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THE TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY:

    THE SINGULARITY IS NYE
  1. AFTER THE SINGULARITY

 

THE SINGULARITY IS NYE

"If our world survives, the next great challenge to watch out for will come - you heard it here first - when the curves of research and development in artificial intelligence, molecular biology, and robotics all converge. Oboy. It will be amazing and unpredictable, and even the biggest of brass, let us devoutly hope, are going to be caught flat-footed. It is certainly something for all good Luddites to look forward to if, God willing, we should live so long."
- Thomas Pynchon, New York Times Book Review, 1984

The Singularity, The Spike, The Quickening, The Law of Accelerating Returns, The Age of Convergence... People have many names for the anticipated climax of technological progress that is expected to radically redefine the world and force humanity, as it exists today, into complete obsolescence.

According to futurist, Ray Kurzweil, the Singularity is "a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself."

         Humanity currently stands on the verge of the most transformative period in all of history. Genetics, Nanotechnology, Robotics (GNR) and Artificial Intelligence will combine to make the once impossible, possible. Human and machine intelligence will merge. Problems like hunger, poverty and pollution will be solved. Molecular manufacturing will make it possible to build virtually any physical item quickly and inexpensively directly from pure information. Aging and illness will be reversed, and even death itself will be nullified.

         Legendary Science Fiction writer, Vernor Vinge, began the contemporary notion of a Technological Singularity in 1981 with his visionary novel, True Names, in which he pictured society on the verge of such a situation. In 1993, Vinge made his vision clear in his essay, "The Coming Technological Singularity," writing that, "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

         The exponential pace of technological progress is itself accelerating, however, for now it remains limited by the basic intelligence of the human brain, which has not changed appreciably for millennia. With the increasing power of computers, some theorize that it may become possible to build a machine that exceeds the intelligence of a human. If a machine could be built by humans that exceeded the problem solving and inventive skills of a human, it could conceivably build another machine of even greater capability. This would lead to recursive self improvement, whereby machine intelligence would grow in increasingly short intervals until it far exceeds the combined intelligence of every human being on earth. It has alternatively been suggested that a singularity could come about through the amplification of human intelligence, resulting in tranhumans and ultimately posthumans that are incomprehensible to a purely biological, unenhanced human. The plausibility of the very notion of a technological singularity has been disputed by many prominent academics and technologists, including Daniel Dennett, Jaron Lanier, John Holland, Jeff Hawkins, and even Gordon Moore (whose Moore's Law is often cited in support of the concept.)

"We are approaching an evolutionary event horizon, where the organic and the synthetic, the virtual and the "real", are merging together into an operational ecology, an existence morphology for which there is no precendent in the history of which we are currently aware, catalyzed by nanotechnology." - nanosingularity

 

AFTER THE SINGULARITY

         "It took ninety years to achieve the first MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) per thousand dollars, now we add one MIPS per thousand dollars every day."

 

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