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The prophet of the Israeli singularity

High-tech man Yankee Margalit actively supports the singularity idea of ​​Ray Kurzweil, the world's leading futurist - and perhaps also the most controversial. Kurzweil believes we will reach a future where computers will be smarter than humans * Last week he lectured on the subject at MIT's "Back to the Future" conference

Yankee Margalit. From the People and Computers website
Yankee Margalit. From the People and Computers website

A conference of the MIT Forum was held in Tel Aviv about a week ago, which was attended by a wide variety of people, most of them entrepreneurs and CEOs. Your faithful servant also managed to get started as part of his role as a researcher at the Center for Technological Forecasting. And the truth? It was really, really interesting. I thought I would share with you mainly one of the lectures that excited me and the audience in particular: the lecture by Yankee Margalit, founder, chairman and CEO of the software company 'Aldin'.

Yankee didn't just focus on the future, but on the really big question - when it will happen. And the future, according to Yankee, is closer than ever. He approaches with increasing steps, and with each step he gains momentum. And this whole race to the future started already 13.7 billion years ago, just a little after the big bang. And he is about to make the big leap in the coming years, and precisely in a field that should be completely opposite to the orientation of Yankee the computer man.

"In 1978 I built my first computer and it excited me. I liked the idea that I could program reality." he tells But after many years the big change came, Winky went to the right side of the force (from the point of view of a biologist like me).

"In 2010 I started studying biology, and it came from the recognition that there is a computer that has existed much longer than the computer I built thirty years ago, and that is the human computer. This human computer has opened up today to our possibility to program it. Sometimes when I sit at night and write software that looks for gene sequences in the human genetic code, I have a feeling that in a second I will print the gene from the genome on the computer, eat it in a pill, improve the function of my internal computer - and return to programming the external computer. These are two different computers. It's not just the silicon and biological computer, but some kind of scientific knowledge that accumulates in the combination between the two computers."

Yankee embraces the understanding that we, organic humans too, are nothing more than a complex piece of engineering. One that took place at the hands of semi-random evolution, but still - just a machine. And a machine with very modest origins.

"Just four billion years ago, a self-replicating organic molecule evolved for the first time - a self-replicating RNA molecule. I'm told that computers don't think, but that's not true. They think, but they don't live. They don't replicate. But they think better and better all the time, just differently from people. But that's not their problem. But that RNA molecule that replicates first is alive - it replicates." says Yankee. From that single molecule, all life on Earth developed in a slow and gradual evolution, which eventually led to the design of the sophisticated human brain. And today we have reached such a level of perfection that our children are no longer just flesh and blood, but also made of silicon. The children of our thought are the computers. And computers can have their own children too.

"I claim that the gap between human and artificial is beginning to shrink. Soon computers will start having children. They may not be seen as children as we know them, but when artificial intelligence creates software by itself, or when it creates another artificial intelligence, these are actually children."

Yankee actively supports the singularity idea of ​​Ray Kurzweil, the world's leading - and perhaps most controversial - futurist. Kurzweil believes that we will reach a future where computers will be smarter than humans. According to Kurzweil's future, the laptop I buy for myself in 2040 will have better decision-making ability than I do. In 2045, I will already be able to buy for a thousand dollars a computer that will be a billion times more powerful than the human brain. From the moment computers understand how to program themselves (which is already happening today) and will be smart enough to design new generations of computers that will be even more sophisticated, there will be a chain reaction of self-improvement circuits. And when the machines are smart enough to communicate with the human race as equals... what then? Will it turn out that we ourselves have created the greatest enemy of the human race, or have we gained the best friends we could aspire to?

These are all thoughts for the distant future, but in the meantime I personally doubt Kurzweil's vision (and along with me several of the artificial intelligence experts), especially in terms of the schedule he sets. Mountains and hills of hope were hung in artificial intelligence during the twentieth century, but as the years passed we discovered how difficult it is to imitate the operation of the human brain in analyzing and understanding the world around it. The reason Kurzweil continues to believe that we will reach intelligent computers even before the middle of this century, lies in the logarithmic technological development, or in Hebrew Tshacha - the exponential.

