RE: What is the singularity?

From: John Grigg (
Date: Tue Jul 31 2001 - 22:34:40 MDT

Damien wrote:
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 `posthuman'.

Then there's the rest of the book.

Damien Broderick

Damien Broderick has spoken. I would say that about covers it.

Oh, and buy the book. I did and found it excellent.

best wishes,


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