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Hi Dean, wrt VR sadness I would invoke the idea of Buddhism wherein we endeavor to control our moods via meditative/ spiritual practice. The VR thing is another toy that we seem to forever crave and fall into the trap of dopamine rush LOL! Although I have to admit I'm a bit curious but realize its just another drug in a different form.

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For all you AI and Singularity geeks out there...

Any news here, Dean? I admit I've been too cross-eyed with the insane to keep up with AGI and futurism, even though I still care. Also, is there a forum-like place for AGI enthusiasts where common eyeballs like mine may realign (read posts) from those who're keeping up with AGI advances? I'd like that, I guess you'll say here let me google that for you, and that's ok, too.

 

Happy long weekend, everyone, and remember that "this too shall pass..."

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Sthira,

 

I've been rather disappointed with the progress in AI over the last six months. Unfortunately much of the oxygen has been sucked out of the room by hysteria over self-driving cars - a technology whose viability and impact has been very much over-hyped. Uber is floundering, with the city of Pittsburgh now openly critical of their tactics, and Google's Waymo suing them up the wazoo, after having given up on their vision of jumping straight to level 4-5 autonomy. 

 

With the Pokemon Go phenomena yesterday's news, and Magic Leap floundering in its attempt to make augmented reality more appealing and practical, AR enthusiasts seem to have resigned themselves to playing with some inane Instagram filters - just what the world needs...

 

Google's Tilt Brush 3D virtual reality paint program is cool for artists:

 

 

but virtual reality isn't going to change the world anytime soon either. Besides, nobody wants to wear bulky headgear anyway.

 

Drones have gone the way of 3D printing, having failed to find a viable consumer use case. And no, we won't have flying cars modeled on drones anytime soon, despite Larry Page's toy.

 

Visionary Elon Musk is wasting his time on a California pipe dream (literally) with his Boring Company tunnel idea to shuttle cars around quickly beneath cities. Neural Lace we've discussed before - neuroscientists are happy to take his money for basic research, but no respectable researcher thinks high-bandwidth consumer BCI has a snowball's chance in hell of happening anytime within the next two decades.

 

AlphaGo has gotten better, handily beating the best humans on the planet, but so what? Even its creator DeepMind is getting bored (board?) with Go, and just announced AlphaGo is retiring. Home robot aren't happening, but sex robots seem to be coming along nicely - just what the world needs...

 

On a more pedestrian note, home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa are making some progress. They, along with their mobile counterparts on our phones, seem like the area where the average person is likely to see progress in AI and machine learning in the near term. Their speech recognition has gotten pretty amazing, and they are beginning to get a little more flexible in the Q&A they can support. Just this week my Google Home gained the capability of answering the question "What is 5 Bitcoin worth?" although it is still dumbfounded by the question "what's the temperature outside divided by 3?"

 

In short, it looks to me like pretty slow progress lately towards the Singularity. Meanwhile surveillance capitalism, ransomware and fake news continue to undermine the confidence of both researchers and the general public that technology is making the world a better place, while network effects continue to increase the gaping chasm between the have's and the have-not's. 

 

As for where to go to keep up with the latest in technology developments, Wired is a good place to start. I also subscribe to newsletters from Futurism.com, KurzweilAI.net and SingularityHub.com

 

Addendum: I just came across this brand new list of consumer AI products and services. The list is long, but I personally find it pretty underwhelming. I'm curious if anyone has positive experiences with any of the products listed.

 

--Dean

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but virtual reality isn't going to change the world anytime soon either. Besides, nobody wants to wear bulky headgear anyway.

 

Well, I own an Oculus Rift + Touch for the last year and I use it almost daily.  :Pxyz I think that it's probably around 3-5 years away from becoming mainstream. Sony's VR sales had exceeded their expectation earlier this year. On the PC side, we still don't have any definite figures. The hardware is already good enough to have an amazing experience.. I love showing people the Rift and seeing their reactions. They're almost always blown away by how awesome it is. And it's going going to keep getting better from here. :)

 

As for the bulkiness of the headset... Does it really matter since you're wearing it inside the house anyway? I've used the Rift for about 8 hours with just a few 5-10 minute tea breaks here and there, and had no issues with discomfort. The Rift is comfortable compared to Vive. 