What does exponential growth mean? Here is a small illustrative exercise from Yankee's lecture. Get up from the chair and take twenty steps in a certain direction. You will find that you have not progressed much - at most you have reached the balcony and stopped there (hopefully). Now we will change the rules of the game: in each step of the twenty steps, you must go twice as far as you did in the previous step. Where will you go now? Almost unbelievably you will find that in these twenty exponentially increased steps, you will now reach Europe. And in twenty-four steps you will be close to the moon.

Today there are quite a few technologies, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, which are undergoing exponential growth. Moore's law, which describes the growth in the capabilities of chips every year, has also been progressing exponentially for decades.

but what? Carbon based organisms, like you and me, are not built for that kind of spinning and acceleration. They don't know how to swallow it. afraid of him Adults don't know what to do with iPhones and Facebook. Children use them without thinking at all - but in twenty years they will not know how to function in the face of the innovative and revolutionary technologies that will arise as a result of the exponential growth continuing vigorously.

But does the exponential growth necessarily lead to silicon-based smart computers? Not necessarily. Yankee believes we can also make biological computers. He cites as an example the successful attempts of Craig Venter to produce bacteria containing synthetic DNA - in fact, to create life from inanimate substances.

"We created life. For those who haven't noticed, in the last months between the flotilla and Turkey there was a very significant headline in the newspaper: Computers and people created life. The bacterium we created has no father and mother, but it has God. It has a creator, and that creator is named Craig Venter, and in his DNA signature are signed the thirty-five lab workers who created him, plus Craig Venter's web address. It's a bacterium with God that we created."

We will be able to program Craig Venter's bacteria in the coming years as we see fit. Their genetic code will be like Lego bricks for us, and we can arrange it as we wish. We can choose which gardens will be inside, and which will remain outside. Since researchers in recent years have been able to make bacteria perform basic calculations through limited genetic engineering, it is clear that Craig Venter's programmed bacteria have real potential to become the smallest computers in history - and more that can operate inside the human body. And when we unite billions of such smart bacteria together, as can be done in one petri dish, what will be the result? Will we get the next intelligent supercomputer, if only we know how to program them the right way?

Bacteria have solutions.

Even if all of Kurzweil's predictions are correct, one concern still remains: Will the exponential growth leave too many people behind? After all, evolution from the past shows that not everyone passes on to the new species. Not every person will be able to become a 'homo technologus' - the technological person, whose body integrates with smart bacteria and whose mind is in direct and unceasing contact with the wireless Internet network. Not everyone will want that. Many communities would prefer to stay behind, to continue existing as flesh and blood human beings. Will the human race split into two different species? It's possible. But according to Yankee, we have a moral and social responsibility not to leave too large groups behind on the road to the future.

The idea according to which the focus of reason and consciousness will pass from biological organisms like us to computerized entities, has gained a hold among a significant part of the population. Some of its believers see it as a logical and plausible description of the future. Others simply believe. If it comes true, it will change the way we see the world, think about the world - and in fact, the whole world.

And the only question remains - who will be left behind.

31 תגובות

  1. A very interesting article, but it is important to note that Hunter did not exactly create life from inanimate substances, but implanted synthetic DNA inside bacteria that replicated accordingly, which is amazing but very far from creating life.

  2. Yossi, the question is whether homo technologus sleeps with homo gentus.
    Because that's the only way you can "jump" human intelligence up a notch.
    In any case, today every generation is (by and large) more intelligent than its predecessor.
    All in all, even now we have something to be proud of. 🙂

    And Omar, if that's what you think, then put the facts straight.

  3. The question is what will happen if the descendants of homo technologus? Will they be born smarter or will they have to start the process from the beginning? So we haven't made much progress.

