Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Technological Singularity

The technological singularity is a meaningless concept.

The technological singularity says, basically that the rate of change of technology will continue to increase. This point is inarguable. Hundreds of thousands of years ago we tamed fire. Ten thousand years ago, we developed agriculture. We were working bronze 4000 years ago, and iron 3000 years ago. Coinage was introduced 1500 years ago. Gunpowder 1000 years ago, the printing press 500 years ago, the steam engine 250 years ago, the internal combustion engine 100 years ago, and the computer 50 years ago. And there's every reason to believe this will continue.

But what will that change? What makes it a singularity? And I don't think there is anything like that. Amazing, nearly magical inventions will be created, at a faster and faster pace. AIs will be created, humans will merge with computers to keep up. Society will be completely reformed. But how's that different from before? Society has been completely reformed countless times before.

The rate of change of technology is increasing, and maybe even the acceleration is accelerating too, but the same way it always has been.


Anonymous said...

The difference is that there will be very short times between invention, production and distribution. We will end up in a world with life changing things happening constantly. Virtually anything will be possible. It will be quite different compared to now, although we are already seeing a lot of life changing inventions and tremendous breakthroughs that common people find hard to understand.

Haakaa Päälle! said...

The thing is, the human psyche can only take so much change so fast. When we get to that limit, if we're still human, we'll slow down, because we won't be able not to. And if we're not still human, if we've become post-humans, as I think we will, then we'll be able to handle it, and the difference won't be significantly different from previous differences.