Left Behind

I’m led to believe that the Singularity could happen abruptly, enough so that you might miss it if you weren’t paying attention. Two things have me wondering if it’s already happened.

One, I keep seeing this ad for “Free installation of solar system.”

Two, I was reading a book by Nancy Kress, in which there is a scene where our heroine encounters a seriously gene-engineered dog. It has four adorable pink ears, a rabbit’s tail, and eyes as large as saucers. But it also says “Hello” to our heroine. She thinks “Dogs couldn’t talk. The vocal equipment didn’t allow it, the law didn’t allow it, the canine IQ didn’t allow it. ”

But, my dog says “Hello”.

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31 Responses to Left Behind

  1. ursiform says:

    Psychotropics would explain the latter.

  2. j says:

    Installation may be free, but you have to buy the solar system. It is singularly expensive and you need a large place to install it.

  3. TWS says:

    That’s just for the basic package with no habitable planets and no scenic gas giants. All rocky nothings for the most part.

    • gcochran9 says:

      How much for the deluxe version, the one with a habitable-but-Jurassic Venus, canals on a Mars with a dying but advanced civilization, and a Mercury with one side always facing the Sun?

  4. Free “installation” is the give away. The product must be a fake. The real ones install themselves with a big bang, whether you ordered it or not.

  5. st says:

    Right. I knew you would notice. Just … why it had to be a dog opening your eyes and not some of your humble readers?
    Now figure that. It is a big sample to study, 7 billions of human beings. A honest researcher would need some help and available technicalities to do so. Like tools – or study aides, collecting information for the subject examined, which is pretty big – the above mentioned methusalean #. Will need lots of helpers, the hypothetical researcher, to collect the data and sort it; but, voila – you got Facebook where everyone (except indians, they do not have access to it, but for this MZ will provide India with free internet) would store its information voluntarily and singlehandedly – like all important dates and occasions of his life, along with few singlehandedly taken and uploaded photos of him/herself, making notes on the story of his life in intelligible way, again, single handedly.

    Then you have youtube, to connect the life history with vivid videos, documenting these life events and have behaviour of the studied subject visualised (as the subject itself); again, in order to reduce expenses, each subject would shoot and upload its video information singlehandedly to a designated place – i mean youtube.

    And then again you have 23andme (me?really?) that would provide the individuals studied with the tools to self collect the genetic data about themselves and send it to a certain designated place – i mean 23&me; so the aspiring researcher has every detail required for a good, honest research handy – biology, personality traits and physical appearance of most of his7 billion subjects, stored conveniently in accessible form for indexing and researching – with the help of the subjects themselves which have in fact self indexed themselves and their lives and helped with the sisyphean task of collecting their own visual, biological and psychological data – all ready to go digital. Like silicon copies.

    Then one would ask why? Why a dog would start talking? No clue, but I know the answer of the next one:
    -why now? Short answer – something important must have happened exactly in the period studied and examined. Something that requires answers.

    I wonder what that might be.

  6. AppSocRes says:

    I read someplace that dogs are the only animals besides humans to understand certain human gestures, e.g., pointing. My personal experience has been that many dogs can understand very well both many vocal expressions and expressions of human emotions by vocalization, body language, and other means; although they lack the self-control (or maybe IQ) to always respond appropriately. Dogs have been co-evolving with humans for a long time. Some of this is selective breeding but the rest is probably just strong natural selection for traits that help dogs get along with humans and stay out of the cooking pot. I suspect that both forms of selection have been successful enough in dogs that the kinds of genetic engineering of this species envisioned by Ms. Kress would be disastrously unsuccessful.

  7. st says:

    D-r Cochran, OT: do you think a single soldier could have invaded Rome in 5th century AD? Let say Attila the Hun, an army of one, crosses the border. And he attacks. Will be there anyone to confront him? So he enters the empire, attacks the border garrisons, but no one fights him – they condemn him instead and meet him with resolution. And he slaughters them and carries on. The senate votes a resolution and organises a protest under the slogan “we are charlee” (in latin). But he keeps advancing and attacks the confronting army. They protest as well, and keep shouting je sui charlie, sum charlie. And he keeps killing. Now he approaches Rome, and rome sends the Pope to negotiate. je sui charlie, negotiates the Pope, unsuccessfully.
    Do you think Attila could have taken Rome alone, once he realises that there is no one to fight him, that 15 millions of inhabitants would just chant sum charlee while he slaughters everyone he wants. Do you think he would become king? Do you think romans would start chanting love live the king once he sits on the throne, no one try to prevent him?
    Apologies for the OT. I think once he realises all they do is keep chanting, one man could invade the whole empire – as long as there is no one to fight him. And they will accept him – as King. At His Orders.

    • Jim says:

      Sounds like a Monty Python skit.

