Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Singularity visions

Guest blogger David Brin is next scheduled to blog about the Singularity -- a future nexus point when the capacities of an artificial intelligence (or a radically augmented human) exceeds that of humans. It is called the “Singularity” because it impossible to predict what will follow. A Singularity could usher in an era of great wisdom, prosperity and happiness (not to mention the posthuman era), or it could result in the end of the human species.

David Brin believes that we are likely en route to a Singularity, but that its exact nature cannot be known. He also doesn't believe that such an event is inevitable. In his article, “Singularities and Nightmares: Extremes of Optimism and Pessimism About the Human Future,” Brin posits four different possibilities for human civilization later this century:
  1. Self-destruction
  2. Positive Singularity
  3. Negative Singularity
  4. Retreat (i.e. neo-Luddism)
Brin, in a personal email to me, recently wrote, “[My] singularity friends think I am an awful grouch, while my conservative friends think I am a godmaker freak.” Indeed, Brin has expressed skepticism at the idea of a meta-mind or a Teilhard de Chardin apotheosis, while on the other hand he hasn’t shied away from speculations about transcendent artificial intelligences who shuffle thorough the Singularity without a care for their human benefactors.

Stay tuned for David's elaboration on these and other points.

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