TechCrunch is reporting that Social networking and bookmarking site StumbleUpon.com is for sale by eBay which bought it only about a year ago for 75 million. It’s not clear how much they want for the site but due to stagnant growth in traffic and the ongoing challenges to social network monetization, it would seem likely that eBay would be happy to get little more or even less than 75 million to unload a site that does not really match up well with eBay’s core values and experiences which are “selling stuff by auction”.
Interestingly eBay already has one of the world’s largest social communities in the form of buyers and sellers who interact in a huge way on a grand scale every day, although I don’t think eBay has made a concerted attempt to extract additional value or community from those buyer and seller relationships.
Ray Kurzweil and Peter Thiel are not crackpots.
Kurzweil, among other things, was a major pioneer in speech recognition software and electronic musical instruments, from which he made a fortune. Kurzweil still works in the music field on SONY projects, but his passion is … immortality, and he’s working hard towards that end.
Thiel has made a king’s fortune in online projects like EBAY and PayPal, but he’s got more innovative things up his sleeve. Like Kurzweil, Theil’s looking to help fund the holy grail of humanity – immortality.
Even a few decades ago reasonable people would have considered much of the talk about a technological singularity and massive superintelligent computers to be fanciful at best and insanity at worst, but the inexorable march of technology is bringing us to within about a decade – probably two at the most – of human quality artificial intelligence. The processing power of the human brain will be reached soon, and unless there is something more to our human intellect than one can reasonably assume we are going to be chatting intelligently with our computers fairly soon. After that milestone is reached it is likely that it won’t be long before “recursive self improvement” by these intelligent computers will create artificial intelligences far superior to our current human intellects. Not to worry though, because it also appears likely that improvements in medicine, brain research, and nanotechnology will allow us to enhance our bodies and intellects such that we’ll live much longer and be much smarter.
Kurzweil, in the book “The Singularity is Near”, argues that the historical exponential growth of technology shows no signs of slowing down – in fact he’s convinced the growth is speeding up. At the current rates of increase we’ll see the same improvements over the next decades that we have seen in the past hundred years. For Kurzweil these improvements will lead to a utopian future of no poverty, massively improved intellects, and eventually immortality as we download our brains into machines.
Sounds cool to me Ray, I’m IN!
Conde Nast on Kurzweil
More at kurzweilai.net