Glenn Beck has recently talked about the idea of “the Singularity” (a technology-evolutionary jump) with futurist Ray Kurzweil. Beck has also shown off his new 3D printer and spoken briefly about the implications of such technology. And TheBlaze has written at length about the Wiki-Weapons project by the non-profit Defense Distributed, which seeks to create a functional 3D printable gun design for anyone on the Internet to download.
Pull all these topics together with the idea that technology will soon outpace government regulation, will raise ethical questions unlike those humanity has ever faced, and the question “just what everyone is to do about it?” and you have Thursday’s night’s show on TheBlaze TV.
Beck and Kurzweil, who leads artificial intelligence engineering at Google, discussed the notion of the Singularity only a few weeks ago. It’s the concept that technology and humanity will reach a point where they’re indistinguishable from each other.
Picture 35 years from now. Beck said on the show, it’s a place where people’s brains will connect directly to the Internet and download information, not only increasing their knowledge but improving physical factors like their hearing or eyesight. It’s a place where technology will be so synced with the mind that humans could replace or repair their limbs simply by picturing them.
If you think this sounds crazy, as Beck mentioned you might, consider how far technology has come by just comparing a 1993 Macintosh computer with today’s smartphone that fits in the palm of your hand. Consider where artificial intelligence has come in the last few decades, where machines are beginning to learn, not just being programmed for a specific function by humans.
The next step will be when humans are no longer the only designers. The next step is when artificial intelligence begins designing things itself, Beck said. Now, a 3D printer, for example, is programmed by humans to build something. Someday, Beck said the machine itself will be the designer and creator. At this point, Beck said machines will surpass humans in intelligence — and that is the Singularity.
Those who believe the world is heading toward the Singularity believe it is doing so at an exponential rate, called the Law of Accelerating Returns. Some might find this scary and wonder if the rate at which technology is improving can be stopped. As Beck said on the show, experts think it’s impossible to stop. If that’s the case then how can the government regulate the technology?
“The answer is not, should not and cannot be regulation,” Beck said. “The answer is not anti-technology. …The answer is to know your ‘why’.”
Beck said technology will advance so quickly, the government will not be able to keep up with its regulation. By the time any governance is passed, the tech would be outdated.
“A new digital frontier is coming and we have to be aware of it — and the only way to survive is to tame ourselves … self governance,” Beck said.
Beck explained that advancing technology is not bad or evil, but people must be prepared to use it responsibly and be aware of the potential dangers new technology will pose. It’s like fire, according to Beck. When people know how to use it and can master it, it can drastically improve their lives. But if people lose control of it, fire can be dangerous.
The current regulations being imposed and proposed for firearms is another good example. Beck hosted Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson on his show. Wilson’s project to create a fully functional 3D printed gun recently showcased its development of a plastic, high-capacity magazine. Although there have been propositions to ban so-called high-capacity magazines, the design Defense Distributed posted on its website for such a 3D printable magazine has been downloaded more than 50,000 times within the last week, according to Wilson. With 3D printing technology, these are items that Wilson said essentially cannot be banned.
Beck acknowledged that while the use of 3D printers has its benefits in ensuring Second Amendment rights, in the wrong hands they could lead to nefarious activities as well.
And the printers themselves, although considered too expensive by many now are predicted to be like the desktop, ink-jet printer not too far in the future. Not only that but they already print beyond just plastic items.
Beck hosted Hod Lipson, a computer science professor at Cornell University and the founder Fab@Home, who has begun a project to make the printers smaller and intended for household use. Lipson pointed out commercial 3D printers can already print useful metal objects. The technology is already being used to print objects for medical purposes as well, but Beck said experts predict it will someday print pharmaceutical drugs and even food items like meat.
Watch part one of Lipson’s interview with Beck here:
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