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November 2007

November 12, 2007

Investing for the Singularity

Being an active investor, it's natural for me to want to combine my two favorite pastimes and focus on investments in sectors that I think will benefit from technology advances in the coming years. Specifically, I think that robotics, artificial intelligence, genetics and nanotechnology will play pivotal roles in the coming decades. As such, I’d like to share with you a few of the investments that I have taken an interest in over the past year. Please be advised that I have personal investments in the companies listed below as of the time of this writing. In fact, I would not feel comfortable making a recommendation for a stock that I was not willing to personally invest in. It’s up to you to decide on an investing strategy that makes sense to you in regards to your own personal goals. Please make sure to do your own research, or consult with an investment advisor before making any investments.

Honda Motor Company (HMC) is certainly known for their automobiles, but if you look at their current research and development strategy, you'll also find that they are also focused on providing robotic solutions. Although too expensive for the mainstream market today, the ASIMO robot is well down the path toward being the automated home robot that we've all been expecting since watching the Jetsons cartoons. I find it fascinating that we are living in times where an autonomous robot has achieved fairly natural bipedal locomotion and can navigate obstacles while holding a drink tray or pushing a food cart.

iRobot (IRBT) is another favorite of mine. I gave two of the Roomba sweeper robots as Christmas presents several years ago to my extended family and kept a third for myself. I was simply amazed by the ability of these devices to keep up with the crumb trail that follows behind our children. We mercilessly forced it to clean up endless pet hair tumbleweeds, crayon shards and an uncountable number of Little Einstein cereal loops that had been pulverized into the carpet. While their domestic robot line has grown recently with the addition of floor washing, pool and gutter cleaning robots, you may not be aware that iRobot designs robots for the government and industrial sectors as well and has already delivered 1,000 of their PackBot robots. You can visit their web site at www.irobot.com.

Nuance Communications (NUAN) is a leader in the speech recognition market with their Dragon Naturally Speaking software for the desktop. Microsoft embedded this technology in the Vista release of Windows, but I personally find that the Dragon solution is more powerful and accurate. Nuance is positioned to do very well in the coming years with voice-activated telephone services, other technologies which permit the control of devices and applications by speaking and healthcare dictation and transcription services.

Happy investing!

Related Posts

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Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
What is the Singularity?
The Singularity Effect
Upcoming Artificial Intelligence Events

Chris K. Haley, NestedUniverse.net. Subscribe Get free RSS or email updates here. 


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November 06, 2007

What is the Singularity?

What is the Singularity? Exponentially accelerating progress
© iStockphoto.com / Felix Mickel

The Singularity

The Singularity, also called the technological singularity, refers to the predicted accelerating progress of science and technology in coming years and the changes that will result. Several technologies will play key roles in this, including artificial intelligence software, computer hardware, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and robotics. A key principal in the theory is a demonstrated history, and predicted continuation of, accelerating progress in these areas that is measured not on linear scales, but exponential ones.

Greater Than Human Intelligence

One prediction is that artificial intelligence software that is more intelligent than a human being will be developed. If it is possible to develop this kind of software, it will be able to engineer something even more intelligent. A continued cycle of improvement will lead to an intelligence explosion, and the creation of superintelligence, beyond which accurate predictions of what will happen next begin to break down. The term singularity is an analogy taken from physics that refers to the lack of knowledge that happens at the center of a black hole - its singularity.

A Process

The term singularity can be misleading in some ways. It gives the impression that there is some particular event, or explosive activity that occurs at a point in time. Instead, most authors are referring to a process or sequence of activities that result in dramatic changes over time.

Here's an analogy in computer storage capabilities. Hard drives which are able to store terabytes of information have become more accessible in the mainstream marketplace recently. A quick check of several vendors shows that there are units available for around $150-200. Several years before, we saw 500 gigabyte drives - less than half of the storage space - for around the same price.

When looked at within the context of current events, that progress is notable, but not dramatic. However, a few decades ago, when the cost of a 10 megabyte drive was approximately the same, an announcement that a drive that was available that had 100,000 times the capacity of the standard drive on the market would have been seen as earth-shattering in what it would do for information technology of the time.

Dramatic Progress

In the same manner, we will experience dramatic progress over the coming decades, but it won't feel as dramatic while we are actually experiencing it.

If you're interested in the concept of the Singularity, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, stick around and keep reading!


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