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The last battle for the Singularity
Material posted: Publication date: 13-07-2020
Among futurists and transhumanists about the Technological Singularity much is said and written. It is believed that this is a point in development when technological development is in principle uncontrollable and irreversible, which creates drastic changes in the nature of human civilization. Usually its occurrence is associated with the advent of technology strong artificial intelligence capable of improving itself, and eventually can enter the "uncontrolled reaction" cycles of self-improvement, creating in the end a superintelligence that exceeds the intelligence of all mankind (wiki).

It is also believed that we are on the verge of singularity. So, have to wait another couple of decades, and it will happen. However, so far, no AI, no. Various new technologies are emerging, but relatively slowly. The predictions of futurologists are not in a hurry to come true, if not be a pipe dream. And everything looks like nothing much happens — in the next decade or in the next century... Are our hopes in vain? And if we can find something to do to really hasten the Singularity?

Note: In this article, there are no practical solutions and suggestions; there are no answers — only questions. We can say that this article is not independent, it is a kind of identification of the problem and at the same time the introduction of a series of articles or even a book. But the main thing is an invitation for reflection and discussion.

Battlefield — people

One of the key problems is that as you progress forward more and more, the bottleneck becomes the man himself, the human brain, its ability to obtain, process and produce information. Between the capabilities of the human brain and the tasks required to solve for the motion of progress is rapidly increasing the gap. Man is the smartest creature on the planet, but for the solution of modern scientific important task we often Balk at the bottleneck of human reason: too low speed of acquisition, processing and delivery of information.

The senses

The person receives information from the outside world with a minimum of 6 senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, vestibular apparatus). Of these bodies to obtain the abstract information and the exchange of abstract information involved only two — sight and hearing (and partially the sense of touch such as Braille for the blind).

The widest channel of information is vision. It is believed that through them, we receive about 80% of all information. According to rough estimates, the resolution of the retina of each eye is approximately 120-140 megapixels, the frequency of perception — about 25 frames per second. From the point of view of modern technology, is extremely high (it is possible to assess the video stream as about 6 gigapixels per second). You will not find a camera with the same resolution in the sale — if such cameras exist, in rare instances, are extremely expensive and are used exclusively in the research tasks.

Hearing provides us with about 16% of all information. The human ear is capable of perceiving signals with frequencies from 16 Hz to 20,000 Hz and in a wide range of amplitudes from 0 to "pain threshold" 120..140dB. Also, pulses of sound, alternating with a frequency of more than 16 Hz we perceive as a continuous sound. However, unlike vision, hearing is almost "one-dimensional", so the amount of information coming into the brain from the organs of hearing, slightly less than from the organs of vision.


The brain consists of about 100 billion neurons. For comparison, the latest processors on the order of 2 billion transistors, and the transistor is a much more simple structure than the neuron. However, the speed of transmission of nerve impulses between neurons is small: from 0.5 to 120 meters per second. On average, one synapse is 10 pulses per second, i.e. the frequency of the order of 10Hz. It is extremely little in comparison with gigagertsevyj frequencies of modern processors.

The incredible ability of the brain provided only unprecedented parallelism — in contrast to only a single CPU with multiple cores, in the brain there are a huge number of neurons simultaneously. The body of one neuron can be located up to 5000 synapses, and if we consider the total number of neurons, even though they are not all involved, it turns huge computing power.

The amount of memory our brain which scientists estimate is about 1 petabyte of information (e.g., Google's search engine handles every day, about 24 petabytes of data).

The human brain consumes only 25 watts of energy, this parameter can be called the most effective computing device on Earth.

Channels I / o

However, no matter how powerful was not the brain, all this power literally locked in the skull. The first problem is how scorzato person is able to share abstract (mainly textual) information with the outside world.

Let's start with the view

The average reading speed of a human from 200 to 250 words per minute (for English), 128-180 words per minute (Russian), depending on the language (data for non-hieroglyphic languages).
In characters is the average rate of 1500 characters per minute. If we assume one character in one byte (in scientific and technical literature, we are mainly interested in the different symbols is usually more than art, but all the same in neirolepticeski languages we approximately fit in a byte) we get channel 200 bits/sec. It's slower than the first modems!

Technology speed reading is not much increase this speed. For example, US President John F. Kennedy could read at about 1200 words per minute, which corresponds to approximately 800 bits/sec.

