On The Singularity

In a previous blog post, I touched on Ray Kurzweil, an advocate proponent of “The Singularity.”  It’s an interesting topic, to say the least, with the implications being revolutionary to our empirically driven perception of life itself.

In a nut-shell, The Singularity is a theorem that the given exponential growth of technology will eventually transcend to a magnitude that is inconceivable by our limited perception of possibilities in today: inter-continental continuity that transcends all biologically-based organisms.  Think of planet Earth acting as a giant “mega-brain.”

This radical mindset on the future of mankind stems from the exponential growth of technology.  If you’re familiar with Moore’s Law, it is “the proposition that the quantity of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.”  This means that not only is technology growing faster now more than ever, but the speed at which it can grow faster is faster.

To put this in perspective, let’s compare the rate at which biological-based structures have evolved in comparison to silicon-based.  Nearly 2 billion years of biological evolutionseparates the first complex cells (eukartoyes) to that of multi-cellular human beings.  Meanwhile, less than 15 years separates the integration of the first personal computersfrom being connected to other PC’s via the World Wide Web.  Although comparing the evolution of eukaryotes to mankind with the evolution of the first PC to the integrated infrastructure of the World Wide Web is analogous to comparing apples to oranges, one has to acknowledge the alarming growth of technology.  Think of how far cell-phones have come in our lifetime.  5 years ago, it would have been inconceivable in the eyes of many that we would have a tiny portable computer with us at all times, it would have seemed unnecessary to be that connected at all times.

We have a very linear view, incapable of truly relishing the exponential growth of the past couple decades and the growth in technology they’ve experienced in comparison to any other day and age in human history.  It’s undeniable to acknowledge the growth of technology in our lifetime.  The question, moreover, lies in what future implications it holds.  Will there ever be a moment within our lifetime of postbiological superintelligent lifeforms?  Maybe a possible integration of technology and biology to form superhuman cyborgs?

Technology, as it is, serves as an extension of biological capabilities.  Cars, for example, serve as an extension of our feet and cell-phones as extensions of our mouths.  Who’s to say they do not become even more integrated?

The concept is overwhelming, and the repercussions even more so.  I teeter back-and-forth on the pros and cons on the concept of Singularity.  Part of my intuition says that it can be seen as a positive, as the ability to exchange knowledge, medication, end violence and poverty is nothing short of a leap towards a Utopian way of life.  What if life was a global democracy?  Think of the implications a global democracy would hold, ending corrupt government policies, with total sovereignty under the jurisdiction of the people of planet Earth.  The other part of me knows how messy of a jump that would be.  The division between those in favor of postbiological evolution and those who are opposed to artificial intellect would undeniable result in a chaotic conquest for control.

If this is to occur, it’ll be within our lifetime; Kurzweil believes by the year 2045.  You can read more about Kurzweil and singularity at his website.  It’s going to be an interesting future, to say the least.

Leave a Reply