VR will change the world, but will take longer than analysts projected. Companies / People within the VR industry though were more cautious. They don't expect for VR to really grow until 2019-2020.

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Matt,

 

Thanks for your firsthand perspective on VR and the Oculus Rift. I agree it is amazing technology. What is it you use it for almost daily, and what is it you show people that blows them away? Are there use-cased beyond gaming that you find most compelling for the average person?

 

--Dean

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It's amazing to me that anyone who is older than about 20 still falls for this type of hype. Have you guys never lived through technology (medicine, whatnot) hype before? Where wild claims are made, whole fields spring up around it, only to peter out in due time, with sometimes even names barely recognizable anymore (cybernetics - remember that? once upon a time it was superhot). I've been hearing about AI since I was a kid. It's still a nothingburger and mostly science fiction, with a great emphasis on the "fiction" part, all these decades later (and no, expert systems are not AI, just simple data crunching). I have no doubt that humanity will get there, eventually, but it will be a long arduous process and it will look nothing like what's being touted today. The one thing you can be sure of is that whatever the current hype is, it'll pass into ingnominious obscurity soon enough. I'm in a particularly grumpy mood, because I'm using some specialized software where they just forced an "upgrade" on us, a supposedly new "improved" version that features AI assisted functions. It is an absolute nightmare. It slows down the work so badly that I'm tearing my hair out every single minute I'm using this piece of AI (or as I call it RI for Real Idiocy). It's like those obnoxious spell checkers you can't turn off but which automatically change spellings behind your back, so that you end up with garbage you didn't intend - zero nuance, zero understanding of slang and specialized terms, or humor or mixing languages or any of a thousand human things. I hate it with a passion. Please for the love of all that's holy, keep away from me any and all forms of "AI", so that I can work in peace and with efficiency and not have my workload doubled and tripled because I have to constantly correct for idiotic AI choices. As far as I'm concerned, current level of AI as it stands today, can go die in a fire.

 

We're coming upon soon, in 2-3 years, on the 20th aniversary of having the human genome sequenced. Boy do I remember the hype about amazing wonderful medical stuff that was supposed to come from it. So far, in practical terms, I see ZERO, almost 20 years later. All these AI products touted today are in the same class - big claims, puny (or no) delivery. I feel like someone should keep a long list of every single hype wave and whip it out every time there's a new one, so it can be quashed like the outbreak of a flu virus.

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Tom,

 

I feel like someone should keep a long list of every single hype wave and whip it out every time there's a new one, so it can be quashed like the outbreak of a flu virus.

 

Gartner's annual "Hype Cycle" diagram is fun to keep tabs on. Here is the 2015 and 2016 versions:

 

2015:

emerging-tech-hc.png

 

2016:

emerging-tech-hc-2016.png

 

Notice they have "augmented reality" deep in the trough of disillusionment, while autonomous vehicles and machine learning were near the peak of inflated expectations. Drones were climbing the peak last summer, and I expect will be near the pinnacle once this year's version comes out later this summer.

 

--Dean

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Sthira,

 

Why do y'all think it's been such a failure?

 

Ignorance and greed.

 

Ignorance of how difficult problems in AI and longevity really are, and ignorance of the negative consequences of tech solution.

 

Greed from tech companies willing to promise VCs anything to get funding, leading to inflated expectations and unrealistic projections of impact. Greed from tech companies willing to manipulate customers and sell their private details to the highest bidder.

 

--Dean

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Well, thank goodness the $600 headphone technology is thriving. That's important to our survival. And the sex doll video you linked is really very horrible and disgusting on so many levels -- so damned discouraging. Then again, where would the internet be without the porn influence?