The speed of perception of human speech

According to research, the optimal rate of speech for reading audiobooks in the English language corresponds to 150-160 words per minute. For a personal interview — 190 words per minute. As can be seen, the speed roughly corresponds to the reading speed, so that the use of audio no special advantages adds.

And if you just watch and listen, the person may always (if not sleeping), it is purposeful work with textual information — a more difficult task. In fact, if you read all the time, especially if this is not the exciting adventure novel, and difficult to understand scientific or technical literature?

Speed of information output

Even worse with the output channel of abstract information from brain to the outside world. The most common way in the modern world — the printing on the computer keyboard. The average typing speed is 200 characters per minute, which corresponds to only 27 bits/sec! Perhaps here it would've helped program speech recognition — because the speech speed corresponds to an average speed of speech perception that more speed dial.

This is all very well for simple everyday life, like the lives of our evolutionary ancestors — primates, and quite suitable for the quality of life of many generations of people; but not so good for the purpose of achieving the Singularity.

Abstract thinking

Another fundamental problem — the fundamental inability of the human mind to work with complex, abstract information.

The treatment of "abstract" information, the brain does not operate such a huge flow of incoming visual information, which provides us with a vision, and is limited to a measly hundred bits per second. And this applies not only speed information, but also the speed of its reflection.

The memory capacity of the brain is huge, but in short the human memory can simultaneously contain only about seven objects.

Why is this happening? Biologically man is still an animal. The human brain is still designed to ensure the survival of individuals and species, mainly in the wild Savannah. The human brain was not designed for reading, typing, dealing with complex abstractions. Our vision is able to quickly process huge arrays of natural visual information — but it is necessary to quickly recognize predators lurking in the jungle and other dangers, and to find a variety of food; but the speed of our reading slower than the first modems that were manufactured in the 80-ies of the 20th century! And the speed of delivery of information and less.

Just as people are upright, but the skeleton of a man, all still not fully adapted to bipedalism (hence many diseases of the musculoskeletal system), as you are wise, but still intended for scientific thinking.

And this narrow neck of our civilization, barring our path to the Singularity.

The imperfection of the biological nature of man

The biological nature of a person also leaves its mark.

It is human nature fatigue, procrastination, exhaustion. The human brain cannot solve complex scientific problems 24 hours a day. People need rest, diversion, change of scene. Our eyes are also fatigued, we can't read too fast and too much. People occasionally want to sleep, they may have a headache, prone to illness...

The peak of our development at the age of 20-40 years; before that period of childhood when the brain is flexible, but knowledge of it is insufficient; after the aging period when health and strength with every day less. And most immersed in domestic Affairs and problems, science and progress, they are no longer interested.

Battlefield — Civilization

A huge amount of knowledge

The information was too much. We as a civilization have great knowledge, but our human resources are insufficient, even just to see with all these knowledge; modern amount of information is so huge that to cover it physically unbearable for a particular person, even a lifetime; do not read, do not listen, do not view, do not realize...

Our libraries are filled with books, but will we be able to read these books? In the world there are 130 million books, but you will not be able to read even a hundredth of a percent of that number! This is simply not enough human life.

In the world vast amounts of knowledge that are simply not available because they are somewhere buried in all this pile of information. The result is duplication and a lot of unnecessary work, which often make people not even knowing about each other.

The information revolution

One of the most important components of scientific and technological revolution — the computer revolution has brought to our lives computers and the Internet. Without exaggeration, the Internet is a breakthrough of the same magnitude as the appearance of writing once. It is believed that mankind has accumulated 2 trillion gigabytes of data, and the annual volume of Internet traffic is about 3 zettabytes. Network access has to 4.54 billion users, each of which on average spends in the network 7 hours a day. These are fantastic figures, but what we have in reality?

Human-centred information

Most of the information is not for the purpose of achieving a Singularity of no value. Not only that — this information is a closed, unstructured nature, it is mainly available in only one operation — copying, and forwarding. Most of the traffic — video, audio and images — human-centred blobs, which the computer basically can't do anything meaningful.

But even the simple text information for computers remains obscure. Search engine — a complex system, essentially a primitive crutches, adapted to the primitive human text queries.

The problem is that almost all information in the world focused on people. The very people with all their human shortcomings, which we considered above.

