[I apologize for sending the last couple of paragraphs like this in a separate message -- it's my clumsiness with Netscape Communicator].
Carnegie-Mellon roboticist Hans Moravec's non-fiction
_Mind Children_ came to my attention soon afterwards, and dared to
suggest seriously that something much like Vinge's technological
black hole was just around the corner, perhaps even within my
own lifetime. The most memorable item in _Mind Children_ was
Moravec's description of a technique to gradually move a human
mind from a biological to a non-biological substrate, without
and without interrupting the consciousness of the mind being transferred.
I had thus been steeped in transhuman speculative fiction (and the very occasional non-fiction discussions such as those by Clarke and Moravec) for most of my literate life when I stumbled across the Extropians on the 'net in '97. The one really new thing was encountering Yudkowsky's _Staring Into The Singularity_, in which a seemingly rational, intelligent person was arguing quite forcefully and plausibly for the occurrence of an **unavoidable** (barring disaster) technological singularity with decades rather than centuries or millenia. I haven't quite decided whether I really believe this or not, but I have to admit that it's re-crystallized my view of the world, so that when I see, for instance, a newspaper article like the one in last Friday's New York Times about molecular computing, I say to myself "here comes the Singularity".