If humans are seeking machines, we’ve now created the perfect machines to allow us to seek endlessly. This perhaps should make us cautious. In Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin writes of driving two indoor cats crazy by flicking a laser pointer around the room. They wouldn’t stop stalking and pouncing on this ungraspable dot of light???their dopamine system pumping. She writes that no wild cat would indulge in such useless behavior: “A cat wants to catch the mouse, not chase it in circles forever.” She says “mindless chasing” makes an animal less likely to meet its real needs “because it short-circuits intelligent stalking behavior.” As we chase after flickering bits of information, it’s a salutary warning.
How we’ve built a global information system that triggers mammalian seeking behavior: http://www.slate.com/id/2224932/
Mind you, the same could be said of computer games, TV, or any of the many technological artifacts we create to divert, amuse, and occasionally illuminate. This type of circularity, this seeking of satisfaction, I would argue, is the source of much of the drive of the human race in general. It’s the accident, the secret, of our success.
Is there – pandering temporarily to the technologically naysayers – a danger of ultimately reaching the level of absolute satisfaction, of subverting our basic drives so successfully into a collective whirlpool of frantic, useless, twitch-like activity. If so, this would be a completely different type of singularity, perhaps the inverse of that proposed by Kurzweil (<a href="http://singularity.com/).