 

Nothing's changing much, we reckon, and you linked Futurism as one of your sources, and I actually think they and others like Wired, Kurzweil, and Singularity's site seem like part of the hype problem. Everything posted on Futurism is five years away, haha, or in mice, or in theory, or in some distant galaxy, great. It is named "Futurism" though so that ain't really a great criticism, guess what I'm saying is we need more Nowism.

 

In Nowism, Musk is tunneling under LA, yes. The digging machines are very slow. Too bad.

 

Meanwhile, a Wikipedia recap:

 

"In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality, all of which are wants that can never be satisfied."

 

And: "The three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance are the classic Buddhist examples, but others include conceit, skeptical doubt, and so-called "speculative" views... ... The three main klesas are ignorance, hatred, and desire. The five klesas include these three along with pride and envy."

 

I'm thinking about a vipasana retreat, a minimum of ten days in mute seated meditation, pay only what you're able -- it's you, a cushion, a hall, and others stuck in the same ole meaningless human drama. Ten days.

Edited by Sthira

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Sthira,

 

"In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering...

I'm thinking about a vipasana retreat, a minimum of ten days in mute seated meditation, pay only what you're able..."

 

I've been thinking a lot about Buddhism myself lately. In fact, I just finished Liberation in the Palm of your Hand and I'm in the middle of Shantideva's classic Bodhicharyavatara: The Way of the Bodhisattva

 

My favorite two verses from the latter (substituting 'rubber' for 'leather' in the original to make it vegan) are:

 

To cover all the earth with sheets of rubber - 

Where could that amount of elastic be found?

But with the rubber soles of just my shoes

It is as though I cover the earth!

 

And thus the outer course of things

I myself cannot restrain.

But let me just restrain my mind,

And what is left to be restrained?

 

To connect it with this thread, one might say that the Bodhisattva's objective of liberation is a kind of localized Singularity to be obtained through joint training in compassion, mental concentration and self-transcendence.

 

--Dean

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Hmm.

 

...substituting 'rubber' for 'leather' in the original to make it vegan...

And cork!

 

Hey, Buddhism sits heavy, and so does more heavy mean that more disciplined, shaved-head reading alone in sweaty tropical rooms shall kick us off yet another revolution on the cursed wheel? Round and round, whee: hey you familiar with Allie Brosh, bet you'd dig her, I mean, of course, who wouldn't? She's probably on amazon, too, well, right, what isn't on that, speaking of samsara

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Sthira,

 

Why do y'all think it's been such a failure?

 

Ignorance of how difficult problems in AI and longevity really are, and ignorance of the negative consequences of tech solution.

 

Isn't that a constant, though? Ignorance and greed were always here, yet the world is still making progress, for better or worse. I would say it's more of a classic “beholder” issue. People's expectations and their straightforward need for hype in this age of ours are far too high and prevalent, as already said. Plus many people seem to think we should be able to predict many of such "progress" and "tech" advances with some sort of superior scientific accuracy, positive or negative, but sometimes it’s just a matter of occurrences and the right creative effort done exactly at the right time. Also, whether something major is achieved 3, 5, 10 or maybe 60 years from now, this is still pretty quick and kind of overwhelming, I would say (if measured by overall progress). Case in point: quite a short span for mental changes to occur and they’re something humanity really needs if we are to prosper further along the tide (…if we survive NOW, that is).

 

Either way, Dean, not sure if you remember our brief chat but finally had some fine moments to get through all of this and the case is interesting, I must say. *Salutes you* Thanks for the link on Twitter. CR content seems handy as well and there is a lot of material here.

 

Concerning some of your many posts and wild counter-measure attempts of this thread (and others), can I ask you something more personal? I mean, is it all serious serious (kind of moral obligation) coming from you? Or is it also a peculiar sort of fun (with common sense but not so heavy on the soul) and that’s why you ended up doing it? I only ask because I would bet it’s the latter but since both of them can be actually the same thing from my own point of view… I really wonder how do you see it and whether you would differentiate between the two or not lol.

