Singularity or Bust

2012, Science  -  48 min Leave a Comment
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What is singularity? A future period during which the pace of technological innovation 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 modes of commerce to the cycles of human and non-human life, including death itself.

Some scientists believe that we can have a positive singularity within ten years. Why ten years? The precise number is not important, it could be eight years, it could be twelve years, but something on that order of magnitude is probably achievable. None of us can know the future but it's plausible hypothesis and an achievable goal. Ten years to a positive singularity if the right amount of effort is expanded in the right direction... if we really, really try.

One path to singularity is via artificial intelligence. Artificial general intelligence can lead us to a positive singularity. There's lot of other interesting work going on. The work in molecular nanotechnology which will allow us to reconfigure matter accordion to our will, and the work on brain-computer interface which will let us plug our brains into computers, radically enhancing our power of cognition. Anyone of these paths could lead to a positive singularity way, way sooner that most people think, but the sad thing is the amount of resources, the amount of energy that our society devotes to these things is very, very small.

The human race is in a funny stage of its evolution. We spend far more of our energy and attention on things like making chocolates or attractive underpants than we do on creating new forms of matter, improving human cognition, extending human life, ending scarcity, ending human suffering, or creating advanced artificial minds.