technological singularity

GC: n

CT: The most radical prediction of science fiction is the technological singularity. As author and mathematician Vernor Vinge put it in his 1993 essay The Coming Technological Singularity, "Within 30 years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended." Blimey. Sounds a bit serious.
Imagine a graph charting the growth in modern computing power. Place the mechanical calculator at one end and the Cray XE6 supercomputer, capable of analysing 240 full human genomes in 50 hours, at the other. Moore's law – that computing power doubles every 18 months – means that the curve of the graph grows exponentially steeper until it "spikes" upward.
That spike is the singularity. And for decades now, science fiction authors and assorted types of futurist have been trying to predict what a post-singularity world would look like. Ray Kurzweil has been preaching future utopia for decades and in The Singularity Is Near (2005) made concrete predications about the arrival of machine intelligence, predictions he adapted in his recent interview with the Guardian to claim that machines would outsmart men by 2029.

S: The Guardian - http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/feb/28/are-we-already-living-in-the-technological-singularity(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016)

N: 1. technological (adj): From "technology" (From Greek technologia systematic treatment of an art, from technē art, skill + -o- + -logia -logy; First Known Use: 1859) and -ical (Middle English, from Late Latin -icalis, as in clericalis clerical, radicalis radical; -ic <symmetrical> <geological> —sometimes differing from -ic in that adjectives formed with -ical have a wider or more transferred semantic range than corresponding adjectives in -ic).
First Known Use of technological: 1800.
  1. of, relating to, or characterized by technology
  2. resulting from improvements in technical processes that increase productivity of machines and eliminates manual operations or operations done by older machines
singularity (n): c. 1400, "unusual behavior," also "singleness of aim or purpose," from Old French singulerte "peculiarity" (12c., Modern French singularité) or directly from Late Latin singularitatem (nominative singularitas) "a being alone," from singularis (singular). Meaning "fact of being different from others" is c. 1500. Mathematical sense of "point at which a function takes an infinite value" is from 1893. Astronomical use is from 1965.
2. 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):
  • The development of computers that are "awake" and superhumanly intelligent. (To date, most controversy in the area of AI relates 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.
  • Biological science may find ways to improve upon the natural human intellect.
3. It's a common theme in science fiction - mankind struggles to survive in a dystopian futuristic society. Scientists discover too late that their machines are too powerful to control. Computers and robots force the human race into servitude. But this popular plot might not belong within the realm of fiction forever. Discussed by philosophers, computer scientists and women named Sarah Connor, this idea seems to gain more credence every year.
Could machines replace humans as the dominant force on the planet? Some might argue that we've already reached that point. After all, computers allow us to communicate with each other, keep track of complex systems like global markets and even control the world's most dangerous weapons. On top of that, robots have made automation a reality for jobs ranging from building automobiles to constructing computer chips.
4. Cultural Interrelation: We can mention, among many others, a book The Technological Singularity (2015) by Murray Shanahan and an university called the Singularity University.

S: 1. MW - http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology;(external link) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technological;(external link) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ical(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016); OED - http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=singularity(external link) (last access: 24.04.2016). 2. https://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge/misc/singularity.html(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016). 3. http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/technological-singularity.htm(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016). 4. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/technological-singularity(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016); http://singularityu.org/(external link) (last access: 24 April 2016).


CR: artificial intelligence, Internet (EN), Internet of Things, man-machine interface, robot (EN).


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