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BetterStructure wrote:

Concerning some of your many posts and wild counter-measure attempts of this thread (and others), can I ask you something more personal? I mean, is it all serious serious (kind of moral obligation) coming from you? Or is it also a peculiar sort of fun (with common sense but not so heavy on the soul) and that’s why you ended up doing it? I only ask because I would bet it’s the latter but since both of them can be actually the same thing from my own point of view… I really wonder how do you see it and whether you would differentiate between the two or not lol.

 

I wouldn't characterize my motivation for some of esoteric things I do as exactly a sense of 'moral obligation,' but it isn't far from that. I feel somewhat of a sense of duty to push the envelope of human experience to the best of my ability.

 

My motto for living has long been that it's good to 'go out on a limb' for a worthy cause, as long as you aren't hurting anyone else in the process. Or put another way.

 

To whom much is give, much is required. - Luke 12:48

 

Plus, I enjoy exploring aspects of human possibility that relatively few people have investigated before. I'd rather live a life less ordinary than a lifeless ordinary.

 

--Dean

 

P.S. Speaking of pushing the envelope - next month I'm taking my daughter skydiving (to my wife's chagrin). It is part of our summer plan to live like we're dying. We already climbed a rocky mountain (in Costa Rica) and there is a cowboy bar not far from our home with a mechanical bull we plan to conquer before she goes off to college.

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this is still pretty quick and kind of overwhelming

 

And that's how I know for a fact that people are just different. Because while people say progress (at least technological) has been at warp speed from a perspective of the entirety of human history, the subjective reaction to that has been along a spectrum. There are those who feel overwhelmed and almost begging to slow down, others, such as myself, feel nothing but the deepest dismay at how slow the progress has actually been. Human life has not been changed along fundamental axis, such as lifespan or even healthspan (except at a population level). Biologically, we're no better off today than we were a 1000 years ago, from the point of view of prolonging lifespan on an individual level, and curing most diseases. Yes, there has been some progress in curative medicine (antibiotics, which ironically are about to be lost anyway), but it's meager, meager, meager.

 

Even worse is technology. Take computers. We're basically at the same point we were from when I have conscious memories of using them back in the early 80's (CP/M systems, anyone remember that? My first computer, a Kaypro). Yes, they are faster and have easier UI, but it's the same exact conceptual underpinnings, dumb binary brute force simple algorithm driven glorified pocket calculators. There was some listless talk about how at some point all that increased speed of calculation might translate, magically into real AI, somehow, but it's still the same old expert systems as always, the really really fast pocket calculators. Where are the conceptual breakthroughs? Where the novel designs and ideas about how to structure data and manipulate it? Feh. We're no more sophisticated on that front than the guys with abacuses centuries ago.

 

So while y'all may be amazed - or scared, lol! - at the rate of progress, I despair at the sub-snail pace. I am literally dying here, reaching the last decades of my life, and the early tech promises that I devoured as a boy, first in various tech-oriented magazines and even sci-fi, and then as a young man studying analytical philosophy, well, all those have come to nothing all these decades later. I will die having seen nothing of those bright hopes realized.

 

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I can only laugh bitterly at the utter lack of magic that I've experienced in my life so far. That's because we are at garbage level of technology where nothing actually even works as advertised, never mind magic.

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Right, Dean.


 

I feel somewhat of a sense of duty to push the envelope of human experience to the best of my ability. My motto for living has long been that it's good to 'go out on a limb' for a worthy cause, as long as you aren't hurting anyone else in the process. Plus, I enjoy exploring aspects of human possibility that relatively few people have investigated before. I'd rather live a life less ordinary than a lifeless ordinary.

 

Perfectly summed up and this is exactly what I mean. Sometimes all the surrounding fallacies may be annoying but sounds like a good ride, eh? Well, I bet it is. Whatever "crazy" but full of life we do, it is certainly better than ordinary. (By the way, nice and kind of challenging of you to do it. Family feels and happy skydiving for your daughter!)

 

 

this is still pretty quick and kind of overwhelming

 

And that's how I know for a fact that people are just different. Because while people say progress (at least technological) has been at warp speed from a perspective of the entirety of human history, the subjective reaction to that has been along a spectrum. There are those who feel overwhelmed and almost begging to slow down, others, such as myself, feel nothing but the deepest dismay at how slow the progress has actually been.

