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Are we really only a moment away from "The Singularity," a technological epoch that will usher in a new era in human evolution?
Futurologists point to the exponential rate of technological progress and conclude that we are rapidly approaching a revolutionary turning point. Known as "The Singularity," they predict that we will be able to enhance human intelligence and magnify creativity, entering a new evolutionary stage for mankind and a new epoch for the cosmos. There are at least three objections to this view, demonstrating that the Singularity is hardly a foregone conclusion.
The Singularity, for Kurzweil, is defined as “a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed.” The idea is that discovery and progress will “explode with unexpected fury.” We often fail to appreciate what “exponential growth” actually means and how rapidly it brings about change. For instance, if we were to double the processing power of a computer every year, within seven of these “doublings,” our computers’ power would have increased 128-fold.
For some, this Singularity will be a utopia. For others, it will be a Terminator-style nightmare. Kurzweil is certainly of the former. Kurzweil sees the weakness in our human frailty, or what he calls “1.0 biological bodies.” Yes, we have Rembrandt, Newton, and Saint-Saëns, but it is also true that “much human thought is derivative, petty, and circumscribed.” Which is why the Singularity cannot come fast enough. It is time to ditch these lumbering flesh-sacs of violent barbarity.
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