Saturday, March 07, 2009

Technological Singularity

Singularity, The. The Techno-Rapture. A black hole in the Extropian worldview whose gravity is so intense that no light can be shed on what lies beyond it.
From "Godling's Glossary" by David Victor de Transend

Vernor Vinge's (Math Department, San Diego State University) classic essay on the Singularity argues for a future global machine “intelligence” that transcends humanity – "the last invention". In 1993, Professor Vinge wrote:

The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough (and this is another reason for having confidence that the event will occur):

  • There may be developed computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. (To date, there has been much controversy as to whether we can create human equivalence in a machine. But if the answer is "yes, we can", then there is little doubt that beings more intelligent can be constructed shortly thereafter.)
  • Large computer networks (and their associated users) may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity.
  • Computer/human interfaces may become so intimate that users may reasonably be considered superhumanly intelligent.
Ray Kurzweil brought discussion of the technological singularity through his book The Singularity is Near. Webcast of Kurzweil and others at MIT in 2006:

What is our future? Are we totally wedded to our own creation - computer technology?

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