 

Indeed we are all different and that's no mystery. But notice that I never actually said that I am overhelmed. What I meant about "progress being made at suprising pace" was an overall perspective regarding our entire civilization (our collective progress, including little, daily things in lives of ordinary people). For the so-called "little man out there" the progress being made daily can be pretty amazing and overhelming/scary (or both at once). Whether we like it or not, our collective consciousness is dominated by the little man. There are many amazing, skillful people who drive our human civilization forward but if taken separately? Pretty satisfied and amazed at the current progress of our age (even if they lack some mental progress that should really go in pair with it).

 

But when it comes to me, I hear you. I don’t really feel like we’re really making progress, whatever area of life, and - gods help me - I'm just in my early decades of life. Most people seem like they don't know what they're talking about and they just go through montions, whereas others praise the same failed acts and mechanisms all over again. Technology can be disappointing at times, especially if nobody cares that it's broken, and the heck, why not, GIVE ME MORE MAGIC. Even simple mainstream entertainment and creative "vision" are getting so annoying and repetitive beyond the scales of good taste. Maybe most mechanics and social models we use today aren’t that much different than X years before and better AI is nowhere to be seen but... with everything that we have? So many wonders could be achieved, especially if the all-important factor of creativity and passion is highlighted and in demand. But of course nope. Companies and game industry shovel the same shit down our throats and the masses just buy into it, vloging about "new" and "amazing." Or worse even, thinking it's bad shit only because shiny graphics and details are outdated 1-2 years and they don't even bother to care beyond that. Well, now I don’t say there are no occasional exceptions to the rule but overall this is our sitiation. So whether we talk medicine, computers, beliefs or entertaiment, we are still going in circles and nothing makes actual progress, apparently. I would say we expect too much and this is our baggage to bear but... nope, we are just too sane and alive, alright.

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Heh, yeah, that's the tragedy, as I see it. Not so much that "magic" has not been achieved - after all one may say "your expectations are too lofty" - but from the simple observation that we are not doing much with what we already have. Never mind new inventions and discoveries - we are not using what we already know and have within reach. That of course applies not just to technology, but to social and economic policy. I mean, as just the most talked about example from technology - people are amazed by the internet, which yes, has been quite revolutionary, but good dog, it's just a fraction of a fraction of implementation of extant technology and information processing. We're not doing much with what we already have, is my point. That's what's depressing. OK, maybe I'm a jerk for expecting new physics and new this and new that, I get it. But why can't we fully implement what we already have? The fact that so many problems are so dire when the solutions have been known for decades and decades, is just thoroughly discouraging. 

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There is still magic to be found, even plenty of it, but yeah, life can be very frustrating at times, especially lately, when we see everything go to shit and waste and we know it could function better.

 

I know it may sound kind of hopeless but in my opinion we aren’t going to make it anywhere if we continue on this path (well, not anywhere interesting and exciting at least). My number one alternative may seem radical and even impossible but the only logical fix to fixing how people fix their previous fixes and thus solving our current problems lies at the lowest non-rational level of human factors: beliefs, morals, hopes, social norms, where most of it if not all is shaped. We should really think ahead rather than build modern paradigms on top of what we already have (which is pretty much a little bit more “advanced” version of our ancient/traditional/medieval ways). We need a sudden “something”, kind of a big bang boom (worldview-speaking) that will get us past the obstacles and move humanity into this whole new take on our mental basics and moral guidelines. Differently wired and progressive but not too different, thus easy-to-grasp for everyone, no matter their personal mental. I don’t mean like “New Age” wave and hippie tide, which might be compared to some sort of “teenage revolt” if you ask me, but more "global thing" that deals in both rights and wrongs and leaves everything else obsolete, hence more unifying than what we have right now and correlating our course towards actual progress.

