I want to bring to your attention something that has always fed into my imagination and which has been used in many great works of science fiction (most notably Dan Simmons Hyperion). I don’t expect anyone to take this any more seriously than an interesting thought experiment, but suffice to say I personally believe that the potential for this to be relevant to our future exists. As I see it, we either reach technological singularity or our civilization fades out into obscurity.
So what is “technological singularity?”
There are a lot of authors writing and talking about it and each of them has a slightly different definition, so I’ll just give you my brief overview of it.
Singularity is what happens when AI’s (artificial intelligence) get better at thinking than the best of human minds. Those AI’s can then be used to design even better AI’s and hardware, which in turn can be used again in the same way. Repeat to infinity. Essentially what you get is a massive and almost instantaneous improvement in technology, and an intelligence far superior to anything we can imagine. It’s called a singularity because the graph of technological progress goes vertical at the point of AI “alpha”, the first AI above human intelligence, and because we cannot really speculate our future beyond that point. It’s often likened to the event horizon of a black hole.
There are of course great dangers associated with this, not to mention humanistic and philosophical considerations. I won’t go too deeply into this, as I don’t know this forums appetite for this kind of stuff. Also, I’m hardly an expert on it, I’ve just found it to be very interesting.
Take it for what it’s worth.
Wikipedia definition :
Something short (video is not mine) :
(There was also a long lecture at Stanford university which, for the life of me, I can’t find. If someone knows what I’m talking about, please notify and I’ll add it here.)
http://www.vimeo.com/siai/videos/sort:oldest – provided by Linda.
So what do you think? Is this something that should even be discussed here at overthepeak? Is this silly, unbelievable, interesting or all of the above? Please leave a comment.