book title: the Polymath
WA: What role does the interdisciplinary scientist play vis-à-vis the hyper-specialised scientist in the development of exponential technologies?
RAY: Increasingly, the solutions to problems are found at the intersection of multiple fields. For example, my work in speech recognition involved speech science, linguistics, mathematical modeling psychoacoustics, and computer science. The cutting edge of medical research today is at the intersection of biology and computer science. Experts in highly specialized fields can be part of a team, but the team leader needs to bridge multiple disciplines.
WA: How will the Singularity affect the human’s ability to be creative?
RAY: We have 300 million of neocortical modules in our neocortex, the region of the brain responsible for thinking. Each of these modules can learn, recognize and remember a pattern. These modules connect themselves into elaborate hierarchies. Our neocortex creates these hierarchies itself based on our own thinking. In the 2030s, we will expand its capacity by connecting our neocortex to the cloud (using nanobots in the brain sent noninvasively through the capillaries).
Remember what happened the last time we added more neocortex when we became humanoids (and evolved the frontal cortex)? We invented language and art and science. When we again add additional neocortex in the cloud, we will add additional levels of abstraction. The result will be the invention of means of expression even more profound than our art and technology of today.
This expansion will no longer be limited by a fixed enclosure (our skulls) and will be using an information processing substrate that is millions of times faster than the one used by the brain. It will be free to grow exponentially, ultimately expanding our intelligence billions-fold (that is my definition of the “Singularity.”)
How will be be able to retain our sense of unique individuality?
We will be able to share our neocortical extensions in the cloud when we want or keep them private when we want, thus keeping our individuality, which will become even more unique than today.
WA: What will the human polymath of the future (say in 2050) look like and how will he/she add value to society?”
RAY: With only 300 million pattern recognition modules in our neocortex, it is difficult to become a master of more than one field. By expanding our neocortex in the cloud, we will be able to master multiple fields which will greatly increase our ability to innovate. It is only innovation that is able to solve the challenges of humanity.
This interview was conducted as part of the research for The Polymath by Waqas Ahmed, published by Wiley in Jan 2019. The book is available on Amazon in hardback and kindle.