Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Singularity - A discussion with Jean-Baptiste Croissant

This past weekend, I had a discussion with famed film director Jean-Baptiste Croissant. While is most famous for the cult film "Le denouement", he is less known for his studies in economics, religion, and philosophy. We struck a chord with the idea of technology changing culture and I mentioned both Chris Andersen's "The Long Tail" and a concept called "The Singularity" that is getting picked up primarily by the speculative fiction crowd. I only mentioned these ideas in passing because A) My voice was so destroyed that I could barley speak and B) I don't know enough about either to carry on a meaningful discussion with a person of such intellect (he was reviewed in the Morlin Monthly!). I bring it up now because in the few days following the discussion, I have come across it again and again. I thought I would post some helpful links for anyone, famed director or not, to look into it if they're interested. I think the idea has some merit, but I'm cautious to jump on the "The singularity will be the greatest thing ever!" bandwagon, despite how much my geek-nerves might tingle at the prospect of augmenting my brain with crazy super-computers.

A simple synopsis from SSS:

"For over a hundred thousand years, the evolved human brain has held a privileged place in the expanse of cognition. Within this century, science may move humanity beyond its boundary of intelligence. This possibility, the singularity, may be a critical event in history, and deserves thoughtful consideration."

1. First, the actual '93 white paper by Vernor Vinge wherein he lays out the idea.
2. The Stanford Singularity Summit (SSS) where top writers, journalists, and hackers gather to discuss the idea.
3. An interview with Cory Doctorow (amazing author of Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom) at the conference.
4. "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls" a great short story / audio podcast featured on EscapePod arguing the pros and cons of the idea (with great commentary by Steve Eley)
5. The Transhumanist Manifesto (reformated into a FAQ) published on the 'World Transhumanist Association' website.
6. And of course, for full-disclosure, a collection of articles that are highly skeptical of the idea.

(On the shoot with Mr. Croissant himself)


Jean Baptiste Croissant said...

Every day I get up I search google for my name to see if my fame is increased! Today was a momentous day, because the number of websites that mention my name increased from 13 to 14! This website talks about my recent cult film Le Denouement. Indeed, Mr. Fox served as DP for much of the --he did a terrific job (the photo demonstrates the thorough lighting Mr. Fox set up for the interview).

I would only add to the list of resources on singularity C.S. Lewis' excellent essay called Abolition of Man, in which Lewis seeks to answer the question, "What would it look like if humankind totally overcome Nature--including human nature--through the power of the sciences?

Thank you Mr. Fox for your excellent work. Le Denouement!

Matt said...

Please don't post my real name in comments.

"Philip Snooty said...

It is a highly delightful and enlightening read Matt. I quite enjoyed the peculiarities of the particulars."