      • st says:

        You think? Theatre and mockery is not at all tolerated in the islamic tradition. That’s why Avicena’s (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Sīnā) translation of Aristotle’s “Poetics” is crap. Avicena could not even get the meaning of “theatre” and “catharsis” right. So I do not think Monty Python skits have bright future in the world to come.
        Besides, in real life Attila was stopped by a Pope on his way to Rome – that was the best romans could have think of at this time. Attila was on his way to rome hoping to marry the wife of a senator, who had sent him a wedding ring – and her heart, supposedly. After meeting the Pope half way, he had a change of heart and took the bag of gold from the Pope instead. I guess senator’s wife had been disappointed. And no, her name was not Merkel. But there was no roman army to meet him anyway. Not a single soldier.

    • Peter Lund says:


      • st says:

        Great. Too bad everyone’s CAROLVS when CAROLVS·MAGNVS is needed. But he’s long gone, it seems. Or PROFLIGATUS, at best. So be it.

        • Peter Lund says:

          I’d say we need CAROLVS·MARTELLVS, his grandfather. Basically, we need a reconquista and lots of defenestrations.

    • melendwyr says:

      If no one responded to him other than Charlie-chanting, I fail to see how he could become king. Kings are granted social authority, this guy just kills people.

  8. “I’m led to believe the singularity could happen abruptly.”

    The singularity yappers certainly do lead people to believe things. They usually ramble on in hard to follow intelligent sounding talk, much like a bad artist will try to hide his lack of talent by painting abstractly. But still out there in there in the not too distant future we have a singularity approaching but nobody knows when or how. The yap goes in two directions. 1) computers will get smarter than us and decide “we watched these idiots muck it up long enough, let’s take over.” 2) We genetic engineer smarter people who engineer smarter people who… well you get the idea.

    I would love to see #2 happen, and #1 sounds highly unlikely for a number of reasons. Now if some scientists somewhere actually figure out how to make the next generation smarter without making a significant number of them batshit crazy of worse what are they going to do with this information?

    They could sell it individually for a nice fat down payment on a house but most of the world will say banned faster than Cochran can. But not all will. One country will say screw the copyright laws, we are stealing the process and let every couple in our country that wants a baby get mind glasses for free. They always throw some stupid euphemism on controversial projects, mind glasses sounds about right. Well the youngsters will grow up in better brains land and lo and behold the nerdy youngsters are stopped from swamping all the best schools by quotas. Now the rest of the world really really takes notice. A hefty black market for the service has slowly grown in all the banned countries and those kids are banned from the best schools as well. But the abominations (the other sides’ stupid euphemism) educate themselves through their own institutions and absolutely kill it competing in business. The bans get removed and the full scale singularity happens.

    History is written of the present times and wouldn’t you know it, they talk about how quaint things were in the good old days when the simps were the overwhelming majority.

  9. Urban birds might be smarter than their country cousins https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/03/22/urban-birds-may-be-smarter-than-their-country-cousins-new-study-suggests/

    Stress a population so that only the smarter survive and guess what happens. Take all that stress off and let everybody survive and guess what happens. But we better limit this talk to one or two obscure science blogs because it’s troubling.

    • The jungle crows in Tokyo are frighteningly intelligent. Look up some YouTube videos to see examples of their cunning. I think they’re just biding their time, waiting for the Japanese to die out in a century or so, and then they’ll take over.

  10. Some Troll's Serious Discussion Alt says:

    the law didn’t allow it

    This is a solid debunking of the other two points, no? The law occasionally asks for the impossible, but rarely bans it.

    What I’m trying to say is, if you see a cop, throw your dog a steak. It’ll shut him up for a while.

  11. Andrew Ryan says:

    The Dogs of Babel is a novel that revolves around man interrogating his dog to find out how his wife died (the dog is the only witness). At one point he seeks out a seriously creepy cult that is attempting surgical methods to give dogs the means to speak.

  12. iffen says:

    At least the dog speaks English instead of Chinese.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of dawgs: they’ve lost paternal care, but not bitch on bitch aggression; y’all think it’s just the former having been genotypically more complex, or is the latter still useful somehow?

  14. MawBTS says:

    It seems there are many more paperclips around my desk than there used to be.

  15. IC says:

    In biological world, very few singularity possibility exists. Limiting factors kick in soon or later.

    However, in technology, singularity is very possible. Deep mind AI (alpha Go victory) is an example.

    DEEP MIND AI is capable of self-learning, not like any AI before. This kind AI really has almost unlimited potential which can over takes any human intelligence. In future, solution to cancer treatment and many other tough challenge might be solved by this type of AI.

  16. Rick says:

    Statistically, there are only a few options.

    Life intelligent enough to create AI is and will always be incredibly rare or unique.
    AI always quickly realizes that colonizing other worlds is just prolonging their inevitable end when the universe grows cold. As soon as it gets smart enough, it gives up.
    Life arose on Earth very very soon after life became a possibility.

    • j says:

      Rick: It is YOU with your human anno 2016 intelligence that think that the universe grows cold and colonizing other worlds is just prolonging the inevitable agony and death. A machine with AI may discover instead that the universe is warming up, and may even think out some solution or way out. Machines never give up.

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