RE: What is the singularity?

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon Jul 30 2001 - 20:46:35 MDT

At 07:33 PM 7/30/01 -0700, Lee wrote:

>Clearly these do not correspond very well with Vinge's
>original usage. But there may be no going back.

Godawmighty, you work your fingers to the bone, and then-- :)

Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create
superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.
                (Vernor Vinge, NASA VISION-21 Symposium, 1993)


Why this curious and unfamiliar term `singularity'? It's a mathematical
point where analysis breaks down, where infinities enter an equation. ...
`The term "singularity" tied to the notion of radical change is very
evocative,' Vinge told me, adding: `I used the term "singularity" in the
sense of a place where a model of physical reality fails. (I was also
attracted to the term by one of the characteristics of many singularities
in General Relativity--namely the unknowability of things close to or in
the singularity.).'
        For Vinge, accelerating trends in computer sciences converge somewhere
between 2030 and 2100 to form a wall of technological novelties blocking
the future from us. However hard we try, we cannot plausibly imagine what
lies beyond that wall. `My "technological singularity" is really quite
limited,' Vinge told me. `I say that it seems plausible that in the near
historical future, we will cause superhuman intelligences to exist.
Prediction beyond that point is qualitatively different from futurisms of
the past. I don't necessarily see any vertical asymptotes.' So enthusiasts
for this perspective (including me) are taking the idea much farther than
Vinge. Humanity, it is argued, will become first `transhuman' and then

Then there's the rest of the book.

Damien Broderick

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:39:59 MDT