Print and e-book — a text in human language. Images, audio and video is generally focused on the human organs of vision and hearing for computer and represent in the General case, only a jumble of bits. All of this information is focused on the human brain, inherited a different type of perception.

This is a huge problem. The computer operates on terabytes of data and has no idea about them at all. Yes, computers facilitate us with special information such as wiring diagrams, drawings or source codes of programs, but they may not work with shared information. Basically, they can only entertain us.

Between human and computer is still a huge gap.

The avalanche of complexity

If we consider only the scientific information, we are faced with another problem: a huge, incredible complexity of modern scientific problems. The days when brilliant single could make scientific discoveries in home labs are long gone. Modern science requires professional laboratories, the most complex and sverhdorogoy equipment such as the Large Hadron Collider or LIGO interferometer, and well-coordinated work of a large number of professionals. This is impossible without support of state or major transnational corporations.

Speaking about the Singularity and one of the most important tasks of Transhumanism is the victory over old age and death, and gaining control of the biological nature of man, not to mention the huge complexity of biological systems.

One DNA molecule on average contains 100 billion atoms. A biological cell contains on average about 100 trillion atoms. Length of all DNA molecules a double set of chromosomes in one human cell is approximately equal to 2m, the Number of conformations of a single molecule of a typical protein can be more than the number of atoms in the Universe (source: Introduction to General, Organic and Biochemistry).

Some examples of the complexity

This is how biological complexity Professor Mikhail Panteleev

The transformation of one substance into another under the action of a single enzyme often can be described pretty simple formula with good accuracy, although there are plenty of exceptions. The two simplest of the enzyme, influencing each other, already form a system with nontrivial behavior: it can be observed stabilization, the presence of thresholds and switching, autowaves. Without a detailed mathematical analysis it is hard to say how she will behave. In the system of the three enzymes we have already received a full "bouquet" of dynamic regimes, including chaos and strange attractors.

It's just three of the enzyme, but the simplest of real biological cells is a network of hundreds of different enzymes, cofactors, metabolites, which in a thousand ways affect each other.

(source: Conquer old age, cancer and heart attacks; Mikhail Panteleev on biological complexity)

In 2005, the staff of the Los Alamos national laboratory managed to create a dynamic model of the ribosome synthesizing a protein molecule. It took 768 microprocessors, working for 260 days. During this time, managed to "remove" the 20 million of the recordings of only 2 nanoseconds in the life of the ribosome.

In 2011, the Chinese scientists created a simulation of H1N1 virus at the atomic level. System on GPU Mole-8.5, which has more than 2,200 NVIDIA Tesla, are able to simulate 770 picoseconds per day with a step integration time in a 1 femtosecond for 300 million atoms or radicals.

Of course, a full simulation at the atomic level is not always appropriate; in most practical cases, you can restrict some approximations. However, the enormous complexity of biological systems is manifested at higher levels.

For example, in 2013, to simulate 1 second of 1% of the human brain (1.73 billion nerve cells and 10.4 trillion synapses) took 40 minutes on a cluster of the 82 944 processors 10-petaflops K computer.

The project of modeling the brain in 2018 a modern supercomputer, consisting of a million ARM9 cores, can handle 200 trillion operations per second, it can simulate in real time only one percent of the total number of neurons (1 billion, not 100 billion).

Yes, there is progress; and I have no doubt that pretty soon will be able to simulate a full-fledged bacteria at an atomic level, and multicellular organism, and the human brain, and much more; and if not enough computational power to conventional supercomputers — will help quantum. The problem is rather different: the transition of quantity into quality. In building the bridge from the level of human understanding (which is fundamentally not become smarter) until the unthinkable huge amounts of information, which are mechanically processed with modern supercomputers, without any understanding on their part.

At the end

This article does not open something new; in fact, it is only an introduction to the problem and look at the achievement of the Singularity from another angle.

Most likely, the technological singularity will not occur by itself, as a simple result of spontaneous transition from quantity to quality, huge computing power in some kind of superintelligence, able to infinitely samosovershenstvovaniya himself. It seems to achieve the Singularity we need to make some concerted efforts. What? This is a separate issue, a very large and complex. I purposely did not include any reference to possible actions (although of course I have some thoughts on this subject) — otherwise it would be not an article but a book:) But I hope this article will serve as a kind of introduction and starting point for further research.


Tags: assessment , space

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