  4. BSD
    Each generation and its additions
    N, Noah, Nachem, Nachman Ma'oman
    Good night
    Sabdarmish Yehuda Shlita

  5. Just one, do you think it is possible to connect to both (both technology and emotion)?
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that today people are connected to their feelings (and some to the feelings of others) more than ever.
    How many people used to attach all kinds of "smileys" to what they wrote in previous generations?
    Ask your parents what they would say (probably) about guys who used to add a smiley to what they wrote in the time before you were born. (that is, before our generation came).
    Technology does not prevent people from connecting with emotions.
    Let's hope she doesn't force them!

  6. This is what happens when you let computer people get involved in philosophy and moral decisions. They have no weight for value consideration or concept. Who said this is the right path humanity should walk on? Humanity must decide between the option of "connecting to technology" and the second option of connecting to emotion. And many of the tectonic frictions that exist in the world today are exactly from there.

  7. For a world visitor I will contact you with your email
    All the best
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  8. I would love to work with you on a script.
    I want to make sure I'm talking to who I think I'm talking to.
    Are you "Sabdarmish Yehuda, born 1946, military service until the age of 49, actual matriculation, graduate of Shenkar College in industrial management with honors"?
    And if possible, write to my e-mail, because here I usually don't check if someone writes (the site for some reason doesn't inform me as a commenter):
    By the way, I'm in the process of writing 21 "my own theories" on all kinds of topics, I want to publish a book from them, so I won't be able to tell you about them directly, but we can try to talk about the topics I'm writing about, and it will help me write a sequel to them.
    Regarding the Cybo-Spians script (and I'm glad you liked this moniker I came up with) - like I said I'd love to work with you on it. Thanks for the invitation 🙂

  9. to a world critic
    I read your comment carefully. Did you think that it could be a basis for an interesting story/script?, Computers and people in conflict with sibo-speians? Do you really think that Homo sapiens would be willing to live in a holographic ghetto?, it won't be seen and I think there will be a serious conflict here and that is always good for the script. If you want, we will do it together. I have already written a fictional script on a similar subject. See here in the scholar "Dissertation in Astronomy".
    good evening
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  10. I absolutely agree with Sabdarmish Yehuda:
    Those who want to be left behind, let them be left behind, why should everyone suffer??
    My parents don't like messing with the computer, I warned them several times that one day they would regret not taking the time to learn at least the basic things so that they would have the "approach", the "initial sense".
    They don't accept it, so I finished nagging them, and when the moment comes for them to depend on their ability to work with technology - they will find someone to help them, or they will eat what they cooked for themselves.
    Those who want to move forward with the spirit of the times - the profit is all theirs.
    Besides, we humans have two clears:
    1) Let computers march us into a new and amazing future from every angle we can look at it.
    2) Force the computers to build 100% synthetic cyborgs (if you know what I mean) and then get rid of us.
    Because one thing is certain:
    Neither the computers nor the human will long accept the terribly problematic situation of humans and robots separately, it creates too many problems.
    For us, it's either merging into "cybo-sapiens" (or something like that) or moving to the next world (and they'll be smart enough to get rid of all of humanity without us even realizing they're doing it).
    As "cybo-spians", I suppose we can ask for his attribution to those who want to remain "homo-spians", we will ask the computers to build them a "holographic matrix" (that they will stay within a defined area, but without violently taking over the people like the one she did in the movie).
    The computers will want to operate in most of the area of ​​the earth that they can use - that is why those who do not want to be "computerized" will have to live inside the holographic matrix area, where they will be able to go anywhere on the earth without leaving the matrix, because they will have a perfect copy of every A place he can reach (those who watched one of the series made in the style of Star-Trek, saw how people run for hours in the "hologram room" and understand what I mean).
    To R.H. Rafai.M.:
    If you know something 100% about consciousness, please share with the whole "class".
    I think that consciousness is something that cannot be proven that anyone has (how can I be sure that you or anyone else has more than words and a behavioral code when you have an experience?).
    What is consciousness? The human self? Self-identity? - This is an interactive software within Android that is the development of the nature of the earth, and interactive software is already present in computers today, software and artificial facial features for imitating emotions are a topic that the best robotics people are currently working on.
    Another thing, most of the world you see today was developed in laboratories of sorts in the 80's and 90's, the only ones who see where the front of today's science stands are those who create it. So please "don't glorify Hogar as a key".
    And yes, the cutting edge of technology is not developing before our eyes, nor will you read about it anywhere, because if the "world" is how the research and development is conducted in the laboratories responsible for the cutting edge of technology and what exactly they are creating there (which will determine the world of the future and bring down entire areas of business) - some of the scientists They will sit in prison for breaking the law, and some will be murdered because they create a threat to the business of the napkins all over the world, and what can I tell you, every living being has an instinct for self-preservation and it includes, among other things, living and developing things in order to move forward.
    Now, to the host of the universe:
    When you're brainstorming (as you call it), there's no way to know where it's going to lead.
    Even if you only improve a certain person's conscious memory and ability to concentrate - he will already be able to do things that are beyond his current ability.
    When it comes to downloading information from a computer to a human brain like in the movie The Matrix (which will be possible if people have chips in their brains in the right places that can receive wirelessly like a blue top and the like and if you arrange the passage of the information you downloaded to the subconscious, in such a way that it can convey to the conscious only what is necessary, and then You will be able to push entire academic and engineering degrees to people's heads).