 

Now I don’t really know how exactly it could come to pass and if it’s relatively safe in execution but what the heck… our alternatives are short and I am here to support it. Just say a word. Or even better, give me more ideas and actual effort in utilization of what we have at the moment and, someday, actual conscious AI. Perhaps machines really ought to change humanity one day, ay? But however abstract and far away it sounds, I think we should be getting busy laying some solid foundations with our own hands first. Even if AI does happen at some point, it’s kind of rude to leave everything what's wrong to AI (while, ironically, we should actually become mentors about all "human" to it and say proudly what did we manage to tweak and solve).

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Hmm. I think AI and the slug's pace of medicoscience just needs more cool people who are less interested in grinding out $$$ off sick people and more into the

 

hippie tide

Technology and the Hippies – Overview

 

“Forget antiwar protests, Woodstock, even long hair. The real legacy of the sixties generation is the computer revolution” – Stewart Brand in an article from Time Magazine

 

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

 

——————————

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

——————————

Specifically, the personal computing and networking world was born out of visions – NOT just visions to sell more things, but visions of how to connect the world and give us all access to information and knowledge. As chronicled in the books above, much of this grew from worldviews which were influenced by psychedelic drugs.

 

Using Steve Jobs as an example: “Steve Jobs grew up in a lower-middle class suburban neighborhood in the 1960s. When he was a young adult, in theearly 1970s, he delved into eastern mysticism, Zen Buddhism, and hippie ideals.”

 

* “I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.” – Steve Jobs

 

* At another time, Jobs said “taking LSD was “one of the two or three most important things” he did in his life.” Did Taking LSD Make Steve Jobs more creative?

 

One hardly needs to say more – the defining persona of the entire personal computer revolution was a hippie! LSD and other drug experimentation was just one of his many counterculture habits. He was known to walk around barefoot or with small tattered sandals, eat raw or vegan foods and even eschew frequent bathing!

 

Steve Wozniak was also, as the pictures show, a long hair, prankster and hacker. As a drop of the University of California Berkeley, he certainly fits the definition of a counterculture member. His ethics are pure “hippiedom” – i.e. he’s not in it for the money, he enjoys nothing more than helping people, etc. – and, as a bona fide of his hippie roots, he paid for and organized the US Festivals, some of the largest post-Woodstock rock festivals ever created.

 

Although the two Steves are famous examples, many of those working hard on the code and hardware had lofty ideals of changing the world.

 

http://thankahippie.com/2014/06/02/technology-and-the-hippies-overview/

Edited by Sthira

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Another solid wave of that (if we talk technology) might be helpful, yes. But what then? When special few hippie-tech-geeks revolutionizing their branch are out of the equation? And it's pretty clear the rest of the world, including everyone else clinging to more traditional view points, won't buy into it pernamently since - however enlighting - it's too "off their rocker", so to speak. Then, after this single solid breakthrough and hippie wave are done, we're back to square one and exactly where we are today, pretty much. That's why I would rather have something entirely different, not hippie thing again. Something that may provide a firm "rulebook" and appeal to the little man as well, not just open-minded eccentrics and counterculture seekers. Buddhist branch of it appears good but then when we look at it in practice, it's no different than lenient (or maybe not so lenient which is the problem?) worship of Jesus or Wiccan witchcraft. Meanwhile, there ought to be a better way to provide people with hopes/sense/morals/wonders/rules that they need and make pace of progress and creativity more sensible and focused.

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I share your desire for a faster pace of technological progress, especially when it comes to the fight against aging.  I'm hoping it doesn't require "the singularity" / intelligent machines building ever improved versions of themselves, before we get real progress in the field.  There certainly seems to be a great deal of money and effort going into research, although much of those efforts seem to be happening either in secret or at a slow pace.  I wouldn't say we haven't gotten anywhere in the last few decades though, the increase in computing power has resulted in many advantages, and now "neuron computers" and AI/deep learning are looking quite promising:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/06/us-air-force-buying-ibm-64-million-neuron-computer.html

 

We've made big strides in genomics and especially CRISPR which may be a very important building block for emerging tech.  

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