Robert Sawyer mentioned the Vinge Singularity (or just the Technological Singularity) in his blog, so I looked it up to get all the pesky details (mostly because I have two assignments due tomorrow which I’ve barely started). Reading the Wikipedia article on the subject, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a connotative similarity to the Second Coming (… Revelations? The Final Judgement? Apocalypse? Whatever you want to call it).

A lot of it seems to hinge on creating some kind of “ultraintelligence”. This would be something like a computer AI that is capable of designing better computers and so on, creating an explosion in technological progress, leaving mankind behind. In the words of IJ Good, “Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.”

The line that really got me thinking about the religious connotations was this:

Futurists speculate about many technologies possibly significant in bringing about the Singularity.

Just replace “the Singularity” (I mean, just look at that ominous capital letter S) with your favourite end-of-world scenario and you’ve got theories about how we’re going to cause our own destruction.

(My favourite scenario for ultraintelligent AI is still the Internet itself gaining more interconnections than a human brain and spontaneously become sentient… actually, not even spontaneously, because that would imply you need some minimum number of connections before functioning… remember my contest to make you sound smart at a cocktail party… there haven’t been any winners, by the way, so I still don’t know how smart the internet is…)

Anyway, the Singularity seems to be scheduled for sometime in the 2030s (for once a prediction for the end of the world from vaguely scientific sources!), so we should all still be around to see how it ends up.

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