17
November
2008

Singularity 11:32 on Monday

From the list of “things that keep popping up and I have no clue why”, here’s singularity.

The Universe...
The Universe…, originally uploaded by Haffiđ».

According to the rather dubious looking website with a very spot on domain, singularity.org defines singularity as the rise of super intelligent life, created through the improvement of human tools by the acceleration of technological progress reaching the point of infinity.

In my (admittedly limited) understanding of the subject, this vision has been invented by futurists who comprise of science fiction writers and people who like to call themselves researchers but don’t really operate within the “accepted science community”, so to say. According to Wikipedia, these people talk about technological singularity. Ray Kurzweil is obviously a power figure in the singularity scene, and I salute him for that, as much as for creating some of the more interesting music synthesizers of the 90s.

While singularity makes for great science fiction, for me it’s just that — fiction. I don’t buy into that idea. I believe we may eventually reach something that is “near singularity” and then singularity enthusiast who are bored of waiting will start calling that singularity.

The problem with “near singularity” is that it only makes sense if you actually believe something as paradoxical as “nearly infinite” can come true. So how far technological progress must accelerate before singularity geeks feel we’re there, depends entirely on how quickly they get bored.

I will return to regular programming in the next post. ;)

4 Responses to “Singularity”

    Comments:

  1. samin Says:

    I think it is called “nearly infinite” because of our limited perception about future. Near-term future is clearly made by man, but longer term future can only be guessed. And these guesses are usually way off the radar or what will actually happen – they are lucky guesses based on very limited understanding.

    I think singularity.org’s definition is bit of fluff. Maybe with good intentions, but still fluff. Ray Kurzweil defined it as a period of extremely rapid technological progress. What happen when technological singularity is reached, no-one knows. I’m optimistic and belive in great potential but whatever I’d state here, would probably be either way off or just plain understatement.

    Btw – do check New Scientist’s article about the future of science fiction. E.g. William Gibson has now retired to pure fiction.

  2. Niko Says:

    Maybe singularity.org goes a bit too far with using the word “infinite”. I understand the point is the same as Kurzweil has: exponential progress approaching infinity.

    The question remains though even if you change how you state it: when are we “near” the infinity? When is technological progress rapid enough? Who gets to decide?

    Is the singularity here as soon as you can’t handle or comprehend the speed of technological change or progress? Maybe some people have already reached the singularity then. :)

  3. samin Says:

    If I understood correctly, we’re talking about something that will be BIG. In anyway imaginable – not just on how you would define semantics and moment of infinity.

    They say The Singularity happens in 2045 and the changes will be so drastic people can’t avoid noticing them. Check out the last quote on the Stanford Summit. I think the idea is to have people mutually agree on the Big Wow :)

  4. Niko Says:

    Fair enough. Then I can clearly state that I don’t believe in it.

    I guess this means it’s time for a long bet! ;) Bring on the flying saucers!