  11. Since they are all prophets, I would like to add my own prophecy.
    The direction will not be the development of an artificial brain with awareness, but the direction of strengthening the human brain with artificial aids. Chips and implants to be added to the existing brain.
    Since a huge part of the great developments in science were made at the push of countries, for combat, the development of a faster, more powerful, better processing soldier is the next thing.
    And as always this technology will spill over into the civilian market. I can imagine the advertisement that will try to convince us to implant the "capital market" software directly into the skull. And again the poor will remain the stupidest...

  12. Exponential growth is called exponential and not logarithmic,
    Logarithmic growth is the opposite of exponential and is actually very slow.

  13. "Not true, I don't agree with you. Not all types of prophecy were given to fools."
    Ok, if you call a scientific prediction (I also consider a truck speeding towards you a scientific prediction based on experience) a prophecy, let's say. But when it comes to forecasting in the social sciences, the distance is a huge distance.
    Karl Popper devoted an entire book to this called Historicism.
    Here is even an article on the subject, here in the knowledge:

    In short, Yankee's prophecy is no better than that of a stock market analyst or a.. fool.

  14. And another example:
    Today they know how to build a robot the size of a bird, and one that can also imitate the flight of a bird. but still
    This robot still lacks consciousness for example. That is, even if they managed to build a brain that almost perfectly replicated the bird's brain, and managed to put it inside a plastic body, say, this whole complex still does not have what we call consciousness.
    But even if we ignore consciousness itself, we can see that for such a robot to behave like a real bird
    The artificial brain will have to quantify so much data and produce so much information that it must have enormous data processing and storage capacity (and that's just for a bird's brain!).
    All this will be possible only after there is an extremely powerful quantum computer in the environment.
    And this is not the case, neither today nor in decades to come (considering the state of the world today).

  15. Eran
    It means artificial intelligence, as well as your computer's processor for example, which is also a 'brain' but artificial.
    An artificial brain per se (anything that fully imitated the brain of an animal) is still an idea and nothing more.

    What makes me answer you with confidence that an artificial brain (a.k.a. an artificial brain per se) is not expected to be created in the next decades is the knowledge that in reality there is nothing in the world that is even close to being like this (unless it is developed in secret laboratories somewhere and then I don't think anyone will find out For that).
    In addition, I have been following and studying computer technology for nearly 20 years, so I am more or less aware of the things that exist in today's computer world.

    Regarding your second question, I didn't understand it (or you didn't understand what you asked).
    I do think that the 'magic' of the human mind cannot yet be fully imitated.
    I also wrote why. Besides, the 'consciousness' for example cannot be imitated by the computer.
    There are still many unknown things about the brain itself.
    So tell me how you want to build something based on something unknown?

