Toronto LW Singularity Discussion (sort of), 2012-04-19

Present: SD, GE, SB

SD was reading an article on Ribbonfarm about “Hackstability“, the equilibrium position between singularity and collapse.

SB wonders how far into the future we can reliably predict, so this discussion is more about the near future(trope) than the singularity which we hope is still some way off. We pick a 5 year timescale and try to predict what we think we will see.

(This post may contain buzzwords)

SB brings up natural language interfaces(wp) which are already appearing in things like Siri(wp).

SD wonders about the role of social media

  • Already some push back relating to privacy: the “girls around me” app, and some employers demanding employees’ Facebook password. (Yes, their actual password, not just wanting to see what’s on their profile).
  • (GPS is another concern here)
  • Will people get more permissive, better at protecting their own privacy, or will there be laws about privacy?
  • It’ll still be Facebook?
  • Integration of services

Augmented reality(wp) – emergence in 5 years

  • More direct interface than phone screen (glasses or projector)


  • Audio is a problem – sub-woofers are necessarily big
  • Actually divergence between business and home devices? People don’t necessarily really want general-purpose computing
  • Otherwise not sure – still have big screen/small screen pattern
  • Wireless power?

Cloud computing

  • Probably used for storage – war between Apple/GOogle/Amazon
  • Not sure about apps (good for startup businesses?)

Surveillance culture?

(Interlude: SB mentions Robert J. Sawyer’s Hominids. SD mentions David Brin’s Kiln People. GE isn’t sure that a 3-way merge(wp) of the brain is possible.)

Brain computer interfaces

  • Not yet.
  • Will technology get more intrusive? SD says yes, based on past trends and people overcoming yuck factor if there’s enough benefit

(SD makes a point about government regulating employers and most people being employees. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten the context of this, but I remember it made sense at the time)


  • Media companies go out of business?
  • Kickstarter
  • Requires social pressure to be one of the ones pledging money – otherwise everyone waits for everyone else
  • Kickstopper – funding proof that other projects will fail

Prediction markets

  • Why aren’t they bigger?
  • Treated as gambling and taxed accordingly? Doesn’t pay interest?
  • Prediction markets require losers in order to function. Why do the losers participate? Signaling their strong beliefs?
  • Prediction markets not a big thing within 5 years?

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