Yes, a good point. Steven Johnson makes much of such development/uptake cycles in "Where Do Good Ideas Come From?"
However the time-frames differ. Also, of course, if we look further back in history (I do this in "The Intricacy Generator" we see that the patterns are irregular rather than following any hard and fast rule.
Times change. In the log term exponentially, but with many individual fluctuations.
This potential for diamond to become the basis for quantum computing is in keeping with the predicted outcome of extraterrestrial “life forms” being generated by a future implementation of what is, at present, the Internet.
The construction of a "brain" that will soon equal and then surpass that typical of our species has for long been a work in progress. Not as a result of any deliberate human "design" but rather as the result of an autonomous evolutionary process that can be seen to have run its exponential course since humankind acquired the ability to share imagination, which we know as language.
Very real evidence indicates the rather imminent emergence of the next, (non-biological) phase of the on-going evolutionary “life” process from what we at present call the Internet.It is effectively evolving by a process of self-assembly. You may have noticed that we are increasingly, in a sense, “enslaved” by our PCs, mobile phones, their apps and many other trappings of the net.
We are already largely dependent upon it for our commerce and industry and there is no turning back. What we perceive as a tool is well on its way to becoming an agent.
There are at present an estimated 2 Billion internet users. There are an estimated 13 Billion neurons in the human brain. On this basis for approximation the internet is even now only one order of magnitude below the human brain and its growth is exponential. That is a simplification, of course. For example: Not all users have their own computer. So perhaps we could reduce that, say, tenfold. The number of switching units, transistors, if you wish, contained by all the computers connecting to the internet and which are more analogous to individual neurons is many orders of magnitude greater than 2 Billion. Then again, this is compensated for to some extent by the fact that neurons do not appear to be binary switching devices but can adopt multiple states.
Without even crunching the numbers, we see that we must take seriously the possibility that even the present Internet may well be comparable to a human brain in processing power. And, of course, the degree of interconnection and cross-linking of networks within networks is also growing rapidly.The culmination of this exponential growth corresponds to the event that transhumanists inappropriately call “The Singularity” but is more properly regarded as a phase transition of the on-going “life” process.
An evolutionary continuum that can be traced back at least as far as the formation of the chemical elements in stars.
One that is on track to produce firstly a predominant cognitive entity on this planet from what is at present the Internet with subsequent emergence of "daughter" beings. These likely adapted for extra-terrestrial existence by virtue of the ruggedness and information processing potential of by diamond and other allotropes of carbon.
So, certainly, we may expect carbon-based life to exist within the interstellar realm , but not of the kind that comprises biology.
The broad evolutionary model that supports these contentions and speculations is outlined very informally in “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” , a free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website
Even today, metaphysical notions of this kind still crop up.
There is really now no mystery about consciousness whatsoever.
The mystical notions that have arisen in the past are purely illusory, an inevitable result of approaching the question by introspection. This, of course, was the only option available to earlier philosophers and many still have trouble escaping from that trap with its inevitable recursive loops.
Is is sad to see articles such as this resurrecting the old mystical notions within a scientific context.
Today, although the details of nervous system function of ourselves or other animals is very far from complete, we have sufficient information to have a rough idea of the gross workings of these systems.
From evolutionary considerations we can also now see how the essentially navigational function we like to call "consciousness", "self-awareness" "sense of agency" and so forth is bound to arise. Most, if not all organisms must, in principle, have some degree of consciousness (self-awareness). Even if only as the locus of its sensory and effector interactions with the external world.
This, of course, includes such creatures as bacteria and plants. Here's why:
From our understanding of biological evolution by natural selection it becomes quite clear that provision of a navigational feature that involves some degree of self awareness is required for an organism to interact optimally with its environment.
It is a measure of its fitness for the prevailing environment and subject to selection pressure accordingly.
Furthermore, from a quite different discipline, we now have an excellent understanding of functionally analogous computational systems. And the composite that we call the Internet has, even now, comparable processing power to the human mins and is rapidly becoming endowed with the semantic linkages required of our particular kind of consciousness.
With these new tools at our disposal we can now view the phenomenon in a truly objective way. And then the hocus-pocus surrounding this issue vanishes!
This topic is part of the broad evolutionary model very informal outlined in "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" (free download in e-book formats from the "Unusual Perspectives" website).
The far more formal treatment I am at present working on "The Intricacy Generator: Pushing Chemistry and Geometry Uphill" deals with this subject (and also the nature of mathematics in more detail.
Comments such as the following by Anonymous Coward are echoed by others throughout this thread
"When you look at the technology stack and the inherent complexity, the reason why it works is because you have all these different complex pieces working together with different experts focused on specialized pieces within the stack.What you seem to fail to understand is that it didn't happen all in one blob. Nobody pooped out the whole internet to Google in one shot. It's been an ongoing process. It's similar to the automobile. We didn't wake up one morning to find that little elves has created highways and variable valve timing quad cam sports cars. We got there piecemeal, with each piece put on top of each other. Often those pieces were patent (remember the modern wind shield wiper? It's history made for a good movie). Through the process some was patent, some was open, and all of it piled one piece on top of another.""
These observations are both very true and very important to our proper understanding of this World.
What is almost always overlooked, however, because of our naturally anthropocentric standpoint is the logical consequence of such observations. Namely that, except in a very limited sense, we do not "create" or "design" things but rather that and technology EVOLVE within the medium of our collective imagination.
As Carl Sagan put it "To make an apple pie you first have to create the universe"
Without Ritchie we would still have a functional equivalent of Google, just as without Newton or Liebnitz we would still have the calculus of variations, or relativity without Einstein. I am not disparaging any of these individuals but it must be admitted they were mostly picking the low-hanging fruit.
This is expanded upon very informally in the context of a broad evolutionary model (which extends well beyond the realm of biology) in: "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" (free download in e-book formats from the "Unusual Perspectives" website)
Within the context of a broad evolutionary model for which there is good evidence the "singularity" is better considered as a "phase transition" to the next stage in nature's on-going life process.
This model is very informally discussed in "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" (free download in e-book formats from the "Unusual Perspectives" website)
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