  16. To the last commenter, you said that an artificial brain "already exists", could you explain what you mean?

    Another question, what makes you state with such great confidence that even in decades we will not be able to fully imitate a human brain? Tell me what magics do you think exist in our brains that cannot be fully imitated? What miracles take place in the brain that cannot be copied and the principles of their operation to another system?

  17. Dawn
    A complete imitation of the human brain with the help of an artificial brain is not expected even in decades.
    Artificial brain - already exists.

    In decades we will see a significant improvement (perhaps even a lot) of the artificial brain, but not to the extent that it will fully imitate a human brain.

  18. Not true, I disagree with you. Not all types of prophecy were given to fools. I'm sure that when you see the weather forecast for the next few days after the news and decide on it whether to go on a trip or not, you don't call the forecasters "fools", also when you're walking down the road and see a truck speeding in your direction, I'm sure you'll move out of the way and not say "It's impossible to know where it's going Come."

    There has been a very large trend of progress in recent years in the subject of brain research and with each passing day we learn more and develop new tools that help us understand the brain better and faster. I don't see any logical reason why we won't be able to build an artificial brain already in the coming decades. If evolution did it blindly and unintentionally then I have no doubt that we can do it too and in a much shorter time.

  19. The prophecy as already stated was given to fools.
    The power of computers that doubles every year has a considerable contribution in many scientific fields. Furthermore, today's computers are dozens of times faster than a person's ability in certain computational fields.
    But we are light years away from understanding what is happening there in the box. And the von Neumann architecture for the brain does not exist.

    So there is no need to start a new religion. We have enough foreign work here.

  20. Unfortunately, there are people who are unable to look more than one meter ahead.

    Lucky to have Ray Kurzweil.

  21. No nonsense at all. I don't know how and when, but the human brain will be upgraded or artificially strengthened.
    And certainly not in another million years.

  22. Nonsense in the juice

    It will take a long time to build a computer faster than the brain
    What nonsense is he talking, the article is intended for small children

  23. Contrary to the previous commenter, I actually don't think it's brain confusion, there is a fairly clear development trend in my opinion and you don't need to be a prophet or a great soothsayer to understand in which direction things are developing (mainly the combination of brain research, together with the power of computers that doubles every year, the growing understanding of our biology and our genetics as well as the field of nanotechnology).

    And there are things that are desirable and should be prepared for in advance so as not to be surprised.

  24. Can you understand what this brain confusion is?
    Not better than A.'s musings. A. Judaism from a previous post.

    From the science I would expect better material.

  25. The problem with futurism is that it is usually extrapolative. That is, futurism
    Amplifies and exaggerates, sometimes to the point of absurdity, the current trend of technological development.
    However, the current technological development is based only on the current scientific knowledge.
    What futurism cannot do is predict future scientific discoveries that will be applied
    Technological developments, in directions that are completely unexpected and unknown today.
    For example :
    I remember that when I was a child, around the middle of the 60s, I read a book about futurism. So call the domain
    This new cybernetics. One of the predictions in the book was that due to the car culture and traffic jams
    Traffic on the roads will be invented by the 2000s out of nowhere a personal and compact flying vehicle, and thus the problem of
    The traffic jams on the roads. The Internet was not included in Mid's futuristic forecast
    The 60s of the 20th century.

  26. The supplier is completely unacceptable to me
    "We have a moral and social responsibility not to leave too large groups behind on the way to the future." End quote.
    The human race has never cared too much for those left behind. As there are today populations called the Third World, I believe there will be a Fourth World and a Fifth World.
    I am also not sure that one of the inferior worlds is not the one that will take over the rest of the worlds, if only for the reason that it will resort to greater reproduction than the others.
    Such a thing is already happening today with the proliferation in the third world which is above and beyond the rest of the worlds
    Good night
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

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