The Singularity Is Near

January 17, 2010

I first stumbled upon Ray Kurzweil’s website some years ago. It immediately turned me off with words like “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.” It sounded like one of those “How to be happy and get everything you want” books, which rarely accomplish anything but big bucks for the author, and disappointment for the suckers who buy them.

I’ve read The Singularity Is Near now, and my opinion about the book is mixed. I don’t remember what made me look it up in the first place — but I certainly don’t regret reading it.

Kurzweil argues that evolution is an exponential process, and that each new paradigm opens the door towards a faster development of the next one. As evidence, he shows logarithmic plots such as this:

singularity countdown

If this were plotted linearly, most of the “interesting” events (like Homo Sapiens, cities, and the Internet) would be grouped together in a small chunk of recent time, compared to the time it took for life before that to evolve.

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Quotes from “Cat’s Cradle”

March 25, 2008

All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.

For this and other gems of Bokononism, read Kurt Vonnegut’s book. It’s a pretty amazing science fiction novel with original ideas about life and religion. No damn cat, and no damn cradle!

Here are just some of the interesting quotations. I should have paid more attention

  • Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either.
  • There is enough love in this world for everybody, if people will just look.
  • Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.
  • Maturity […] is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.
  • It is not possible to make a mistake.
  • Science is magic that works.
  • It is never a mistake to say goodbye.
  • A lover’s a liar,
    To himself he lies.
    The truthful are loveless,
    Like oysters their eyes!
  • Don’t be afraid of straining your brains. They won’t break.
  • History! Read it and weep!
  • Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

Added later:

  • Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.

See here for more quotes.