows connections, these golden threads running through this sentient world simply are a fact of existence no matter who or where you are. And it doesn't matter as such if we even know of one another.
I had a dream Dharmaruci, a week before the tsumani of being in a church filled with water and holding small children above the surface. Long story, two dreams, containing this message:
Drop your defenses. Allow in the warmth and let yours come out. It's alright.

Janet C said...

Great post! In grad school I studied futurism and the Singularity. Since I graduated in December, I've been studying astrology. Pluto in Capricorn brings it all together.

Cheers from the muggy Upper Midwest U.S.A. and thanks for the many interesting posts!